Friday, July 31, 2009

To Heavy to Title

I sit here in my home office thinking about how my morning began-- in routine meditation. I sit here in my home office thinking still mom snap out of this, come back to us because it would feel much better on the heart if I could talk to God for just thanks of a day sprinkled with bright sunshine.

Sadly, my morning meditation thoughts have been dictated with that daily wake-up update-- they are long coming to that minuscule type of talk with God--it seems. Instead I continue to pray intensely for Kev's mom, my mother-in-law.

Gladly, I tell that she is surrounded by all the people who truly love her and a medical community desiring to see her pop back to her whole self.

I hope soon I will be able to blog about goofy-silly-nonsense that makes our life the lives we live.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Simply Titled: Prayers for Mom

Yesterday was a long day. My mother-in-law had brain surgery. I could have cried, let tears stream down my cheeks...but I did not. I did not because I believed, believe that our purpose is to be pillars of strength for my mother-in-law and her husband. That show of human weakness would not serve my purpose at this time. I will tell this...when King Ralph and I walked into her ICU room I stood there for a good twenty seconds questioning if I was in the correct mother-in-law looks nothing like herself. She is swollen beyond description. Her agitated cries for "help" and "my head hurts" and "get me out of here" thug at the heart. I just lifted her hand and gently kissed it and told her prayers abound.

As we left and my one sister-in-law cried hard I told her, God is good and now is time for mom to heal...and mom's husband, a gentle giant, looked at me with a small smile and shook his head yes.

So we will all gather again today. When not in our moments of quiet personal prayer we will laugh for her...because that is what see loves to make us do--laugh.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

The Best Party With Teenagers I've Been Too

Do you ever sit and look around at the streets as you take a drive on Sunday morning? I do. What I think is boy-oh-boy there sure aren't a lot of cars out here, isn't anyone wanting to go to church? I begin to realize in these times God just doesn't seem to rate very important, he's second fiddle to the drive to attain materialism, extra sleep, a little league game, an extra dollar with a weekend job...then I stand in the middle of New Orleans and start to change my mind.

The streets here are more than littered with teenage Lutherans they are congested. The few who are in this city that aren't part of the Youth Gathering are amazed. I too am amazed. Not just at how many matching T-shirts can be produced for spectacle but that these young people, and although in a world of billions these 37,000 teenagers represent the hope that God is alive, that his message of hope isn't dying. And, that you can have a ton of fun showing the world.

I have heard the most incredible speakers. Viola Vaughn is one of them-- incredible, passionate woman of heart. When you listen, hear Becca Stevens you'll want to shop her products. Liz McCartney, a CNN Hero of the Year in 2008 makes you realize there is people of true heart and hand in this sometimes sad world-- in which we are all a part of. Nothing, no nothing tops last nights speakers--Spencer West and Michel Chikwanie; a child soldier who had the courage to flee his captures... to over come, to march on, to not be pulled down or back. Amazing stories.

While I sit here, as I am sure everyone is, awakening to the idea that our struggles and woes are sometimes, somewhat minuscule. Realizing hope and love can answer when you trust-- you will prevail.

Just when I was letting that notion settle in deep into my soul...Skillet! Who knew Jesus came with a side of heavy metal. But gee whiz am I glad I know they exist because I have a proper replacement for "Heavy Metal Maddi's" Slipknot. Music of all kinds is being played, from hip-hop to contemporary... and the crowd sings and dances. Not in an ideal rival fashion but in a regular teenage rock concert fashion-- 37,000 plus fill the Super Dome all up on feet rocking out. Fun.
The big reason we have all come is to serve the people of New Orleans was yesterday, we spent the day at Airline Park Elementary school working with kids who's struggles start at home and spill over into the classroom. My little guy nearly six-years old going into the first grade could not, can not count to ten, does not know his alphabet; which means he is far behind the norm. He could however dance like Michael Jackson. How do I know this? The little guy cute as a bug couldn't manage to stay put in a seat for more than two minutes...and that might be stretching it. Then we helped distribute textbooks, others scrubbed desks; all readying the school for a new and upcoming year of learning. It was at our Final 15, what we call the moments we gather together to reflect on the day in a spiritual of our boys said "I wonder how the guys who spent the day not with kids but instead hauling text books and scrubbing desks, did they get anything out of the day, did they find a "thanks" in the service?" To which I told the story of how I moved a classroom last year at work for a teacher who to this day is rather thankless for my hard work...I reminded [my] kids that those who worked on behalf of the kids and not with the kids did just that, worked on there behalf. It wasn't as much about helping the teacher but making the school readied for the kids, readied for a year of learning. The school we served although not one of the terribly devastated hurricane hit areas and known for being on target with state levels for learning has adopted a population no stranger to poverty and illiteracy. The teacher we worked with told us last school year was a year to hug and love, clothe and feed these new little peoples to the that they have earned there trust they will focus on educating. The question was asked by our service hostess "did you see God in your service?" To which I say yes, in the face of each child longing for hope and a future. (this photo was taken with my camera by one of the students, which explains the off center)

When I think about service I reflect on the sea of orange T-shirts more than sprinkling the streets of NOLA...the visual mark that tens of thousands of people came to restore this beautiful city. What an awesome sight! We are told the work we did in three days would have taken the City of New Orleans three years. That of all the volunteers the city has seen "The Lutherans" have shined brightest-- based on the sheer number of volunteers. What a good feeling!

I cannot on this page dare to touch on all the stories of the New Orleans people we spoke with. I cannot begin to use enough adjective to describe the volume of orange T-shirts presented on the streets which we all wore on those service days. It was an incredible site of love and hope. That is exactly what each person we spoke with said...they may have lost everything but they carried on, they believe in "hope".

Friday, July 24, 2009

Partying Like A Lutheran

To exhausted to tell in words so how about one, two group photos to let you all know I am still the Big a sea of Lutheran teenagers.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Holy Chaos--Lutheran Style

I'm in the deep throws of packing. I have clothes, T-shirts of every color and style for a group of ten; I have boxes of breakfast foods, and boxes of books. I have coolers of beverages--lots and lots of bottled water. I even have a gazillion yo-yos for trade. I'm getting excited. Tomorrow morning before the rooster barely has time to drum up a cock-a-doodle-do I will be rolling down the highway on my way to New Orleans for the Youth Gathering. While I pack I start to think about the conversation D and I had two weeks ago...

Around my youngest daughter's neck hangs a silver gold trimmed circle pendant that has her first name engraved on the front and on the reverse side her confirmation verse: Jeremiah 29:11-- a gift from her daddy and I.

As we were driving to church to make copies and chatting about our service event assignment we had just received I looked at her and said "your confirmation verse kind of fits into our service experience". "Not for me" she said. "How about for the children we will be reading to and with, can't you see the message in: For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future? Isn't this what our hands and hearts are opened to here in New Orleans, to show to these young children, these people--hope and a future?" I guess IT IS fitting,” she said. Then we began talking about reading and how it is hard to imagine a time when we couldn't read. We seem to take for granted a skill we posses, that it is just an innate part of our being. Truth is it isn't. It is something we all must work hard to cultivate the skill must be nurtured. For every ten people in New Orleans only three is literate…a very sad but real statistic. I told the story of how in elementary school I was for a time in the lowest reading group, but with the loving attention of good caring teachers and self practice of those learned skills I came to love reading-- all because someone cared enough to offer me the hope with a future so that I should be fit to prosper.

Cultivate. Nurture. Practice. Share. All these words do more than describe our servant area and event at the Jefferson Parish Public Schools. They really attest to the Gathering in the whole. We come to New Orleans to share, practice, nurture and cultivate our faith, our relationship with Christ. And the cool thing is...we aren't doing it alone, we have 36,000 friends in Christ to grow with. While many of us may walk into our service areas viewing, thinking, and feeling--"chaos" all our hands and loving hearts together put a "peace" of "holy" on it. Holy chaos is uplifting, fulfilling.

I can think of nothing better than holy chaos! You?

I also imagine the question on many young people's minds will be-- can we make a difference here, in our short time? If we allow ourselves to step back and evaluate why we have come to New Orleans it truly is a good feeling to know, to hope that our presence and the work we have come to do on there behalf will open hearts to the knowledge; not only [for us] in the sense of education and vocation, but that God does have a PLAN for us all, a PLAN for us all to prosper and to give the HOPE for a future.

So I say...New Orleans or Bust!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

A Different Kind of Band Camp

As I type teen aged girls giggle under the moonlight zipped inside a tent. The fire is out but the momentum of the night carries on. All I see is camera flashes and shadows through the tent fabric. And, more giggles. The intent: for a team to bond. I believe-- successful.

Did you ever camp out in the back yard when you were a kid? We never camped in the yard but instead camped out on our deck, right under the stars. Our second story deck had no stairs so it was pretty safe. We were just a roll away from the sliding glass door leading back into the town house if the weather chased us in. We slept in sleeping bags on the hard lumber without a complaint or care to the, what I would now consider, less than comfortable surface. It was also the era of UFO sightings. We would lie there watching every twinkle of a star summing it up as an alien's space ship. We all probably had one dose to many of Land of the Lost. When we woke in the morning it was by the warmth of the summer morning sun heating the silky nylon fabrics of our sleeping bags. Oh to be a kid again.

Instead I enjoy watching the Color Guard girls pitch tents in my backyard. Not a single girl references the instruction sheets for tents, instead one they study the picture on the box, while the other tent was constructed merely by trail and error. Who needs directions, men don't so why should teen girls? Team building. That is what the magic ingredient was. Success was achieved. Tents erected.

A true campfire fare was offered: weenies roasted on the open fire, marshmallows for desert. A trio of chips as the side dish. Wash it all down with soda pop and iPod tunes...what more could you want on a cool July evening. Sleep? Never. Slumber parties, no matter what there nature are never about clocking the z's they are about how long and how much you can talk and solve "girl problems." What are girl problems when you're a teen? Boys? Fashion? Crazy teachers? What bachelor Jillian The Bachelorette will pick?

All I know is I will be inside slumbering on my Posture Pedic mattress. For me this is all right!

Friday, July 17, 2009

Mr. 49 No More

Sure you will always be King Ralph but you are no longer Mr. 49.
You are Mr. Half-Century.
Happy Birthday old man, my old man.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Week Review

This week I can't seem to catch my breath. Or keep my balance.

Sunday- When I thought the dove had delivered the olive branch I ventured out to the grocery store only to realize that Noah was sill out in my side yard building an arc as the rains continued to pour down. While the rain kept on coming down I too went the grocery store parking lot, in the cross walk, when my flip flops failed me and sent me dancing on the pavement in the fashion of a cartoon character, till my keister hit the black top so hard, and my shorts soaked to the skin. OUCH! Darn flip flops!!

Monday- I rose early and went for an invigorating walk on the long trail at Powder Valley. I love walking early in the morning when it is just me and nature. As the wind blew softly, rain drops perched upon leaves sprinkled my skin. I listened the birds sing. By the time I got home no one knew I ever left--teenage girls still slumbering soundly.

Alee and her Jewish boy (he still is a blog for another day) headed off for the Fan Fest in celebration of the All-Star Game.

Then it was doctor day. M and D needed physicals for high school. Since they are big girls now I am left in the waiting room alone to inhale the germs of small people. When I was invited in I got a new prescription for M's expired Epipen and forms to sign for D's dump truck full of inoculations, which guarantee her entrance into the high school, plus a prescription for a back x-ray. Scoliosis. I just looked at the doctor and said "I just don't have it in me to go down that road again"...a road I am still on, sadly. Turns out, thank the Lord, the curve is mild, to mild to have to bother with. Amen! Besides my baby girl is most likely fully grown. Yippee yahoo I am finally taller than one of my girls!

Here's my favorite part of the doctor day. While sitting in the waiting room of the imaging center this boy around ten or eleven walks out with his mom, he is walking fairly normal but with every step he moans out and ou, ooo, ou, ooo, each one louder than the one before. Then he walks back into the exam area. An older woman says I wonder what is wrong with him to which I comment probably nothing. With that the mom walks out gathers her other children in the waiting room when one asked what is wrong with him to which the mom replied nothing just bruised. Ha, I knew it. The mom in me can sense it. What I didn't know is that boys had it in them to produce such drama. I thought that was a role reserved to girls only.

Tuesday- Challenged the rain by heading to Six Flags on some $9.80 tickets from the radio station. By the time we walked in water park the rain stopped. We had a great time me, Princess A, D and King Ralph's niece. (M was busy with Color Guard and a Harry Potter party which preceded a midnight showing of the new Harry flick). While at Six Flags we rode every coaster. I love roller coasters! Except I got a taste of aging while on Mr. Freeze. As the coaster hung there at the end of the track before descending backwards I got so dizzy I saw blackness dancing around in my head. My brain was scrambled eggs. That was it I felt pukey for a long while after that ride; which I have ridden once before with no issues or cause for concern. We next rode Thunder River for a fully clothed baptism of theme park water. We rode with the four biggest women in the park who were the most obnoxious things ever. The one woman apparently lacked attention in her youth so she made herself a spectacle by screaming lots of "Oh Sh#*" and "my crack is wet, my bootie crack is wet", well hello you are on a water ride. While the girls got off nearly dry I was soaked--head to knee caps. They laughed at me instead of thanking me for taking on the heavy side of the ride. Next I made the girls ride the ever-so-exciting train so I could decompress and maybe catch a wind to dry my clothes. Once decompressed I rode a few more coaster before we departed for a dinner of Steak-n-Shake--in my still wet clothes.

Side note: I realized the reason I have not been to Six Flags in seven years. It is as gross now as it was then. I really truly am an amusement park snob. Give me Disney. Give me Busch Gardens. You can have Six Flags. (We did have fun though)

Wednesday- Since I started the week on a doctor day I figure we would see how many more hours devoted to good health we could fit in the week. To the dentist we went. Luckily the new dentist is across the street from my house so the girls were shuttled or shuffled home between appointments. I however took to the waiting from 1-3pm till it was my turn. Seven hundred dollars later and return visit for M to get a cavity filled tonight (which means the bill is going to inflate) we all have extra clean teeth. We all promise to floss--more.

Today- Between carpooling for Color Guard practice, doing a market research (I am tasting OJ for forty-five minutes for a payout of $40) and then back to Color Guard to pass out parade uniforms I just might need...a stiff drink? No a nap!

I didn't get the nap but I got a drink, a margarita, when we went out to dinner to celebrate King Ralph's birthday. I am shipping him off to the lake with Princess A for the weekend to celebrate.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Question of the Day...

...really it has been my question of the month.

The Hair. To cut or not to cut?

Thursday, July 09, 2009

At Least We Didn't Name You Rumer, Apple or Moon

I had started to blog when the phone rang; it was Uncle Dan informing us that the space station was about to fly over our houses. Like the geeks we are we all rushed outside, continued talking on the phone till we all spotted the fast moving ball of light...once confirmed we said good-bye.

This is the kind of excitement we crave this summer...excitement of nothingness.

While we are talking space... Princess A came home from work and what prompted the conversation I will never know but we started talking about the spelling of her name. She said people always ask what her full name is; they can’t believe her real name is not just a nickname. Then she told us how her sorority sisters always tell her in so many words that her parents were on crack when they came up with the spelling. King Ralph defending himself, us, tells her the spelling is Romanian Transylvanian something or other, to which Princess A just laughs at him in her queer sort of way. I tell her we agreed on the unusual one-of-a-kind spelling in the instance she became some famous human being making her an authentic individual. Then she says her name spelling is odd she should just spell her name backwards and it would be just as weird. So instead of Princess Alee (pronounced: a like in apple - lee or alley) she would be Princess Eela. We told her it sounds very Star Wars. Very galactic. (George Lucas you can thank us later for your new character name)

Then we went to dinner where King Ralph told Princess Eela that she needs to tell her Jewish boy (boy is used in reference by Princess A since he skipped the bar mitzvah which is the marking of becoming a man) that he wants to go fishing down at the pond and share a beer so they can bond. I think it must have been the mariachi band and the monster beer talking at our chosen dining establishment. Actually I would love to see King Ralph actually bond with one of the Princess Eela's young male suitors instead of stretched out in the recliner in an intimidating position remedying fear in the young men who enter our home. The stars will really need to aligned just for this to occur.

Princess Eela says while King Ralph is out fishing with Jewish boy she is going over to his mother's house to play a few flute duets. The boy's mother actually suggested since they are both flutist that they hang out and play duets. I guess the fact that her son is dating a Christian girl is all forgotten by the fact she plays the flute.

So while they are out fishing and fluting I might just work on that matzoth ball soup recipe.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Reasons I May Not Be Blogging Much

It seems I just don't blog much these days and why, you are wondering why.

It could be I am busy...

begging for a car, between King Ralph and Princess A's employment wheels are hard to come by.

When I do have wheels...

I am running M to Color Guard practice and measuring a slue of girls for performance uniforms

then I run girls to doctor appointments

and to the Walmart to drop a couple of Ben Franklins on new spectacles for M

then pop over to the Grant's Trail for a bit of exercise as I work to eliminate my butt shelf

I go to the church office to make copies by the hundreds of papers to take to the Youth Gathering

escape to sister-in-law's pool for sun and water fun

When I don't have wheels...

I make spread sheets for Color Guard

make more spread sheets for the Youth Gathering

watch M and D play a childhood game with the globe--spin it, and where ever your finger lands is where you are going to live someday. Preferably with a car in the driveway.

walk the neighborhood streets trying to work away my butt shelf

sit in the home office ordering T-shirts for the Youth Gathering

send email orders to embroidery company for Color Guard accessories

call marching band uniform company to order more Color Guard accessories

there is the moments of required referee performed due to girl drama in the house (King Ralph says that M and D crave sister drama so much they would argue over dust on the ground)

I read

and watch movies on TCM and AMC

It's not that I don't want to blog it's just I am busy doing something that pretty much sums up to doing nothing...and loving it!

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Three Cheers for the Red White and Blue

After a week of detox from my over indulgence of sweets, in an effort to lose some weight I have fallen off the wagon…the cause—the Fourth of July, weekend.

There was Thursday. Dinner at my sister-in-law’s where my mother-in-law joined us—God bless her. If I may digress…as good as it is see her it is hard. Preparing for and worrying about her upcoming delicate brain surgery she wears on her face like a coat. The stress, the worry, the draw of her face is something I have never seen draped across her being. For her children to be with her breaking bread seemed somehow comforting for her and them. So, while she worries she poisoned us with the most decadent homemade triple chocolate brownies I have ever eaten. That’s all it took to fall of the wagon. I tried to lose the calories by laughing at King Ralph’s practical joke he played on his little sister. Tried again by laughing at King Ralph’s uncharacteristic behavior each time his team won a point in the game of “Catch Phrase”. I think someone said, and it had a measure of truth, “you would think we were drunk”…but we weren’t. Just family having good ole’ fashion fun. If I may add the jealousy soothed at me for being the only adult not in need of reading glasses or a magnifying glass to read the game card.

Friday. Back at sister-in-law’s house to swim, sun and reminisce about the evening before practical joke. Where we sipped frozen mudslides while floating on rafts. The kids sipped Icees from the Quick Trip. While we floated and sipped we planned our next bit of holiday weekend fun—the drive-in.

We were the envy of the drive-in. Our dining table with its meal of lasagna, Zia’s salad, French bread and again those dammed delicious triple chocolate brownies; were hardly competition for others dinner of greasy popcorn from the concession stand. Then we played Catch Phrase while we waited for the movies to start—Ice Age 3 and Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian. By the time Ben Stiller bid me good night I had really fallen off the wagon. One punch in my stomach I could have shot out Mike & Ike’s and Milk Duds like a machine gun.

On Saturday we woke to Mother Nature’s evilness instead of Uncle Sam’s glory. It rained and rained to the point I feared we would float off before we had a chance to light a sparkler. Luckily the rain paused long enough for us to party with the cousins, watch King Ralph and cousin Rich perform their Independence Day boy ritual of blowing up plastic bottles with sparkler wicks while the family’s best out-laws (me and Nancy) watched with frozen beverages in hand—mine being the ever so patriotic margarita. It must be breed in their offspring because M and Kelli decided they wanted to try to blow a full soda can, or was it send it to the moon with a tail of twinkling colors...unsuccessful attempts each try. Of course no Fourth of July is complete without an All-American meal…let me just say we feasted well! While we waited for dinner to digest we went to see the firework display where Mother Nature was kind enough to give the rain a brief break so we could be umbrellaed under a canopy of colors. Who picked the spot with the tree blocking the view? Rich maybe? Probably King Ralph.Once back at cousins’ house it was time to add insult to injury when someone served a towering four-layer chocolate cake with thick fudgy chocolate icing. Yum-me! (I am beginning to feel like Fudgie the Whale)
failed attempt one

failed attempt two

Now the weekend indulgence of fun, celebration, explosives and sweet treats has come to an end… it is time for me to rejoin Sweet Eaters Anonymous. This weeks meeting: on the scale. Yikes!

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Independance Day 2009

Aaaaaahhhh the Fourth of July. America's birthday. A celebration of freedom under an umbrella of sparkling colors in the sky.

coming to a screeching halt

Someone find Noah and his arc, send him to rescue us. We are dam near ready to float away here in the suburbs of Saint Louis. Our galoshes are filled to the rims. The run off of water on our umbrellas is like that of a clogged gutter. The odds of keeping a punk lit to flare a sparkler--slim. Blankets spread on lawns must be exchanged for air mattresses.

In other words friends, it's a wet one today. A soggy celebration.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Good 72* Summer Morning

I spent last week feeling like a drenched dish rag, the heat so oppressive that the minute I exited from the refuge of air conditioning sweat poured from my forehead down my back. Yuck! No one left the house unless forced by work and high school obligations. The family hibernated inside the humble abode, gladly.

Change. This morning the day is glorious. Amen!

I zipped on my short velour robe,grabbed a bowl of Life cereal topped with a banana and a hand full of blueberries and took to the deck. While I fueled myself with morning meal breathing in cool fresh air I listened...nearly a bird song to be heard, instead the faint chirp of crickets. Our dog, Uli, dances in circles around the yard in the joy that somehow this morning she doesn't feel like she has been forced to wear a fur coat in the Sahara Desert and drinking a bowl of boiling tap water. That she can sleep under a shade tree all day never panting to cool herself. The dog days of summer are gone-- at least for a while.

After a few loads of laundry, a pass of the vacuum I will join Uli under the shade tree. Me and my book.

It's days like this, summer weather like this that makes you want to say--God is good!