Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Easter doesn't end in darkness

It's great that the kids I pastor have been in church their whole lives. Well, sometimes that's a great thing. At other times, I fear that the stories of the scriptures are nothing more than fairy tales for these kids. Nothing more than a story they've been told their whole lives, just as they've heard stories about Prince Charming or Cinderella. I talked with Billy's mom today about how sometimes we don't even realize that's the case until you share the same stories with a kid who hasn't heard them before... and they stand in amazement. I spent a great deal of time thinking about that this afternoon and thought back to my experiences with the kids on Wednesday night or in Children's Worship on Sunday.

With my elementary kids, I sometimes tell a bible story and they look at me like, "So, what's the big deal?" Hey, kid! Did you HEAR me? Lazarus was DEAD. As in NOT ALIVE. And then Jesus brought him back to LIFE. Okay, so maybe you're thinking, "So what. Maybe these kids just know that there isn't anything that is impossible for God and they aren't surprised that Jesus was able to bring his friend back to life." Maybe. But I think it's something more. I think somehow to our ears, these stories sometimes seem stale--when really there is nothing stale about them. Hasn't that happened to all of us at one point or another? We forget just how powerful the God of the cosmos is.

If you know me, you know that of the 365 days of the entire year, Easter Sunday is my favorite day of all. There is NOTHING stale about Easter. So tonight at church, I prayed against the staleness. And God amazed me. The kids amazed me. We sat together in silence in a dark room, lit only by a few candles, and journeyed together through the story of Jesus' crucifixion, death, and burial. We imagined together what it was like to be there, taking part in it all... being a part of the crowd that was shouting "Crucify him!" One of the kids picked Barabbas out of the story and talked about how it would have felt to be set free even when he didn't deserve it. Another girl talked about how heartbroken Mary Magdalene must have been to see her friend put to death. The friend who had given her new life. Another little boy talked about how Pilate must have felt-- knowing he had sentenced an innocent man to death. Another little boy drew a picture of Jesus and a weeping crowd of people at the foot of the cross.

The kids had been confused as to why they had been instructed to enter our worship space in silence and were certainly confused about why the room was lit by candles instead of the overhead lights. But as the story continued, and we reached the part about Jesus' resurrection, their confusion started to disappear. The room got brighter as we talked about Christ defeating the darkness and Christ's power over death. As the room got brighter, their voices got louder, and one of the kids exclaimed, "So THAT'S why we have been sitting in the dark! It's because Easter is about Light! Jesus is the light of the world!" Then the rest of them understood, too. I think that tonight, the story of Easter was very fresh.

And that's a great thing. We are, afterall, Easter people.

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So I don't know anything!

Alright, well American Idol seems to be the most unpredictable show on television. What do I know? I certainly did not think Stephanie would be leaving the show for another 2 or 3 weeks. She was voted out last week. I thought for certain Phil's days were numbered, but he totally rallied yesterday and did a pretty decent job and picked a song that was great for him. The only ones that seem to really be consistent with their performances are Melinda, Blake, and LaKisha.

In other news, I'm on spring break next week. Hooray! :)

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

You heard it here first...

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We have been following American Idol this season. This is actually the first season ever that Billy or myself has followed this show, and it turns out it's pretty interesting. We started watching initially so that we could have another excuse to hang with our friends. And now we look forward to Tuesday nights almost as much as we look forward to the Thursday night episode of "The Office" -- not just because we are hanging out with our friends, but because we want to see just who is going to "bring it" on American Idol.

So here's the deal. Tonight, at Jason & Dana's (where we watch Idol each week), we made our American Idol predictions. We listed the order in which the contestants would be voted off, all the way to predicting the big winner. We wrote them in ink and hung them on the wall, where they will stay until the winner is revealed. No changes can be made to our lists. I had to make some difficult decisions, but here are my predictions (#11 is who I think will be the next to go. It works its way up from there):

#11: Sanjaya (hopefully, though I fear I'll be proven wrong tomorrow night)
#10: Phil
#9: Stephanie
#8: Haley
#7: Chris S.
#6: Gina
#5: Chris R.
#4: Lakisha
#3: Jordin
#2: Melinda
Winner: Blake

We'll see what happens! There are 7 of us that made predictions tonight, and they are all over the board. However, the majority of us have picked Blake to be the big winner.

We love Gift Cards!

Our friends just sort of shake their heads and laugh when we tell them what we're about to do or have done for the weekend. We've begun many of our responses with, "Well, we went to eat at such-and-such-place because we had a gift card there." Or, "Hey, let's go shopping at so-and-so because I have a gift card there." We LOVE it.

For Christmas many of our family and friends (yes, perhaps some of you readers!) gave us gift cards to restaurants and stores... which we LOVE. We also really love to hang on to these things so that we can spread out the fun. Here we are. It's March. And we still have a gift card or two remaining. It's brilliant. We've gone to Chili's, Macaroni Grill, Abuelo's, Starbucks, and many more places for "date night" several times this year already... and we haven't had to pay for a single one of those meals. I just got to go shopping at Old Navy and buy several things for spring and I didn't have to pay for it! What a gift!

So... thank you to those of you who have gifted us with gift cards. We've had a great 2007 so far, thanks to you.

I write this to say: I know many people don't like to give gift cards as gifts because they feel it's impersonal. And that may be true for some people, but not for us. We love it. We went to Starbucks and said, "I sure am glad Dad and Debby provided this date for us." I shop on iTunes and think of my stepdad when I listen to the songs I used his giftcard to purchase. We sat at Macaroni Grill and were grateful to Bill & Diana for providing a meal that was such a treat for us.

So give on, gift card givers. People appreciate them more than you think! And um, if you hate gift cards, let me know-- I sort of love giving them as much as I love receiving them!

Monday, March 19, 2007

Columbus was an explorer!

Well I'm 10 pounds heavier (not really) because of all of the Blue Bell I've eaten these past few days, but I'm doing okay.

Had a great weekend of exploration, fun, responsibility, and everything in between. We were blessed on Friday by an unexpected gift of cash in the mail. We looked at the money and thought to ourselves, "What fun things could we buy with THIS?!". Our eyes glossed over and I dreamed of The Gap and I'm sure Billy was dreaming of Best Buy. We snapped back into reality and decided instead to go to the bank and put the money in savings. A lot less fun, but a whole lot smarter than a shopping spree. We had a little bit of cash left from Christmas that we never did anything with, so we took that with us. We walked away from the bank and thought, "Wow, if our car breaks down or something else comes up, we won't have to freak out. We could actually pay for it." It's a good thing.

After the bank, we departed for our Day of Rock with our friends Jeremiah (link to his blog is to the right) and Lindsay. They are from California and oh-so-much-fun! We headed 3 hours north to Columbus, OH to see bands Sherwood, Mae, and Relient K. We didn't stay for Relient K, because the real reason we were there was to rock out to some Sherwood (link to their site is also to the right). The guys in Sherwood are also from California, and are friends of Jeremiah & Lindsay. As I glanced around the place and saw mostly a crowd of teenagers (and their parents), I was reminded of the "good ol' days" when I was a teenager and spent the spring and summer going to concerts. It was fun to be able to afford ticket after ticket and to spend my money on t-shirts and CDs at the shows-- which is precisely what these youngsters were doing. But then I thought of all of those concert t-shirts I've thrown away over the years. I think I maybe have 1 left in my closet at home these days. Clearly, concert tees were not a good investment.

After the show, we walked through downtown Columbus (and unBELIEVABLY clean city!) and had dinner at BD's Mongolian grill. A fabulous place that reminded us of Dallas--we had a BD's about a mile from our home there. It is always good to share the table with friends. We laughed about how random it was that we were eating dinner in downtown Columbus, OH at 10:00 p.m. These are the great things that lasting memories are made of.

Here's a pic of downtown Columbus:

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Thursday, March 15, 2007

So long, Diet! Blue Bell is here!

Blue Bell Ice Cream has finally made its way to Kentucky!!! After one year here with no good substitute for Blue Bell's creamy goodness, it is finally here! It's a brand new development this week. Billy and I are both VERY excited.

I will talk to you later, dear friends. I've got to get to Kroger. :)

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Monday, March 12, 2007

Sabbath Day

Hooray! Since my last post, I have now made arrangements, shifted some things, and reworked my schedule so that Friday is my Sabbath Day. No work. No school. Just rest. And worship. And rest from worship.

God is good.

Sunday, March 4, 2007

Sabbath & Lights Out at 12

I thought of recapping the weekend for you. But then it made me tired just thinking about it. So I put this post on "hold" for a couple of days, and now I am back. It was wild. It was fun. But most of all, it was exhausting. And now it's Wednesday night, and I have finally mustered up the energy to write about my tales. Where does the time go, and HOW is it already March 7?

It was one of those weekends that went by in a blur. I'm not sure I have recovered yet. But here is my best attempt at a recap:

Thursday was a very big day. I had a big church history test to study for and a big church history paper to write (Could I use the word "big" just one more time in that sentence? Sorry). Somehow, on about 3 hours of sleep, I got it done and feel confident about my work. Here is where the fun REALLY begins...

Friday night. Versailles UMC Annual Children's Ministries Spring Party. The theme was "Let the Games Begin". We had 35 or 40 kids show up (which is quite a lot for our tiny little church). We had bowling, a hula hoop contest, bean bag toss, cake walk, Dance Dance Revolution, and all kinds of good things. We brought in a guest speaker: The Canine Christian Crusade. The star was Josiah the praying dog. I must say, it was interesting. Not great. Just interesting. It was one of those moments where I thought, "Just what are my kids learning here??" It was a little sketchy in the theology department. Not horrible. Just a different sort of presentation than I would have preferred.

When the party ended at 9:00, 6 of my 4th & 5th graders stayed for a lock-in. I generally hate lock-ins, but this one was pretty fun. Billy and I were the chaperones. Billy taught the kids the game Sardines, and we pretty much didn't have to entertain the kids for the rest of the night. They LOVED Sardines. They kept asking to play "one more round". Good times. We watched the movie "Flushed Away" (HILARIOUS!), ate some popcorn, and had "lights out" at 12. The kids did surprisingly well and went to sleep when they were asked.

The kids were picked up at 9 on Saturday morning, and Billy and I had to head to Lexington for something we had at 11:00. I then took a 3-hour nap and we went out with friends for dinner and shopping and hanging out.

Sunday. I woke up at 6:00 as usual, led Children's Worship for both services, then went to a brunch immediately following the 2nd service. I had to leave the brunch early to get to the nursing home, where my kids were singing as a part of a church service our church was leading. Immediately following that, I headed to the government housing community where we have our Kids Club ministry each week. I finally got home at 6:00 and met a friend here, who was hanging out while our husbands were having "guys night" at her and her husband's house. I was very grateful for the company and so enjoyed her being here. But after she left, it took about 10 minutes for me to fall asleep.

So after this wild weekend and a crazy start to the regular school/work week, I began to wonder what had happened to ever having a Sabbath day. A Sabbath day isn't something that is optional. God gave his people a Sabbath day for a reason. And then he commanded that we honor it. I thought about how I spend my days. Sunday is an all-day work day. Monday is an all-day work day. Tuesday is a class day AND work day. Wednesday is a 3-hour class and 9-hour work day. Thursday is an all-day class day. Friday is an all-day work day. And Saturday?? Well maybe that's a day off, but it's certainly not a day of rest. That is the day that Billy and I work all day around the house or buying groceries or doing all of the things that don't get done during the week. This never-ending routine is wearing on me, and I certainly don't do my best work out of my exhaustion.

Something must change. I have got to find a way to find Sabbath. I've got to find a way to honor God by honoring the Sabbath. I'm not sure how it will work, what it will look like, or what will be sacrificed, but something must change. My soul is weary.

And on that note, I will drift off into peaceful slumber. Until everything starts over again tomorrow.