Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Weather or not...

Another Children's Message, Sunday 9/14:

It's football season. My grandmother used to get really excited about football season, but I think that's because she had two daughters and never had to go to a Little League game and sit in the rain or stand in the mud. That's where we were last night, soaking wet, but it was Elliott's first official game and we wouldn't have been anywhere else. Even the cheerleaders had as much spirit as they could muster up.
On the way home, Elliott said that he was glad his team won, but he said, "Mom, I kinda sat out most of the game."
Well I wanted to say something that would make him feel better and also inspire him to keep trying, but we got interrupted. I know, that shocks you - interruptions in my family...
We didn't get to finish that conversation, so I'll tell him now what I wanted to say.
"I know you feel like you sat out, but you did get to play some, I have pictures of you on the field. And some of the boys have more experience than you, but you're doing great - the coaches tell me so. So you just keep practicing and keep learning, and when you do get a chance to play, you do your best. The coaches are always watching, and if they see you doing your best, they'll play you more often."
Well, now that I say that, I'm wondering if I set a good example for him. I'm part of a lot of teams - church, family, volunteer groups. I know my teammates are counting on me, and I know my Coach - God - is always watching. Wow, I can think of some times when I've stood on the sidelines and hoped that someone else would do the hard stuff. Did I even say thank you to my teammates when they did stuff that might have been my job? I might not have.
Gee, I guess I have some practicing to do, too. But I bet we all can think of a time when we've stood back and hoped that mom would clean up that mess, or dad would put those toys away, or even just took for granted that our parents would make sure we had everything we need. So we can all pratice being better teammates, can't we? At home, at school, here at church, and in our community.
Being part of God's team means that we are all winners, and that's the team we have to work hardest for. Being on that winning team makes it easier to do a good job for other teams. And the best part is that if people are counting on you, you are worth counting on. So play your heart out today and every day!

Friday, September 19, 2008


Let's see... if lightly burned food is "toasted" and burned food is "roasted" or "broiled," and really burned food is "char-broiled," why do I not have my own show on Food Network?

Roasted zucchini muffins, anyone?

Thursday, September 18, 2008


The kids did not have school yesterday, so I took them to a place called Zonkers - like Chuck E Cheezits (as Ben calls it) but nicer.

Here's the count:

200 tokens - $40
Tickets to ride the snake coaster and carousel: $15
Minutes it took Elliott to go through his: 41
Times I had to play Whack-a-Mole with Ben: 6
Different locations Abby left her shoes: 4
Kids too tired to fight on the way home: Priceless.

After we got home, I begged them to clean up their room so I could vacuum and I went out to mow, and here's the count for that:

Times I had to redo the starting sequence on the mower: 2
Acres mowed: 3
Mosquito bites: 7
Bugs in my nose: 3
Frogs who narrowly escaped: 2
Grasshoppers who didn't: hundreds - YAY!
Believing my dad is watching from heaven and enjoying the smell of fresh cut grass with me: Priceless.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Change and the Cable Guy

I've been delivering the Children's Message off and on for a few years at our tiny Presbyterian Church (active membership - 37!) but lately I've gotten several positive comments on them. I must be divinely inspired, because they have been occuring to me in the shower on Sunday mornings while getting ready for church, but they seem to work. I thought I'd share a few with you. Here's a little background on this one -
We have had trouble finding a Presbyterian minister to work for us (as have a lot of smaller churches) because we just can't afford to pay anyone a decent salary, but we've had a slew of really great fill-in pastors over the last few years. A wonderfully engaging woman filled our pulpit all summer, and it really looked like we might be able to hire her part-time. Alas, another church closer to her home had a full-time opening, and she had to take it. She's trying to support her family, and we understood, but the change was going to be difficult. Even my kids were asking what we were going to do after Jodi left, she had made that much of an impact on everyone. It occurred to me that change in life is inevitable, but that doesn't mean it's easy. Here's the Children's Message I gave the week after Jodi left.

Last week, the cable guy had to come to my house. One of our satellite boxes wasn't working, and this was frustrating. It's the one clear in the back of our house, the one the grown-ups watch a lot, so we called the company and they scheduled a service call. On Friday afternoon, a short stocky guy knocked on the door. He checked out the tv in the living room, and determined that one was indeed working fine (because he's the expert he couldn't just take my word for it...) and I showed him to the back of the house where the other tv was. I don't think he stopped talking for longer than about three seconds the whole time he was there.
"Wow this is a long house, you must get your exercise around here! So the other box is back here? Do you have them hooked up to the phone line? Is there a phone in this room, cause I think I'm gonna need one, depending on what the problem is. Okay, here it is, now where is this plugged in? Wow, this is an old box, you've had this for quite awhile! Where is the dish? Can I get out there to see it? Okay, let's just hook up my monitor to this outlet and see what we have here. Okay, I see the problem, you're going to need a new box! I've got one in the truck, let me just hike back up there and get it. Do I cross a border or anything coming all the way back here? I'm getting my workout today, huh? Okay let's get this hooked up and I'll just need to call in and get it activated. Good! You're all set - here's your new remote and please just sign here!"
Now the old box was big and black and had this tiny green light and a remote that fit really nicely in your hand - my thumb knew where all the buttons were. The new box is small and silver and it has a really bright blue light and the remote is huge but all the buttons are in new places, and the abbreviations are different. It works, but these changes take some getting used to. I can still find my favorite shows, it just takes me longer to figure out which button to press.
Scripture tells us that change is part of God's plan. You know that verse - everyone can sing along if you want: to everything (turn turn turn) there is a season... So changes at church must be part of His plan, too. We have a new pastor today, and while we are going to miss Jodi, I'm sure that Matthew will do a great job. And even though he's new, there are lots of things about church that haven't changed a bit. I see all the familiar faces in the congregation, Sunday school was the same group you've been with all summer, and things are all still in the same place as last week.
With my new remote, I can get new and different information about the shows I'm watching, and I can find out about the different channels, and I couldn't do that before, so I'm learning something new with the change at my house. I'm sure we're going to learn something new and different from Pastor Matthew too. Change is an adventure, and we need to trust that the changes God brings our way are part of His plan for us.

I'm not used to the remote yet. I have to hold it at arm's length and then some to see some of the abbreviations (and even then I don't know what they all mean yet), but I can still find CSI reruns to entertain me while I cook dinner, and that's what counts, I guess.
It's probably a good thing that the cable guy came. I knew I wanted to have my message be about change, but I was going to take in baby pictures of the kids and embarrass the heck out of them...

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

September 11th Anniversary Thoughts

On September 11, 2001 I was at a doctor appointment with my month-old daughter and my 2½-year old son. Elliott raced small cars around the floor with another toddler, Abigail slept peacefully in her baby seat, and the adults in the waiting room silently watched the horrifying events on the wall-mounted television.
I wondered what political belief, what religion could possibly be so powerful to inspire these horrible acts. What institution promised its members so much to get them to take their own and other’s lives? What could possibly be worth that? I decided I didn’t know.
As I drove home that afternoon I spotted a huge American flag, billowing at half-mast. My chest tightened, the tears sprang to my eyes, my stomach dropped to my feet and I realized: I do know. I, too, have something worth fighting for, worth protecting, worth dying for. It’s called The United States of America – my home.
So what’s the difference? The United States of America was born, flourished and continues to thrive because it’s purpose is to ensure life, liberty, and opportunity for all its citizens. Terrorist groups exist simply because they have an enemy. They have no higher purpose, and their failure is inevitable. They have no foundation but hate.
September 11th is now my New Year, my resolution day. I resolve to teach my children love, compassion, charity, tolerance, goodwill, understanding and peace. I resolve to practice these things myself, for in them the higher purpose of the United States of America, and all its children, will live forever.