Saturday, December 1, 2012

One for flowin' sleigh

Emma and I have been singing Christmas carols in the car. Her chronic lyricosis is so funny to me. I am reminded about not understanding the words to many Christmas carols when I was little, too.

Seriously, what does "in-egg-shell-she-day-o" actually mean, anyway?

My current favorite Emma-rewording is:

Jingle bell, bells, jingle all the way.
So much fun it is a ride in one for flowin' sleigh
Jingle bell, jingle bells,
So much fun it is a ride in one for flowin' sleigh.

Or better yet;

Silent Night, Holy Night
All is calm, all is bright.
Round, yawn, virgin,
Mother and Child
Holy infant, so tender and WILD.
Sleep in heavenly peace, sleep in heavenly peace.

But sometimes, we change it too. We change Christmas to something so silly and confetti-ish; throw a party, decorate a tree and give a gift. It's all so fun and heart warming. But that night wasn't heart warming. The world wasn't warming and lovely. The people needed help. They'd gone so far and were desperate for a way back to the truth and freedom they'd once known. So have we.

So, I'm joining ranks with my back seat songbird and changing my lyrics, too. An old carol that I can sing without thinking about the words I'm saying ( we all do that, don't we?) has become my Christmas prayer this year.

O, come, o come, Emmanuel.
And ransom captive, Israel.
That mourns in lonely exile here,
Until the son of God appears.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel.
Shall come to thee, o Israel.

O come, o come, Emmanuel!
Come ransom captives, in our world.
Those in lonely exile here,
We need you to come and breathe life, again.
Please come! Please come, Emmanuel!
We need you to come and breathe life, again.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

R79

It all began with a car rental. Gil had to get one for a ministry trip he had scheduled. He picked it up Friday afternoon because he needed it Monday morning and you can't pick up rentals over the weekend.

We always reserve the compact cars since they are the cheapest to rent and best on gas. But when he went to pick it up at his scheduled time, they had already rented all the smallest cars. There was one car left in the lot and they had to give it to him...a Chrysler 300M with leather, heated seats, on board computer, rear view reserve camera and a stereo system that actually allowed us to hear all the words clearly.

You see....we drive a minivan. I love my minivan, I truly do. Here's when the BUT comes in- it's ten years old, the front windows don't go up and down reliably, it's encrusted with kid crud and we are currently refilling the power steering fluid weekly because of a *little* leak. It's like the best pair of jeans.... It's my favorite car and it has been with us through so much... But it's newness was gone many trips to the dump ago. Three of the four speakers are blown, which is why we never knew some of our music had drums in the band. Nevertheless, I love our mini.

The fancy blue dashboard lights were just the beginning.

Saturday morning at the girls' soccer practice, Gil's co-coach handed us tickets to the Revolution Game. (I wondered the same thing....the Revolution is New England's professional soccer team.) We were excited to go, and since it was his birthday, it was a perfect outing for him. I was just happy to tag along and enjoy a night out with my husband...something that we wish we could do more. The coach said he thought they were good seats, but couldn't find them on the stadium website. He assumed that meant we we sitting on the field. Very cool.

So, we enjoyed our ride in the swanky 300 and reveled in the more-than-coincidence birthday surprises for Gil. He lives and breathes soccer. What a great gift!

We parked in the first lost we saw and walked through three other lots to get to the door of GilletteSstadium. The employee didn't recognize our seating assignment, so he forwarded us to his supervisor. We were expecting him to point us to some seats near the field, but he said; "woah, these are club level seats!" and pointed us in the direction to the elevators to go up.

The Blue Club level offered a GREAT view of the field. But we were Red Level, so we kept looking and found another employee to help us...many of them didn't seem to know where we were supposed to go. After a few hand-offs, we met the man in the suit in the elevator. There were several stressed phone calls, confirmation that our tickets were valid and quite the buzz of confusion as to who we were and why our box wasn't unlocked. The suit was embarrassed and kept apologizing.

He asked where we got our tickets and we shared that Gil coached pee wee soccer and was given them by his friend, named Jeff. Jeff had gotten the tickets from his work, which we couldn't remember the name of.... But we told the suit that Jeff worked for a solar panel company. "Oh, NRG!"

Wow, three little letters have just changed everyone's countenance and now the stress and apologies doubled.

"Get them sodas."

" Here is a buffet, dessert, waters. Fill up a plate. Get whatever you want. We are so sorry for the confusion."

Nicely dressed man #2 joins and makes small talk with Gil while we walked hurriedly through the press box and onto the private area of the stadium. R79 is now unlocked for us and Ann is there uncovering our leather seats. The suit opens the large glass windows and assures us that we will have whatever we need. We've missed 24 minutes of the game (including the first-and only goal) but we were simply amazed at where these tickets had just taken us.

Before leaving us, Ann asked where we parked so she could explain to us how to easily get back to our car. We told her we had parked three lots over, near the Bass Pro shop. She said we could have parked right outside and walked into W2. Whatever that was. Gil was through the roof excited to see the game.

I kept thinking of the banquet table. Not the one in the hallway from which we loaded up our plates, but the one we have been invited to in heaven. Only, that table will be so much cooler than this, by far.

At this point, I was VERY thankful I didn't wear my holey jeans.

Our excitement was interrupted by Gail. She came in our private box to apologize again, on behalf of Gillette Stadium. We shook hands, told her not to worry and got back to the game and the baffled, wide opened mouth looks we had on our faces.

Another knock at the door. Gil was introduced to our personal assistant. She would stand outside of our box and help us with whatever we needed. We just had to let her know.

We were being treated like royalty. If they only knew who we were...or weren't. Gil told each of these people we interacted with the story of how we had the tickets, that we weren't actually NRG employees and that we were very happy with all they had done for us. It didn't matter. Our tickets said R79 and so the red carpet was per verbally rolled out before us.

The 90 minute are flew by. In fact, I don't think any athletic event has ever passed before my eyes so quickly in all my life. Where did the time go? Did we really have to leave our box already?

We grabbed sodas for the road ( from our full stocked fridge) and left R79. Our personal assistant pointed in the direction of the quickest way to leave the stadium. The private elevator took us to a hallway protected by another stadium employee. He stopped and asked if we were trying to leave or if we needed to get out into the crowd. We told him we were leaving and he said, "since you came out of that door, you can just walk up those few stairs and you'll be on your way. You don't need to get mixed in with all of these people."

We turned around, took the short stairs and left through W2, the doors we *should* have come in through. We crossed the access road and walked through the VIP parking lot where we *should* have parked. Three parking lots later, we located the 300 via the push start button on the key. We got in and Gil reversed the car using the camera and we were on our way home.

Still baffled. Sad our unexpectedly amazing night was ending, but awed at the awesomeness of it all.

We wanted to stay at the banqueting table a little longer. We wanted to revel in the greatness of our evening. He and I were still amped when we got home, too excited and amazed to sleep. We kept listing ways this night had shown us so many things of God:

Our ticket said R79, therefore it didn't matter who we were-or weren't- they considered us worthy of royal treatment.

Like the song my kids sing, written from Song of Soloman 2:5, "He brought me to His banqueting table and his banner over me says LOVE"

We felt loved, lavished beyond our imagination, and so ecstatic to experience such a night. One other thing; we knew that Jeff had an entire stack of these tickets- 30 more to be precise. If we had known, we would have brought everyone we knew with us. How fun would a private box be with 31 of your closest friends- on your birthday! Come on, now! If we had only known....





Thursday, August 9, 2012

One Year Anniversary


365 days ago we began a new chapter in our lives. We moved 609 miles away to a place completely unfamiliar. We knew things would change, but we were unsure how. We didn’t have an address to move to, but I was sure God still knew where we were. 

It’s been an awesome year. 
It’s been the toughest year. 

I have had so much fun exploring, meeting new people and sharing about why we are here. But I have also faced feelings of loneliness, doubt, concern, and sadness. 

You know I like lists, so here goes. Ignore the superficial parts of this list. I thought about not including them, but decided to keep them all because it’s me. 

Positives:
  • When shopping or enrolling online, I no longer have to scroll to the lowest part of the alphabetical states lists to find Virginia....Connecticut is so much closer to the top. I have saved a whopping total of 3 seconds over the course of the year this way. 
  • I live in the brick house I never knew I wanted. 
  • I have developed an affinity for the dozens of varieties of birds that live on or around our property; everything from hummingbirds and bright orange orioles to woodpeckers and owls. 
  • I reeeealy like living closer to major shopping. (Although, it is still a 22 minute drive.)
  • Learning and living in the history of New England. One day I'll write about my favorite New Englander, a dead guy named Titus Cone. 
  • I find it hysterical when my kids explain that they live in Connecticut now, but used to live in a place called “Farmbill”. 
  • Gaining a wide-eyed view of a church culture far different from that in Virginia. All the essentials are present, but the size, personality and frequency are different. That’s an entire blogpost in and of itself. 
  • I have enjoyed living in a place that is very focused on maintaining good health. 
  • In response to the previous statement, I have found myself making more sweet tea, cornbread and biscuits than ever before. 
  • A recent visitor from VA asked me, “So do you consider yourself a Yankee yet?” I had a hard time answering...because I kinda do. 
  • I find the directness refreshing, albeit a bit alarming at times. I know what people are thinking and don’t worry about hearing a different story later on. (Or other people hearing a different story than I hear.....YOU know what I mean!)
  • Judah is so much happier living in a cooler climate.
  • We’ve all added to our boot and jacket collection; one of my most favorite forms of love. 
  • We are so thankful for a nice big field to grow our own food in. (Despite our rocky start, we WILL become better homesteaders!)
  • Dairy Bar. Dairy Bar. Dairy Bar. 
  • New friends. And hoping for 28,000 more. 
  • The array of cultures. 
  • Living so close to so much. 
  • New writing opportunities!
  • Serving in different ministry capacities than I have previously; I’ve enjoyed the creativity required and learning new things. 
  • The opportunities for my kids and freedom in homeschooling. 

Negatives: 
  • We began this year in CT with a bad burn on my youngest’s left hand. And celebrating our first anniversary of being New Englanders with a bad burn on my left hand. A lesson in dealing with physical pain.
  • I miss living in a newly built home...older homes have loads of lovely character and lots of places that need lovin’. (And by lovin’, I mean hours of hard work to repair or bring to new life.) A lesson in sweat equity. 
  • Gas and grocery prices. Yuck. A lesson in frugality. 
  • I miss my friends. My family misses their friends. A lesson in having a heart that feels something. 
  • I miss knowing my oldest brother wasn’t too far away. I never knew I ever thought about that. A lesson in letting myself need someone. 
  • I have ached deeply when dear ones in Virginia have dealt with hard things and I haven’t been there to offer support. This was so hard. Probably the hardest part of this year, by far. A lesson in mourning for those that mourn and praying, because that’s all I could do. 
  • The familiarity of knowing our campus, inside and out. The ease of being known on campus. A lesson in patience. 
  • We no longer live across the street from campus. This has it’s benefits too (land and space, etc.) but the convenience of walking to campus was nice. A lesson in resource management. 


When I asked my youngest what she liked best about moving to Connecticut, she listed the following things:
  • Her room and the chance to play in it and in her school room. 
  • Campus, because she likes the pizza in the restaurant nearby and how they serve the pizza. 
  • Swinging on the tree swing next to Mirror Lake on campus. 

And the same question asked to our oldest, provided me with this response:
  • Playing with my new favorite friends. 
  • My school work. 
  • Going swimming, 
  • Playing and picking [veggies] in our garden. 
  • Going to the student bookstore on campus. 

*Tuesday, August 9, 2011, (@4:30pm) is the day we drove away from our sweet home in Farmville, VA. Wednesday, August 10, 2011 was the day we stepped foot onto Connecticut soil. Come back tomorrow to read about the biggest lesson I learned during the first few months of living here~ 

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

There's a first time for everything....

It's the 4th of July. What better way than to celebrate the 4th than with a parade, right? Let's mix the excitement of an Independence Day parade with the uniqueness of this small town in New England and see what happens. 
See if you can spot anything out of the ordinary....

My parade crew is ready for the experience. The ladies behind my family are part of the band.

The local balloon people are there. The lady on the right, yep...she's also a part of the band. 

This guy isn't a part of the parade, but at the same time, he is. He is part of the band. 

Prior to taking this picture, I'd never noticed how cute some of our Main Street buildings are! Loads of band members here...all ready and waiting for the action to begin. 

And, we're off. 

Cute hat, my dear. 

Parade Mama, whomever that may be, made this fun banner. See, the guy in the tie-die? He is a HUGE part of the band. 

See? 

The parade had all the regular participants...the fire trucks. 

And the old cars. 

We have tractors going down Main Street here, too! 

And old trucks. 

I wonder how frequently the Titanic gets to participate in a 4th of July Parade? 

The local schools march along. 


The bee-keepers join. Their cute little bee-keeper girls gave out A Bit-O-Honey candy.... how apropos.

I think this parade participant takes the title of Band Drum Major. WILI is a local radio station. 

The Queen of Caffeine arrives. No joke. 


Unsure of these gents' identities, but they are super serious. 

Yep. He was here, too. 

Look! We spotted some friends! 

And a local dairy. 

No high school marching bands. Not a single drum, trumpet, fife, or cymbal. Only boom boxes. When I first heard about this Boom Box Parade, I wasn't quite sure enough boom boxes remained in working condition to make this happen. But somehow, in this Quiet Corner of Connecticut, enough people dust off their old Sony boom box, crank up their emergency radios or blast their car stereos to make it happen. Everyone becomes a member of the marching band as they tune their radios to the local station and pump out the classic parade melodies. 

It was a great way to spend our first Independence Day in Connecticut...and we plan on bringing our own Boom Box next year! 

~Happy 4th of July~



Thursday, March 1, 2012

What an honor...


Today I've had the great honor of guest blogging for my dear friend, Chris. She's written for me before and now I get to repay her the favor. You can check it out on her blog, This is the Life.

Don't forget to sign up (just over there, to the right and down a bit) to become a follower of my blog. You can also leave a comment anytime you wish...I would LOVE to hear from you!

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Hi there! I am reposting what I shared on my other blog in case some of you didn't see it!


Two days ago I began a journey- a 52 week journey of spiritual formation. I am walking this journey with a new friend and together we will discuss a variety of topics- everything   from mapping our life’s journey to our personal theologies of time and our honest relationship with the Bible. 
I will be sharing my thoughts about this journey, called The 7th Year, with you as I go. I hope you’ll cheer me on during the weeks it get’s tough...and maybe begin the journey yourself. 
The 7th Year, written and hosted by Alicia Britt Chole, is an e-journey. Each week I get an email with a some thought provoking material and a guided discussion/activity. My friend and I will discuss our thoughts on the weekly email- in person and electronically...whichever suits our week the best. 
I was intrigued by the title- The 7th Year. Chole writes that 
“When we study the biblical passages about the 7th, Sabbath, year, this command contains several challenging components:
  • Rest the land and hear the Law
  • Release slaves and cancel debts
  • Make no profit and give generously.
In an agricultural community, such a year would drastically change the fabric of a community. Space would be startling (and space is very telling).
The 7th Year is a focused space, neither extra nor empty, but devoted and healing.
There is something in the name, The 7th Year, that marries hope—a life-giving yet invisible substance—with a participation that is tangible. There is something about the name that fuses a fragrant, timeless mystery with a compelling, timely invitation.”
Doesn’t that just make you want to sit still and join me? If this strikes you as AWESOME, you can download a free sample of her email....you can read what I got to read this last week. You can do the activity- mapping your life- that I was able to do. Visit her website www.the7thyear.com and see for yourself! 

Heartache and hope- things the 7th year allows. 


All this talk about 7 years and life mapping causes me to ask what have I been doing the last 7 years of my life. Thinking back to February 2005.... Gil and I were in our second year of marriage. We were in the first year as directors of Chi Alpha Campus Ministry at Longwood University. We didn't have kids yet. We lived on Franklin Street in a super cute little house. And the previous month I asked Annette to mentor me- certainly a life-changing moment. (You can read her own wise words here and here.) The last 7 years have brought about such change in my life. I have fought battles that ended in victory and defeat, I have made choices that brought life-long lessons, I have found friends that will remain close despite miles, and hopefully, I have gained some wisdom from all of it. This season of itinerating for Chi Alpha @ Uconn and transition from VA to CT has caused my to ask questions that have never crossed my mind, confront unspoken and internal values I gathered somewhere in life, and walk a faith tightrope like never before. 
I am up for a year of Sabbath. In a somewhat literal sense and entirely figurative sense, I am ready to step back and think through this life of mine. 
Has the soil where life has taken place been stripped of it's nutrients? Would a time of rest/sabbath/fallow replenish the components necessary for healthy life? 

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Motto


Have you ever heard, sung, watched, experienced something that you’ve done dozens, maybe hundreds, of times before, but for some reason, it suddenly became drastically different? It happened to me...
A few months before our big move, I was singing a song I’ve sung for years...
So faithful. So constant. 
So loving and so true.
So powerful in all You do.
You fill me. You see me. 
You know my every move
and You love for me to sing to You.
I know that You are for me. 
I know that You are for me.
I know that You will never, 
forsake me in my weaknesses.
~You Are For Me, by Kari Jobe
For some (obvious) reason, the line “you know my every move” struck me so differently. I had always thought this line was a paraphrase of Psalm 139:2....”you know when I sit, you know when I rise...”, and it is, undoubtedly. But my thoughts instantly connected to God’s knowledge of my daily habits to his awareness of our upcoming move. I know it sounds silly. We wouldn’t have been moving to Connecticut without the leading of the Holy Spirit, so why wouldn’t he have deep, intimate knowledge of the situation...?
Despite this obvious point now becoming a life-changing moment for me, I found a peace knowing that God was aware. He knew we were de-cluttering everything we could, packing everything we owned, and leaving everything we knew. Just knowing that God knows produced peace. The kind of peace that words could not describe and the only way I could respond was to be silent, completely silent. 
*Fast forward to yesterday* 
After my workout, I grabbed a free copy of a calendar sitting on a table on my way out of the gym, thinking it would be nice to flip through the picturesque moments of New England. I walked in the kitchen door at home, tossed it on the counter and went on with my day. Later in the evening, I opened it to browse and I was struck by what I found on the inside of the front cover. Each New England states’ facts were listed. Get this: 
Connecticut’s State Motto, as represented on the state flag, is : Qui Transtulit Sustine. Translation, please: “He who transplanted continues to sustain”. 
Sounds like something else I’ve read before. “I will never leave you or forsake you...” (Joshua 1:5) or maybe, perhaps the scripture that historians believe the motto was derived from, Psalm 80; “You brought us out of Egypt like a grapevine and transplanted us into your land. You cleared the ground for us, and we took root and filled the land. (vs.8-9)
Does this strike you as odd as it strikes me? Connecticut, the state with the lowest  (demographically-proven) percentage of believers, has a statement of God’s sustaining power as their motto. Flying outside of every public school and university, fire house, government building, police station and community center is a flag that says “God brought us here and will always take care of us” (my paraphrase).
I wonder how many Connecticuties are even aware of who sustains their breath each morning, who sustains the sun and moon as they rise and set each day, who sustains their heart each of the 100,000 times it beats a day? Here, as everywhere, people trust in themselves, their paychecks, their positions, their brains and brawn. Our independent spirit has cause our dependence on the One who Sustains to shrivel and become forgotten. 
Can I state the obvious again? God brought us here, transplanted our roots and will caused them to dig deeply into the ground and fill the land. 
God, will you remind us of your sustaining blessings each day? Cause us to depend on you more and allow us to impact “the land” around us as our roots grow deeply in this ground. Grasp the attention of those around me...they walk and drive past a statement of your sustaining blessings everyday, may it grab them at their core.... ~Amen. 
http://www.usatoday.com/news/graphics/pew-religion-08/flash.htm