Friday, October 30, 2009

It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year....

...for the grandparents of my children. You see, November is "National Blog Posting Month" or NaBloPoMo. For some crazy reason, I've participated the past two years, and I guess I am again this year. The "rules" are that you have to post something to your blog at least once daily every day in November. If you do, you can win a prize. And really make the grandparents happy because, for at least one month of the year, I post more about their grandkids (sometimes even pictures)! (Because, really....what else is there to talk and post pictures about?)

So I guess, for the third year in a row, I am reluctantly throwing my hat into the figurative ring. Why reluctantly? Well...for the past two years I've made it about 3/4 of the way through and then just forgotten one it was all that work of thinking of something pithy to say for weeks on end for nothing (not that I'm guaranteed a prize or anything, but I didn't even get the sense of accomplishment for having actually succeeded).

But who knows? Maybe this year is my year!

Wait....I should _totally_ save this post for Sunday....

Monday, October 12, 2009

The Other Side of the Story

Here's the "other" side of the story...


So last weekend was a big one for me and my small group. When our small group started, we were doing a study called "40 Days of Community." As part of that study, we were supposed to do an "inreach" project (something to help our local church body) and an "outreach" project (something to help out community). Rick Warren suggested that we do something so big that _we_ couldn't do it alone, making it obvious that God actually did the hard stuff. We hemmed and hawed and just couldn't come up with anything. When we did, it was something that required someone outside of our group to do something for us without any of us able to be there. There was some miscommunication, so that didn't get done, leaving us without any projects planned and most of the way through the study.

But a while ago, I'd read another mommy blogger's post about her church doing a "clothing swap" where folks bring clothes, they sort them, then folks take clothes - it's open to church members the first night, then anyone the next day. And I've been following Shaun Groves' "shlog" for a while now, hearing about the work he does with Compassion, International...and an idea formed in my head for this ginormous weekend of meeting the needs of folks in our church, our community, and around the world.

So I presented the idea to my small group, expecting to hear what I'd heard from others before - "it's too much...maybe next year...maybe." Or the credulity of, "a Christian musician can't possibly come for free..." But their immediate response, with no questions or discouragement of any kind was, "That sounds GREAT - let's do it!"

So we started the process, getting approval from the church, then working out the details of Shaun coming. It didn't all come together for absolute certain until two weeks ago...but all of the sudden, all of the details were in place, exactly like I'd initially imagined them (and when I say that, what I really mean is "exactly like the idea that God had given me").

Folks helped sort the clothes (and each time I thought we were done, people brought more), and then folks came and took the clothes - over 90 people came, representing WAY more people than that. We had one couple come from a men's shelter in Capitol Heights, looking for clothes for 40 men! People brought canned goods too (because, well...why not?). And everything that was left over was sent to a pastor who works with refugees - he'd just had four new families come in - over 20 people in all! So hundreds of people were served by this one event, both within our church and outside of it!

Then Shaun came and sang in our morning services (even the one in Spanish)! Despite the nightmare I'd had that morning which woke me up at 4 and which was about a) me being late to meet them in the morning, and b) Shaun being a diva and yelling at me, he and Ben (his road manager/booking guy/sound guy extraordinaire) were great and just as personable, fun, and funny as I expected them to be. Then we had lunch and naps, then the concert. And people sponsored 47 kids!

So here I am, after the fact. There's nothing left to do - the clothes are taken care of, the canned goods are gone, Shaun and Ben are (hopefully) back in TN by now...all that's left is to rest today, soak my sore feet (love the boots...don't love the after-effects of walking in them all morning all over creation), and let the kids nap in their own beds at their normal times for the first time in many days!

Lowlights of the weekend:
- I didn't communicate effectively with my small group about when I needed folks where for the clothing swap, so it ended up being just me (with both kids) on Saturday morning when all of the people from outside the church came!
- Getting chastised by the couple from the men's shelter that we weren't having this again in a few weeks.
- Getting yelled at by the man in the couple from the men's shelter because AJ was standing at the doors - his son had lost a finger in similar doors.
- Not having a great turn-out at the concert.

Funny things of the weekend:
- Without help on Saturday morning, the canned goods were not effectively policed, so people started taking those in addition to clothes.
- We still had a few left over on Sunday though....but those had also disappeared by Sunday evening. Oh well...less work for me! And I can assume that the people who came needed the food!

- Getting to tell Shaun that he'd gotten my phone number from my brother shortly after I came back from overseas (to pick my brain about what it was like there and what the transition back to America had been like)...but like lots of men, he got my number but never called!
- Having the pastors "get" the idea behind the whole weekend.
- Having so many people show up to help with the clothing swap!
- Having people actually _come_ to the clothing swap!
- Having a place to take all the left over clothes!
- Having my friend Cindy bring lots of folks from her church to the concert! They nearly doubled our crowd!
- Having 47 kids sponsored!

It was a great weekend of helping our neighbors, both near and far!

Anyone want to give me a foot massage?

Saturday, October 03, 2009

MOPS Blog Tour - "Intimate Conversations: Devotions to Nurture a Woman's Soul"

So MOPS sent me another book to read - "Intimate Conversations: Devotions to Nurture a Woman's Soul" by Alicia Britt Chole. This time it's this year's theme devotional book. I'm not really sure how it goes with the theme exactly (Together on Planet Mom), but it was a great devotional book - I just wish I'd had more time to read it so that I could do just one a day instead of having to power through all of them to get done in time to post my review. (Disclaimer: they give me the books for free, but they want an honest review of's just that so far all the books have been really good!)

The book contains 52 different devotions, divided into 12 different categories. When I was counting them initially to see how many I needed to do per day, I thought - " I guess you could do one a week for a year...wonder why some are groups of 4 and some are groups of 5." It wasn't until just now that I counted the sections. Duh...12 months...52 weeks...

I'm a rocket scientist.

Anyway...the devotions are pretty short - usually 1.5-2 pgs, plus a little discussion or reflective journaling section of questions to think about and/or respond to. The sections don't really match up to the Planet Mom theme book sections, but you might be able to pick one per meeting that matched that month's meeting theme. Alternately, if you've got a women's Sunday School class or small group, this would be a great way to open your time together. They're not _BAD_ devotionals for mixed company, it's just all written from a woman's perspective using women as the examples.

As with all devotionals, some of the entries struck me more than others, but my favorite section (or rather the section that spoke to me the most) was one entitled "Dear God...why do I feel so unproductive?" The devotions in that section spoke of women who have chosen family over career (which I sort of have...the job is only part-time and isn't exactly way up there on the priority list, especially now that we're that much closer to being able to get by just on VNB's salary), and women who have gone through times of spiritual "winter."

It's not that I feel like God was ever far away or anything, but the first two years of marriage (which include AJ's pregnancy and the first year or so of his life) are a bit of a blur to me. And I'd stepped back from so many things at church that it's taken a while to really feel like myself again. Lately I seem to have found my footing again in terms of my "place" and it really seems like things are bearing fruit and expanding (for lack of a better term). So to have the analogy of a winter season where you just lie low for a while...well, it really made sense to me, especially given this new "spring" that I seem to be encountering.

Anyway, I plan on keeping these in my pump bag and reading one every time I pump, giving myself ample time to really think through the devotion and the reflection questions. I'm also looking forward to the next book MOPS sends me!

And the required stuff:
Available September 2009 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

Friday, October 02, 2009

I Am The Very Model of a Modern Major General I'm not really, but that song is running through my head as I scamper about keeping balls in the air.

Let's see....the in-laws (of both sides) will be glad to know that VNB found our camera last night, so pictures will abound as much as ever again. Woohoo! (Really, I promise - at the very least we can actually _take_ them again, even if I don't manage to post them ever.)

But even other than that amazing find, the world is a little topsy-turvy for me right now - nothing at all bad, just lots and lots to do and keep track of. Once next week is over, things "should" settle down again...but then I think I've been saying that since June.

So this Sunday starts the collection of clothes for our "first annual" (that means that it's the first time we've done it and theoretically we want to do it again, but let's see how this first one goes first, mmm'kay?) clothing swap. So people will drop off their "gently-used" clothing at the church Sunday, Oct 4 - Friday, Oct 9th. My small group (and hopefully some others) will sort the clothes and they'll be given out to church members on Friday night (Oct 9th) and the community on Saturday (Oct 10th). We'll take canned food donations at the door, but they're not required. Just please don't take all of our clothes in order to sell them at your own yard sale. That would be kinda rude. Click here for directions.

So theoretically, by Friday we'll have everything sorted out and people will come and take what they need. That may or may not happen though because the room that we've been assigned (which is probably too small anyway) isn't free until after MOPS on Thursday. So Wednesday we'll be seeing what's there and doing what we can out in the hallway and maybe on the front of the stage, then Thursday after MOPS we'll really start the mad sorting.

But wait...there's I'm supposed to sing on Sunday morning with the praise team which means rehearsal Wednesday night...and since I'm there anyway, I might as well stay a little later to help set up for MOPS the next day.

And in MOPS the next day I'm in charge of the "creative activity" which this month is wrapping Operation Christmas Child shoe boxes. Last year we had like 50 boxes to wrap and I think we managed to wrap about 25 at the actual meeting, but ended up at about 100 boxes total...most of which I wrapped myself. So there's probably going to be a shoebox wrapping station at the welcome desk (or whatever) for the clothing swap....because we're supposed to have them all wrapped and ready to be handed out on Sunday the 11th.

But wait...there's more! So Sunday at church we'll also have Christian artist Shaun Groves at the church to sing and talk about the work of Compassion, International. He'll be in the services on Sunday morning, but will also be doing a concert on Sunday night. We've been working on this concert since um....May, I think....but only got firm confirmation that he was coming last Friday (lots and lots of reasons for that, not the least of which is my own penchant for procrastination) and only got the contract in hand yesterday. Which means that all the advertising that I've been putting off needs to be done YESTERDAY!!!! So the church is printing posters and I'll pick them up tonight to start posting in various places. Announcements (for both the concert and the clothing swap) went out in the Fall Festival bags last weekend and there's been stuff in the bulletin, but I just posted stuff to local radio station events pages today.

And I'm also tying up loose ends at work for lots of stuff as we come down to the wire for this spacecraft that I'm working on.

And my power adaptor for my laptop stopped being recognized by my system so I'm having to track down a new one of those and tech support doesn't believe that I know the difference between a power adaptor failure and a battery failure.

So I just feel like I've got 500 balls in the air. I've got lots of help with most of them, but there are so many things vying for my attention right now that it's hard to focus on anything. Especially with random VeggieTales songs (or Gilbert & Sullivan, as the case may be) stuck in my head.

Ok...but I'm at work now, so I should focus on work. And stop blogging about all I have to do that I need to focus on...

Oh, and did I mention that I've had several people now ask if Joanna knows how to talk? It would appear that she can answer yes/no questions. And might possibly know how to say "Cat." The Cat part is pretty normal...and saying "yes" or "no" isn't too far from normal...but actually answering questions? That's something that AJ still can't do reliably. And he's no dummy. But that would be like scary advanced - not only understanding the words in the question, but the form of question/answer itself AND being able to correctly respond, depending on the question. It's really a lot, if you think about it.

Ok....but to work....for more stuff I need to do....

Oh yeah...I've got to write a review of the latest MOPS book they sent me!!! When is that due....