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Boxing day

During his missions update this morning at church, Scott showed a brief video testimony from a pastor in India who had been strongly impacted by Scott’s use of noodles to represent women’s brains’ tendency to connect every thought with every other thought and boxes to represents men’s brains’ tendency to compartmentalize their thoughts. Every time Scott shows that video here in the States, the audience laughs, probably because we can all relate to those differences. I am definitely a “noodler,” and I can be very easily distracted by how one thought leads to another, pushing me to break off from one ongoing task to start a different one, which I will partially complete before it conjures up yet another thought, which will send me rushing to do something else. Lather, rinse, repeat, all the live-long day!

I do a bit of volunteer work for our church, coordinating our helps ministry and creating its monthly calendar schedule, writing the weekly church bulletin, and being the point person for prayer requests. I truly like to do these various tasks, but a typical morning tends to go something like this: Debbie texts me a reminder that she will probably be out of town on October 13th and so will not be available to greet that day. No problem. I pause the Quicken entries I was working on to make that note on my master church calendar before texting her back a quick “thumbs up,” but with the master church calendar open, I am reminded that Pastor Barb wanted me to be sure to put the Life Chain in the October helps calendar AND in the bulletin for the next three weeks. I write Life Chain on October 6 of the master church calendar and then pull up next week’s bulletin. But wait: next week’s bulletin doesn’t yet exist. I pull up last week’s bulletin, make a couple quick date changes and save it as next week’s bulletin, thinking to myself that I will work on the bulletin on Thursday, but while I’m here I really should do something to remind me to put Life Chain in the next two bulletins as well. However, before I have chance to do that, I get a text from Richard saying that Amber, who had surgery earlier this week, has been re-admitted to the hospital with a possible impacted colon and to please have people pray. This is important, so I copy his text to an email, send it to myself, bring it up on my computer, pray for Amber, and send out a prayer request email to the church.

None of these tasks is huge, but taken together they have now occupied an amount of time and a number of brain cycles. As a result, I now have several tasks partially done, I need to rotate laundry, and I wanted to get to the post office before it gets too hot. But if I leave for he post office now, odds are I’ll forget to make a note about Life Chain in three bulletins, and if Debbie can’t greet on the 13th and I put in Charmaine, I’ll also need to schedule Tim to usher that day, but since he really needs to do some new-usher training with Patrick, who will be in nursery with his wife that day, I’ll need to re-work the other October ushers. But do I need to do that today? Not really. But should I go ahead and work on it while I’m thinking about it? Probably.

And this is why, by lunch time for crying out loud, I’m still not done with the (frankly long-forgotten) Quicken entries!

And that is why I think I’ve got to figure out a way to Put. The. Church. In. A. BOX.

Yes, a box of squishy noodles is obviously just exactly what I need… so maybe I can make tomorrow Boxing Day!

Feel free to ask how that worked for me.  = )

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I’ve heard it all now!

My friend is a Christian but unchurched. She and her kids have come to our church two or three times over the past couple years. She used to work Sundays and so couldn’t come, but she’s no longer working so I’m hopeful to get her involved in church. She has started working the PTM discipleship course and is very excited about it. We were going to get together today to discuss the first lesson (which she has completed), but she’s really busy today prepping for an Easter dinner, so we moved our meeting to Monday afternoon.

Anyway, I invited her to come to church on Sunday, saying that it will be a great Easter service. She replied. “My mother-in-law JUST has to have a Easter dinner so I have to make it or there’s no living with her… I would go but I’m having to cook Easter dinner.” Now that struck me as extremely funny and terribly sad. You can’t go to church just ONE TIME on Easter because you have to cook an Easter dinner?!?!? I replied, “What’s an Easter dinner without an Easter resurrection celebration?!?”

Indeed.

We’re not having an Easter dinner, but I can tell you that we’re going to have a glorious party at church!!!

On serpentine items

Nearly every morning, although now that the weather is getting cooler, it’s more like every other morning, I water tomatoes. This involves taking down five or six loops of black hose from my handy-dandy hose hanger, flopping the pile of hose onto the ground, turning on the water, and pulling the hose toward the side yard barrels or front yard pots of tomatoes. But most of the time, the hose on the ground manages to tie itself in knots, and I have to stop and try to disentangle the mess. Since I’ve been doing this at least 26 times a month for the past five and-a-half months, that comes to something like 143 times I have dealt with the sometimes-tangled hose. You’d think I would have a worked all the kinks out of my procedure (pun intended) by now!

Today I was up at the church vacuuming the sanctuary. I won’t mention the minor frustration involved in navigating a vacuum cleaner between the 288 legs of some 72 ganged chairs, first from the front side of a row, and then from the back side thereof. That’s kind of tedious stuff, but I am fairly good at – and actually energized by – doing boring, mundane, repetitive task, so I fell to with a vengeance and conquered all those crumbs. The vacuuming was a little more challenging than normal because on Wednesday night, Pastor Barb had had the congregation divided into five groups in five widely spaced locations along the walls of the sanctuary, using straws to blow spit wads at post-it note targets on the walls. It was an effective object lesson about sin and missing the mark, but three days later, there were tiny spit wads all over the floor and stuck on the walls; some higher than I could reach to scrape off.

Anyway, my main issue today was not with the chair legs or the spit wads; it was with the @!#$^% (I’m pretty sure that spells “STUPID!”) 100-foot orange extension cord. That beast has somehow gotten majorly twisted, such that it’s a royal pain to roll up and an even greater royal pain to unroll. It’s all lumpy and bumpy, like its insides have been wrung very tightly. When you pick it up in a given place, it jumps like a living thing and instantly coils itself into a twisted nightmare. And if you try to pull on the ends to untwist it, it will attack your shins with a vengeance. It’s kinkier than black hair, for crying out loud!

So having dealt with a 100-foot long kinked hose and a 100-foot long kinked extension cord in the same morning, I’m ready for everything to be smooth, free, and unencumbered tomorrow.

Family Fun Night

Our Wednesday night services have, for several months, featured the youth and adults combined, which means things are just a bit louder, dimmer, and more active than some of us are accustomed to at church. But, as Larry tells Bob says in the intro to Veggie Tales, “It’s for the kids.” And so it is, and we are glad to spend some focused time in ways that minister to our young people.

We usually have silly ice-breakers and group discussions with lots of interesting questions, but tonight was billed as Family Fun Night, a time for youth and adults to interact with each other in many ways involving spirit, soul, and body. It ended up being more fun than I had anticipated and some of the events were totally hilarious.

I opted to pass on Bubble Ball Soccer. I actually experimented with it earlier in the week, but the Bubble Ball was just too claustrophobic for me. I also declined all three rounds of the Hula Hoop challenge. Round One was standard Hula Hooping, which Nevaeh won, hips down, Round Two was using a Hula Hoop as a jump rope, and Round Three was jumping rapidly back and forth among four Hula Hoops that were lying on the ground. See Kris bounce like a maniac and fall to the ground on her back!

I did, however, hold my own in solving riddles and playing Four Square. I came in second to Tara in Four Square; turns out we were both champions in our elementary school years.  = )  I think I could have competed in the Jeopardy-style Bible Quiz questions, but we left that to Bob and Sister Jean, who were both quite successful.

And then there was the matter of Dodge Ball. I only hit a victim twice, and I was also only hit twice, but I think that was because they considered me an “older” woman, and so were being nice to me.

Overall, thanks to Zach’s Bubble Balling, Cheryl’s Hula Hooping, Bill’s Ball-Dodging, Jean and Bob’s biblical answering, Tara’s Four Squaring, and my logical deciphering, our team took first place. We were proud and happy, and then we all worked together to re-set the sanctuary for Sunday. . . when things are likely to be a bit calmer. . . or maybe not.

Simple pleasure

I help with some of the bookkeeping in our church’s office. My part takes about an hour to do, and it’s one of those boring, mundane, repetitive tasks that most people dread and try to avoid, but which I totally enjoy and gravitate toward. Our pastor recently hired a super-WONDERFUL assistant, and one of my tasks is to train her to do the bookkeeping I’ve been handling. The procedure is complex and not especially intuitive, so I’ve been working on documenting the entire process in such detail that someone who has never done it before could follow along and do it. It took me three hours to complete my four-page “cheat sheet,” what with using one computer to perform each individual step and then using another computer to write down exactly how to do that step, but now it’s FINISHED(!!!), and I’m so jazzed. I think it’s going to be quite useful, and that is really exciting to me.

I remember when I was working in the TV department of a church the year before Katie was born. We had just put a Christian TV station on the air, and I was responsible for “traffic,” the coordinating of all the incoming and outgoing videotapes and the scheduling and organizing of all our satellite recordings. I spent months designing and improving our system, and once I had most of the kinks worked out, I documented it all in a series of color-coded three-ring binders. (This was back in the day of handwriting on notebook paper.) Several years after I resigned my job to stay home with our oldest, the church purchased a computer – a totally novel idea! – and the TV department guys set up a system on the computer to handle the traffic, but they told me that the logic they used was exactly what I had worked so hard to perfect and document.

It’s very interesting to me that a quarter century later I’m still energized by doing the same kind of work.

The joy of labels

Some of us relish unusual experiences.  Today Jessica and I worked at the church for a while, coming pretty close to completing a major task we started on yesterday.  Jessica’s helping our pastor as interim children’s minister for a few months while she’s home, and she’s been working like a mad woman to get some systems figured out, set up, tested, and functional before she leaves in a few weeks.  To that end, she’s done a ton of organizing, and yesterday and today, we worked in what has become the “children’s ministry supplies room” sorting reams of construction paper, zillions of pipe cleaners, an unbelievably large collection of children’s safety scissors, and what appeared to be a gross of glue sticks (plus LOTS of other stuff).

Today we finished up the more fun part:  labeling everything and putting signs on cabinets to direct the various workers where to find what they need to do what they in ministering to the kids, because as we all know, “It’s for the kids.”

It was supremely satisfying to get the boxes and bins positioned for maximal effectiveness and then label everything clearly.

Due to remodeling through the years, the light switch in this particular room is currently positioned behind a crib that is almost maximally distant from the door, and reaching it requires one to navigate a maze of toys and supplies that used to be used when the church ran a preschool (which it no longer does) and which are stored in this same room.  So in addition to tamer labels like “Puppet Props” and “Game Prizes” and “Cotton Balls and Q-Tips,” I also got to make fun signs with arrows, saying things like “Light Switch is in Back Left Corner Behind Crib” and “Light Switch That-A-Way.”

Jessica and I just has a grand time, as we are both embarrassingly beavish when it comes to decluttering, organizing, and labeling.  However, Pastor Barb was at the church after we left, and she said we did a great job.

Maybe the only thing better than making labels is having someone else appreciate them.

“We Are”

And I am. . . really proud of Andrew at church this morning, that is.  Usually he plays the background keyboard for worship and sometimes he also sings background vocals.  Because our worship leader (Jessica) was out today, one of the young ladies who usually harmonizes (Taylor) was singing lead, and Andrew and Alexis sang harmony.  He did a good job.  Then right before the sermon, he also sang a special, Kari Jobe’s “We Are.”  I could tell he was a bit nervous – and this is the guy who never gets nervous on stage! – but he sang well and the congregation responded with applause.  = )  That was his first time to sing a solo at church, or anywhere, for that matter.

So musically all went well, and then during the sermon, Pastor Barb called him up to sit in a chair as an object lesson about Psalm 91:1.  He sat down in the chair but looked skeptical when she brought out an umbrella (perhaps remembering the time she fed him baby food as an object lesson. . . ), so she let him off the hook.  She had him stand to the side and asked another young lady to come sit in the chair under the umbrella.  But it turns out Andrew had inadvertently played right into her hand.  Her point was that when we get out from under God’s shadow in his secret place, we are unprotected.  So she poured some water over Bethany’s head, and of course, Bethany stayed dry under the umbrella.  Then Pastor Barb ran over to Andrew and slung the rest of the water at him!  We all had a good laugh, the point was made, and Andrew’s shirt was still damp when we got home.

What a service!

We had a wonderful, amazing church service today.  God showed up in powerful ways and ministered to his people!  Worship was great (Andrew played keyboard for much of it), Pastor Guy prayed for several people, and Jessica preached a very high energy, passionate message about testimony.

WOW!  It was a great service!

The big mow

This week was our life group’s turn to clean and mow the church.  Right now, there are only two families attending our group, so that limits the pool of people from which to draw for these kinds of things.  We (Shane, his wife, Georgie, and Andrew and I) had originally planned to meet do the cleaning and mowing on Saturday, but due to some scheduling changes, we all agreed that Thursday would work better.  We planned to meet at the church at 9 AM Thursday to clean and mow.  Rain was expected, and if it interfered, we’d move the mowing part to Friday.

Well, by 10:00 AM, we had done all the cleaning, and it had been raining, but when the rain stopped, Shane went out to the shed to see which mower(s) were there and what state they were in.  Turns out both the church’s rider and push mower were in the state of Missouri, but that was about all.  The rider has been giving people lots of trouble – hard to start, super difficult to keep running – for YEARS, and right now it has two flat tires and a dead battery, to boot.  We knew we’d need to bring either Shane’s rider or ours, or both.

The church’s push mower was another story.  Shane worked on it for about 20 minutes, and FINALLY got it going.  Yay!  That would certainly help, and it would mean we could just bring one other push mower.  Unfortunately, right now our family has no way to haul any mowers, so Shane said they’d come back by the house around 12:30 (once they got their own rider working), pick up our equipment, and head back to the church to mow.

Now, I generally don’t mow, and I’ve never used a rider.  I can mow with a push mower and I can weed-eat, but I’m generally not even strong enough to get them started.  Mowing is why we have kids.  For about the past 12 or 13 years, the kids have handled all the mowing, and Scott has overseen all the never-ending mower repairs.  I was planning for Andrew to ride back to the church with Shane, but – even though the neighbor on the uphill side had graciously mowed the right-hand side all the way to the parking lot (WHAT a blessing!) – when I realized that there would still be a heckuva lot of grass to mow and only Shane and Andrew to do it.  Normally, Andrew being gone forever wouldn’t be a problem, but that evening it would, because Andrew would need to shower, eat, and get to choir practice by 7 PM.

Georgie called and we talked about whether we two ladies were going to stay home or go help the menfolk.  We decided we’d both go.  Little did I know what that decision would involve!

Meanwhile, I had sent Andrew out to get our rider, push mower, weedeater, and gas cans prepped and moved down near the street, to facilitate loading when Shane and Georgie arrived.  I saw him out there riding the rider down the driveway, but a few minutes later, he came into the office, very, very frustrated.  It seems that a few seconds after I saw him, the belt came off (for at least the fourth time – sigh).  Last year he had to pay $100 to get it back on ($50 for them to pick up and deliver and $50 for the actual repair).  He informed me in no uncertain terms that he would NOT push the church, and he would NOT push our yard, which also happens to need mowing.  He called Scott, who said we’d talk when he got home.  Well, that’s fine, but it didn’t help with our afternoon church mowing project.  Andrew called Shane and explained the problem.  Shane said he’d either get his running or ours running.  (Shane works as a mechanic for the highway department and he can fix just about anything.)

So, we all trundled back up to the church with these resources:

~ Shane’s rider

~ Shane’s self propelled (ahhh!!!) push mower

~ Shane’s gas, of both kinds

~ our push mower

~ our weedeater

Georgie set off riding, I used Shane’s push mower (it’s kind of like a dog pulling a leash; quite fun), he used our push mower, and Andrew weed-eated.  Thankfully, the weather was cool, and the clouds came and went, so we weren’t miserable, but even with that enormous right-hand section pre-mowed, it was definitely a massive amount of turf.  We all four worked steadily for three hours and then decided to call it quits.  One very high section had not yet been mowed this season, and we went over it two and-a-half times.  It’s still not all shaved down, but it’s a lot better than it was, and it’s not noticeable unless you take a hike to go look at it.

We were all pretty bushed by the time we loaded up and headed out.

Then that evening, Pastor Guy called Scott.  Knowing that the church’s rider was shot, he and his wife had decided to just hire their own yard done this year, and bring their own rider up and leave it at the church.  We knew that that was the plan, but that hadn’t yet happened, which is why Shane brought his rider for use that day.

But Pastor Guy told us that he HAD brought his rider to the church.  Around noon.  (In between the time we left after cleaning at 10:30 AM and returned to mow at 1:00 PM.)  Obviously the shed was full with the church’s dead rider, so he couldn’t put his in there, so he had left it IN THE CHURCH, over behind the curtain that sections off and hides the tiled “dining” area from the carpeted sanctuary.  It had, of course, never occurred to any of us to go look behind the curtain for an extra riding mower, and Pastor Guy had not called Scott during the day to tell him, because he didn’t want to disturb Scott at work, and he had understood that our group was going to mow on either Friday or Saturday, which had been the plan.

We had a good laugh out of that, and I got a great work-out with all that push mowing.  But I don’t want to do it again any time soon.

Moral of Story:  Communication is important, and. . . you never know what might be lurking behind a curtain at church!

What a cleaning crew!

Tonight our church hosted a Bingo Blast.  This means that we invited anyone who wanted to come, to spend up to two hours. . .

eating hot dogs, chips, soda, and cookies

letting their kids play a variety of games, including a “jump” house

playing bingo for a variety of prizes, including gift cards for gas, groceries, and restaurants, hotel stays, gift bags, and cash

hearing the gospel explained

all for free!

Earlier in the week, Pastor Barb was trying to guess how many people would come, so we’d know how many hot dogs to buy, how many gifts to provide, etc.  We took a stab and guessed there’d be about 100 people, including probably some 30-40 of our own.  Our Life Group was working the second shift, and I was pleasantly surprised when I pulled up and there were a LOT of cars in the parking lot.  There were about 35 church folks involved, but at one point, Pastor Barb counted 92 non-LCC people, too!

I think the event was a great success on getting people to come.  Now we are hoping some of them will come back on Sunday morning.

There were two Life Groups assigned to the clean-up (9:00 – 10:00 PM), and one of those groups was ours.  However, our group also happened to be responsible to do the weekly church cleaning tomorrow, so we had decided that rather than coming back on Saturday morning, we’d just stay and do it all Friday night.  Thankfully, another group stayed to help us, and in about an hour, we got the whole Bingo Blast cleaned up (and it was quite a mess), AND all the regular church cleaning done.  WOW!

I was amazed at how hard and fast everyone worked, and it was great to finish the job tonight.


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