Sunday, August 31, 2008

Congrats to Josh!

Next Friday night, Josh will be officially liscensed as a minister of the Church of God. This is one of the first steps towards ordination. It also means that he will be able to perform ceremonies like marriage, which he has already been approached about by former youth group members. He has worked hard to get here. He has had to write multiple papers on a whole range of topics. He has been interviewed by a board of state elders...all while going to school, transitioning to a new full-time youth pastor's position and being a daddy. We are very proud of him for all he has accomplished so far and for all that he has yet to accomplish in the future.

I wanted to share with you a video. The performers are The Skit Guys whom we have seen at a couple of youth conventions. They are really hilarious. This skit was directed towards youth pastors and youth workers. In this particular sketch they are showing many of the different characters who come to sit in a chair in the youth pastors office to discuss certain things. I laughed so hard because I know that Josh can relate to all of this stuff. The Skit Guys do a good job of bringing humor to some of those situations.

Once, a member of Josh's youth group, when speaking about youth ministry, said to him, "I don't know how you do it...how you deal with so much crap." And Josh replied gently, "Well, there's crap I deal with because it's just crap....and then there's crap that I deal with because people love you....and that's okay."

(Remember to pause the music player at the bottom before playing the video)

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

It's Football Time In Tennessee!!

T - E - Double N - E - Double S - Double E - Tennesee!


V - O - L - S!

V-O-L-S!

GO VOLS GO!

IT'S GAME DAY!! Well, Almost. Tennessee plays their season opener against UCLA Monday (Labor Day). I am really excited for football to start again although it's not quite the same as when we were in Knoxville. There you can feel football fever brewing by about mid-summer. The town quickly turns back into a sea of orange. There's always orange in Knoxville. But in the August it's everywhere.

Here, we havn't seen very much anticipation of TN football. Maybe these guys will get into it here pretty soon. The town does however have a lot of school spirit for the high school football team here in town. Their mascot is a Greene Devil. Even the ELEMENTARY school kids were wearing their green colors to school. There was some green hair and green face paint at the elementary school too in anticipation of the first game.

I know the first UT game is away, but I wish I could be there in Knoxville on Monday to be part of the hooplah anyway. I tried to get Jackson and Leah into the spirit by singing Rocky Top with them, complete with the "salute and wooooo!" thing. I got a video to share with you guys. Leah was definitely not interested but Jackson was starting to get into the spirit. :)

video

Oh and FYI, Just after we got this video, Leah hit my hand with a shaker and knocked my digital camera from my grip. I know you're laughing at me. It's not funny. I've had all kinds of this little crappy stuff happening to me over the last week or two. Anyway, It hit the ground pretty hard and broke into several pieces. I tried to put it back together. I was able to retrieve my video but the camera will not focus AT ALL now. I'll see if Josh can fix it. He's pretty good at putting stuff back together but cameras can be tricky. I would fully expect for this to be a pictureless blog for awhile. I'm pretty bummed about that.

Let's Go UT!

Monday, August 25, 2008

Red - The Color of Embarassment

I was sitting there waiting for the church service to start yesterday morning. All three of my kids sitting next to me along with Emma's friend. This was to be promotion Sunday (or so I thought) which is when all the kids who are ready to graduate to the next age group get their certificates and officially move on up. Leah and Emma were both due for promotion. So I had Leah in the service. This was a first since she was a newborn. Of course she didn't understand the whole "sit still and be quiet" thing. She was fighting me, trying to get down and talking very loudly all the while. Her daddy was sitting up on stage and stood up to open the service with prayer. I thought that maybe I could distract her by bringing daddy to her attention so I said, "look! theres daddy!" Big mistake. She noticed him and then started waving and saying, "Hi Daddy!" at the top of her lungs. Of course the congregation all laughed. I am sitting there smiling graciously but mumbling under my breath, through gritted teeth "Leah if you don't hush..."

Well it wasn't long before Leah's restlessness caught on and Jackson chimed in. Sensing the impending disaster I got up and slipped out of the sanctuary with Jackson and Leah as quietly as possible....well, it was anything but quiet. I left Emma and her friend there, praying that they would continue to be well behaved in my absence. I tried not to make much eye contact on my way out but I could sense the looks of pity and the kind smiles from people as if to say "bless your little heart."

Out in the foyer. I tried to entertain Jackson and Leah. If you know my kids at all you know that they have an unbeleivable amount of energy...to put it nicely. But this day they were especially hyper. I was trying to stay close enough to the sanctuary so that I would know when they were doing the promotions but far enough away that my children's laughter and screams would not travel through the walls into the sanctuary.

Then it happened. To my horror, as if in slow motion, Jackson ran away from me towards the sanctuary doors just as the usher opened them to let someone in. He ran straight up the center aisle and onto the stage. The service stopped as Jackson stopped at his Daddy's feet. Daddy was preparing for the pastoral prayer which as most of you know can be a very serious part of the service. He looked up and said cheerfully, "Hi Daddy. Whatcha doin'?" Again Laughter. Daddy said "well, trying to have church here buddy" I shoved Leah into the hands of an usher and tried to quickly muster up the courage to go in and retrieve my little "gift from God". I am sure that my face had never been such a deep shade of red as I walked down the center aisle. Thankfully, Jackson saw me and started to run back to me. I was grateful that I did not have to go all the way up front. As I grabbed his hand and tried to walk quickly out, I heard Josh say, "she has her hands full when I am up here". Once again laughter. I worked up a half-hearted laugh but was thinking to myself this is sooo not funny.

To top it all off, I soon learned that they were only doing the promotions for the kids who would be gone next week. The official promotion Sunday was next week. A feeling of dread came over me as I thought to myself, you mean I have to do this again next week?

Pray for me. :)

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Class of ???

This was hilarious! Go to yearbookyourself.com to create yearbook photos of yourself and see what you might have looked like back in the day. I think my favorites are 1984 and 1994... Not too far from the real thing....lol. My real class is 1996 although I never had that hair-do. I also think that I could have donned the 60's glasses and still looked pretty good. :) Too funny! Check out the afro :D

1960
1962
1964
1966
1968
1970
1978
1982
1984
1994
1996

On a more serious note, please remember Greg and Nicol Sponberg in your prayers today. They just laid their baby boy, Luke to rest this morning. For more on their story you can read Greg's blog, Light Your World. The July 29th post will give you a quick glimpse at the earth shattering turn their life has taken recently. I am deeply encouraged by the way that they hold on to the hope of Jesus in the face of such a tragedy.

More on The Shack

In the aftermath of reading The Shack, I have participated in discussion forums on the book, read reviews and even seen some YouTube video responses. I was a little shocked to see so much contreversy and negativity surrounding it, especially after enjoying it so much.

I have to tell you that in response I find a couple of things very interesting. One is that the author, William P. Young, seems to me to think a lot like Jesus in that he has what seem to be radical ideas that are very different from what most "religious" people believe to be true. He also speaks in parables like Jesus. Let me emphasize again that The Shack is a fictional Novel. A beautiful metaphor.

I am remembering how when Jesus taught with parables or metaphors he always had some real literal thinkers to deal with. Boneheads who just didn't get it because they were too busy taking what Jesus said literally to see the beauty in His teachings.

Many have called William P. Young a heretic for the things that he says in the book. If you read the book for what it is, I think that you will find very little if any fault in it. The author is well schooled in theology. I think that his ideas fall very close to that of Jesus. In fact, I think that people referring to William P. Young as a heretic is eerily reminiscent of the way that the Pharisees treated Jesus for his radical ideas.

Now, I am definitely not saying that William P. Young is on the same level as Jesus. Nor am I saying that The Shack holds the same weight as scripture. I think that you know that already but I had to say it for any of you literal thinkers out there.....boneheads! :)

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

The Shack

I was going to paint Emma's room this week. I haven't started yet. It seems that a more important engagement has come up.

Last week, I read a blog post by Jenny Simmons (of Addison Road). Jenny is a lover of books and frequently will write about her favorite reads. She had written that day about a book called The Shack by William P. Young. I didn't think much of it at the time, but when Josh's mom was here this past weekend, she mentioned that she too had just read it. Then Sunday morning, during sunday school, people were buzzing about the same book. All who spoke of it could not say enough about it's profound message or, should I say, messagES. Even though this book has been in print for I think about a year now, this was my time to read it. I felt as though there was a ship about to leave port and I was compelled to run and get on quick!

Sunday evening I made a trip to Walmart for a few things and picked up the book while I was there. I didn't start the book until Monday evening. From what I heard, I knew that I would barely be able to put the book down once I started it. I wanted to make sure I had the time and attention to devote to it. Typically, I am not a big reader. My mind wanders too easily. There are many half read books on my book shelf. I usually start a book only to get frustrated with my distractions and give up. Not the case with this book. I devoured it. Also, I don't think that it was any coincidence that Josh's parents came to get my two youngest children Monday night, with little notice, for a 2 day visit. I beleive that God gave me the opportunity to have some alone time as I read this book so that I could go to "the shack" too. Does that sound corny?....It won't after you read this book.

I have struggled with what to say about this book. I wanted to say something that would draw people in. I wanted to say something that would do the book justice. I wanted to say something that would not give away the magic of the story. I have come to the conclusion that I just can't. So, take my advice. Go buy this book. It's only ten bucks at Wal-mart. Read it for yourself. I'm telling you, you will be so glad that you did.

This book reads like a true story. It's not. It is fictional. But, I beleive it to be filled with truth still. Don't think of this as me endorsing a book, but rather, me endorsing a rich experience with the loving God.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

The Last Bits of Summer

I always look forward to a new season.
A change of pace. A change of temperatures.
A renewal. A fresh start. Change is good.

That said, I am sad to see summer coming to a close. We have had so much fun this summer spending time at the pool with family and new friends.

Saturday we got to spend, what I know, will be one of this year's last lazy summer days with Josh's parents. They came up for the day. It was a beautiful day - not too hot. We went to the pool, barbequed burgers and dogs, made home-made ice cream and tried to just relax.

Here are some pictures from our day...

Emma with her Mimi and Papa


Little Fish



A happy Jackson


Brrrr...Jackson's cold


Say Cheese!


Leah has some fun with dad


Then she does some snorkeling...hilarious!



Cutie Patootie!


Also, here's a funny story for you. While Josh's parents were here, Josh and his dad worked on fixing the upstairs toilet which we have not been able to get to flush properly since we moved in. So basically, we have been living with just one bathroom.

We thought the vent might be clogged. Josh's parents brought our ladders, which were being stored at their house so that Josh could check the vent. That was not the problem.

So they thought maybe it needed a new wax seal. After a trip to Lowe's, Josh checked the wax seal. That was not the problem.

Finally Josh took the toilet out in the front yard. He turned it upside down and ran some water through it. Do you know what came out of there??.... a light bulb. A perfectly intact light bulb. I wonder if it still worked...we didn't try.

I have no idea how it got there but I have a feeling that it has something to do with a little boy we all know and love.
:)

Friday, August 15, 2008

Actually...

We were eating lunch earlier this week. I asked Leah if she wanted some more. She said, "Actually, I'm done." I had never heard her say "actually" before and it was pretty much hilarious. It took all she had to spit the word out. I grabbed the camera and got her to say it a couple more times on video so I could share it. Enjoy!
video

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Everybody Dance Now

Emma has started to take dance classes this school year also. Last night she had her second class. Our church secretary, Jamie, owns a dance studio here in town. Emma will be learning Ballet, Tap, Jazz and Acrobatics in her class. She really looks forward to it because one of the girls in Josh's youth group, Hannah, is an assistant teacher in her class. She loooves Hannah!

I don't think that I realized how expensive dance would be when we got into it. There are so many shoes and outfits to buy on top of the tuition plus they take a couple of trips for competitions. Let's just say I'm glad that I didn't enroll Leah as well...phew! Since we are on a one income budget right now it's going to be tight, but Jamie does everything that she can to make it affordable. We will also be having lots of fundraisers to raise money for the trips and stuff. Don't be surprised if we come to your door selling something or invite you to a car wash. :)

I think it's going to be worth it though. Emma will have a lot of fun with this. They are probably going to be in a Christmas parade in December. Of course, their recital will be at the end of the year in April or May. I'll keep you posted on her performances.

Here are some pictures of her last night. She really looked like a cute little dancer in her leotard with her hair in a bun.

Look at the look on the face of the girl sitting next to her. I think she's trying to figure out why Emma's chewing on her hands....I was too. :)



Stretching...



Here, I caught her shaking her hips when she thought no one was watching. I think she liked watching her skirt swish back and forth...yup she's all girl.



The girl in the yellow shirt in this picture is Hannah...



Practicing her cartwheels. Look at those straight legs!

Monday, August 11, 2008

First Day of the First Grade

Here are some more pictures of Emma in first grade.

This one is of Emma and Mrs. Jones, her teacher.



Here she is at her spot at the table.



Here she is at the whimsical reading area.



Again at her spot. She really isn't the only girl at her table but the others had not yet arrived.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

New Beginnings...

Emma had her first grade orientation today. We woke up around seven. She picked out an outfit from her new school clothes wardrobe. She was very excited. But, I knew that in the back of her mind she was nervous about starting a new school.

We walked into the gymnasium and she sat in the first grade line to wait for directions. She did not say a word to anyone, just stared straight ahead. I was wondering what was going through that little head of hers as I stood along the wall watching.

Someone directed the first graders to go to the library to meet and get further instructions from their teachers. When we got in there they told the children that they could either sit on the carpet or sit with their parents in the chairs. She clutched my arm and gave me a "you better not leave my side" look. I couldn't help but to thank God for that. I know that a day will come all too soon when she will want to go sit on the carpet with her friends and pretend that her mother doesn't exist. I'll bask in moments like this while I can.

We had received a post card that told us her teacher's name was Mrs. Jones. I asked her when we sat down, "Which one of those three teachers up there do you think is Mrs. Jones?" She pointed to a young, pretty woman who had a very calming personality about her. I took that to mean, "I hope that's her." Sure enough, she was right. I think that she was a little more put to ease at that point.

After some boring talk about policies and procedures we got to go and see her classroom. It was very cute. Of course there were tables with their little names already posted at their places. There was a cute little reading area with a canopy of tulle making it very princessy (I'm sure the boys weren't quite as excited about that as she was.)

We got to talk to her teacher for a moment. I had been a little concerned about the fact that Emma had been reading on a second grade level in kindergarten (I know that sounds boastful but, what can I say, my offspring are geniuses!). That, coupled with the fact that she was switching to a smaller town school system, I was worried about her getting bored and not being challenged enough. But, Mrs. Jones assured me that they would be testing everyone right off the bat. She said that she, along with all of the other first grade teachers, are very good to make sure everyone is placed in a group where they will be challenged accordingly. So, mom too, was put to ease.

All in all I would say that we had a pleasant first day experience. She will go back on Monday for the official first full day of school. Here are some pictures of her in her cute outfit, ready to go. I hope to post some more on Monday of her with her teacher and her classroom.