February 26, 2010

The One that's Overly Complicated

Boy, oh boy.
I made that decision way more difficult than it needed to be.
But then again. That's what I do.
Nothing new.

At the beginning of this week I had all but decided to not accept a sub job for today.
You see, this evening we will taking 7 of our teens to another FM church 2 hours away.
To join other youth groups for World Vision's 30 Hour Famine.
The fast actually begins on our own at 12:30pm today.
But starting at 7pm tonight we will come together for times of worship.
Of awareness.
Of prayer.
Of service.
Of fun.
Of new friends.
All in the name of our Lord who is calling us to give up food for 30 hours and raise money that those who have nothing will never hunger or thirst again.
I love that this experience is spiritual and physical.
Experiencing for a mere day what countless children deal with hourly.
Right here in our own cities.
And around the world.
One child dies every 7 seconds from preventable cause such as poverty, disease and hunger.
The money we raise from our sponsors for 30 Hour Famine will go to take care of those children all for the sake of THE Cause of Christ.
Be praying for us won't you?
And if you wish to donate $1 or $100 dollars please contact me.

So back to the hard decision part.
I wasn't going to work today.
Especially after I worked Tuesday Wednesday and Thursday this week.
Which is more than I anticipated when I signed up for this gig.
But you know what, these past two weeks I've really started to enjoy teaching.
I don't know if it's the specific students I've worked with,
or my increased competance and confidence,
or both.
But I'm really getting into this school thing.
And it definitely doesn't hurt to have a third grader raise her hand and say,
"I have an observation. You are really really beautiful."
Or the boy at the end of the class say, "You are the most gorgeous person on the face of the planet."
Or the three 4th grade girls burst out giggling with, "You are really pretty."
Let alone the, "You're the best sub we've ever had!"
Seriously, people, talk about self-esteem boost.

All that to say, when I saw a job pop up for vocal music, I knew I had to take it.
I was excited.
Just ask Kevin or Britt.
But then it occurred to me.
(Hey! I finally spelled "occurred" correctly. I always leave out an "r." Go me.)
It was 9:30pm the night before the Famine.
I needed to go grocery shopping.
Pack our stuff.
Prepare paperwork and lessons for the weekend.
Bake bread and brownies for the breaking of the fast potluck.
And taking the sub job would also mean:
Working Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday.
Friday night.
All day Saturday.
And all day Sunday.
Seeing as how my job is church and youth group.
(And believe it or not, that stuff takes lots of work and responsibility.)

Hmm. I was at a crossroads.
I had already accepted the job.
And even contacted the teacher to ask a couple questions.
But should I burn myself out like that?
Even if I really wanted that job, should I risk stress and headache?
After taking too much time to think this through, I opted to turn down the job.
I felt like I had just tarnished my record.
(Granted, no one but me and maybe the payroll guy sees my record, but that's beside the point.)

In the end, I believe I made the wise decision.
A happy, relaxed Melanie is worth much more than $80 I do believe.
And I'm pretty darn sure my husband would agree.

February 24, 2010

The One where She Brags on Google

Somehow I have time before working today to get a post up.
Miracle of miracles.

But something that works for me is my friend, the Google Calendar.
This little tool from my favorite internet powerhouse is a.m.a.zing.
You can format it to look how you want it--colors as well as views.
You can check out your schedule on the monthly view, the weekly view or the daily view.
You can add the new Google calendar widget to your Google Chrome web browser.
(The sweetest browser out there. So clean. So fast. So simple.)
That way, with just one click your calendar pops open.
You can have multiple calendars within your calendar.
For instance, I have a personal calender labeled in pink.
A birthday calender in green.
Kevin's calendar in blue.
Youth group calendar in orange.

And then there are many preset calendars you can choose to add to your calendar.
Such as National Holidays.
Which show up in red.

And on top of all of that, you can choose to allow other Google calendar users to have access to one or all of your calendar events.
Kevin and I have shared calendars.
So when he logs into his calendar he sees his event and mine.
And vice versa.
And we have chosen to give editing "permission" to one another.
So I can add or subtract or change Kevin's events.
And vice versa. But that never happens. :)

With every event you select date, time, repetitions, and alerts.
You can have an email alert sent to you an hour or two days before an event.
A great way to not forget your wife's birthday.
And you can schedule events years in advance or check back for past year's listing.
So great.

So go.
And sign up for a Google account.
Google Chrome.
Google Calendar.
And don't forget Gmail (almost 7500 megabytes of storage. And great organization tools.)

Love Google, and it will love you back.

So what works for you?
Check out Kristen's blog for more great tips!
And now it's off to elementary computer class.

February 22, 2010

The One with the Flu. Again.

Another day of brutal honesty with MckMama is upon us.
Here are a few things I definitely did not do this weekend:

::come down with my fourth or fifth bout of the flu on Saturday.
::ask my husband to go through his clothes and get rid of things for the rummage sale...and then argue with him about what stays and what goes.
::sleep in until 8:15 today when the snow day alert came through.
::bake chocolate chip cookies (and eat a few) and comment on how delicious the peanut butter cookies were in front of my husband who gave up desserts for Lent. [oops.]
::play Soul Caliber on Game Cube with my husband. And proudly whoop his tush once or twice.
::find three bags of clothes to donate. (I definitely don't have too many clothes.)
::whip through book three of the Redemption series only to find out I hadn't yet requested book four from the library. NOOooooooooooooo!

In more specific news:

Today is another snow day.
I am thankful.
Yesterday and the day before I was down with the flu.
What is that? 4 or 5 times this season?
What does a girl have to do to get a break?
And no, I didn't get my flu shot this year, but there's a good reason for that.
The past 3 years that I have gotten the flu shot, I still came down with another strain of the flu at least 2 or 3 times.
Not worth it, I say.
And I don't know which is worse--
being down and out and absolutely deathly ill with the flu for 2+days and not getting the flu any more that season.
OR being down and out with the flu for 24 hours and getting the same flu 4 more times that season.

But seriously.
This thing is so predictable for me.
Here's how it goes down. Every. Time.
Out of nowhere the left side of my throat starts hurting.
Mostly when I swallow.
I comment on it and say I think this means I'm getting sick.
Within 20 minutes the throat is hurting worse and whether or not I'm swallowing.
Then come the aches.
Crazy body pains that affect every muscle, every joint, every tendon.
Sometimes I think it's because I just went running that morning, but then I realize that my rib cage never hurts after running.
Then I'm chilling.
And totally fatigued.
And a headache comes on.
And then there's the ear pain.

All of this occurs within about an hour's time.
It comes hard and fast and out of nowhere every. single. time.
Oh, wait.
I think I said that already.

But I think I'm back to my regular self together.
And luckily there was not toilet seat hugging involved.
For that I am thankful.
I wasn't able to make it to church yesterday though.
Which is a really difficult decision to make.
Because I have so many responsibilities.
But I didn't want to make myself more sick.
Or pass on this bug to anyone else in the church who happens to be susceptible.

My husband did a great job getting everything done I would have needed to do during, after, and before the church service.
Thanks, Babe.
And he snuggled me whenever I wanted him to.
And went to bed at 9:40 with me.
And watched far too many episodes of LOST with me.
He's great.

So this morning, it was a blessing to hear that all the schools are closed.
Because if I had gotten a call to substitute I would have had a hard time deciding whether or not I should go in.
Was I well enough?
Would the day be too much for me?
Would I pass on the sickness to others?

But I must say, it's highly possible that the reason I got hit again with this influenza thing is all thanks to the days I've spent with snot nosed elementary school students.

But I love them anyways.


In other news, Butterscotch and I are now best friends.
He meows for me.
Snuggles with me for hours.
Gets hair all over me.
Walks on my heals through the house in the morning.
Waits outside the bedroom door for me to wake up.
Comes straight for me when he opens the office door with his little paw.
He's great.

And I call him Baby.
Even though he's more of an old man.
He's 13 and I'm pretty sure his back legs are riddled with arthritis.
Poor guy.
He struggles to stand up.
And jumping onto the chair with me is quite a feat.
It's sad to watch, but I am glad I don't have to worry about him being motivated enough (or even capable) of jumping onto my tables or counters.
He's totally low maintenance.
With the exception of the shedding.
Geez louise.
I can't count how many lint roller sheets I've gone through.
But I like having him around.
Should be interesting to see what the end of this month will bring.
Will his owner want him back for sure or will she have just gotten into a nice routine without him?
Not sure.
But we'll take it as it comes.

February 19, 2010

The One with the Wondering Week

It's been a bit of a busy week.
And I can't help by think, "How do they do it?"
At the risk of sounding totally naive and unexperienced, I give you the following thought process.
How does a woman care and love for her husband?
Work all day long?
Keep the house clean?
Make dinner? And lunches? And breakfasts? And plan for the next day's meals?
Participate in church commitments?
Disciple and minister to those in the church?
Bring in the mail? Take out the trash?
And on top of all of that raise many children?

And still find time to spend alone with God?
With husband?
Time to relax with a book? or with a favorite tv show?
Keep up on scrapbooking? crafting? blogging?
And get a good night's rest? so as to get up and do it all again tomorrow?
With a joyful spirit?


I think there's one thing I've learned these last few days.
I'm not cut out to be SuperWoman.
When we have children, I want time to focus on them.
And time alone with my love and my God.
And not detract from those precious moments with thoughts of grocery lists, meal plans, conflict management, and more.

I subbed three days this week.
Wednesday was computer education for K-6th.
Thursday morning was 4th grade--three math lessons (rotating classrooms).
Afternoon was 5th grade.
And I got a call at 5pm Thursday night for today's job.
K-4 Art today.
I was looking forward to it.
I have found I really enjoy the days when I teach one subject to multiple different classrooms.
At the elementary age.
It's nice.
Especially when you see students you subbed for last week and they are excited to see you.
That's always a nice feeling.
Today was totally unexpected, though.
The teacher didn't know she was getting a sub.
She was at the school today but everyone was crazy busy working with the all-day, all-school Olympics.
So I was kind of the go-to girl for whatever anyone needed.
I helped 2nd graders get into costume for their Swedish portion of the "Parade of the Countries."
I videotaped the Olympic sporting events.
I was in charge of the kindergarten art class for an hour.
Lots of coloring and Little Bear.
And tattling.
And talking.
And potty breaks.
And name calling.

Although I must admit, I enjoy having power over a group of 30 students with a simple rhythmic clap. *clap *clap *clapclapclap (echo.)
High schoolers don't respond well to this form of attention getting.

All in all it was a great day and I had many teachers ask for my sub job call number.
I think I made a good impression and in turn I was quite impressed with the caliber of teachers.
They were all great to work with and I could see their love for the students.
I've learned a pet peeve of mine is adults who have completely negative opinions of children.
No matter what the circumstances, the kids can do no right.
They warn you of the "bad" classes.
Wish you a sarcastic "good luck."
I mean, seriously, here people.
Your life would be so much less stressful if you gave each student new mercies each day.

Hmm, familiar concept, anyone?

After stopping by Aldi for a few groceries (in hopes that I don't have to do anything Saturday), I came home to prepare for dinner.
Kevin's Mom, Dad, and Bro were joining us for a belated celebration gift of Dad's birthday.
I made a BBQ pork roast with potatoes and carrots.
A side salad.
And biscuits.
And a Streusal Apple Pie for dessert.

We had a great time spending the evening with them.
And I'm so thankful to have a spare bedroom to offer them.

In fact, I think my own bed is calling my name.
Shouting even.

February 15, 2010

The One with my First and Forever Valentine

I'm having trouble remembering what I intended to write here.
Because of Bianca.

Let me see.
Ironically enough, we now have a cat.
Specifically, we're cat-sitting.
For something like a month.
When we were asked to watch this 13 year old cat named Butterscotch, we thought it was the perfect compromise.
I had wanted a "trial kitty."
But you can't exactly rent a cat for a few days to see if you'll like it.
The return policy it a bit stickier than that of Walmart.
So having an old, trained, fixed cat who regularly deals with a toddler sounded like a great idea.
And so far, it's been just fine.
Butterscotch is too old and unmotivated and still just plain nervous to pursue Bianca in her cage on Kevin's desk.
(Not that this strange combination of animals will be a problem much longer though.

Butterscotch is an interesting cat.
I think he's just scared to death at his change in owners for the time being.
He's lived with Amber for the last 13 years.
And we're just different.
He's been hiding.
Under the couch.
Behind the piano.
In the recliner.
Behind the entertainment center.
He meows like no cat I've ever heard.
It's loud.
And almost "moo" like. Or maybe "maaaaaahhhw."
But mostly just loud.
And he's hissed at me twice.
Not Kevin.
No, Kevin has super human relationships with cats.
All cats love him.
I cannot say the same.

I didn't do anything wrong.
I just poked my head around the chair to say hello.
But then a second later he meowed at me again.
And let me pet him.
So I think he was just startled.
Yeah, we'll go with that.

This morning was a vast improvement in Butterscotch's life at our house.
At 5:30 when our alarm when off, we hear "Maaaaaahhhw."
Over and over again.
Butterscotch (or Buttscotch. or Scotch. or Butterball. or BS. Or.....) was waiting in the hallway to say good morning.
That was really nice.
He's been hiding again, but it's one step at a time, right?

Know what else was great about this morning?
The Valentine I found waiting for me on my desk.
You may remember my mentioning that our "celebration" of Valentine's Day was going to be casual. and spread out.
We had a deep dish pizza date on Thursday.
Watched a lot of LOST Friday.

Then Friday night the 3 Bible quizzers were here for the night.
I went to be at 9:40pm.
Because we had to be up at 5. leaving at 6.
To drive 190 miles to the quiz.
And spend 6 hours there.
And then drive 190 miles back.
I wanted to be rested.
But alas, my normally easily to sleep body would NOT shut down.
I couldn't go to sleep until well past midnight.
NOT cool.
In fact, all day Saturday I felt more exhausted and my eyes burning worse than I ever remember.
Not to mention I was having terrible contact problems...feeling like there was an irritant in my left eye all day.

When we got back home, I baked a cake for the two teens with birthdays.
And Kevin picked up Butterscotch.
And then we chilled.
I slept well that night.

Sunday morning, Kevin said "Happy Valentine's Day" right away.
And had told me he'd be saving the more special Valentine for Monday.
Since Sunday is rather taken up with Church.
And church potluck.
And prepping for youth group.
And youth group.
I was fine with that.
He also said it was nothing too big. nothing too special.
And I asked, "Does it come from the heart?"
And he said, "Yes."
And I said, "That's all I want."

Which leads me to this morning's perfect Valentine.
The most beautiful letter I've ever read.
(And he's sent me some amazing notes before!)
Written just for me.
From my Lover.
It's entitled "Truth."
Its words are filled with promises I can hold on to.
Those aspects of our relationship that are forever reliable.

A few excerpts, shared with permission.

I love you. I love you. I love you.

It bears repeating, because it's what I feel every morning when I wake up next to you. Through all our trials from within and without, I fall more in love with you every day. Your silliness, organization, and motivation continually endear yourself to me...

You are my perfect woman...

But here is the best part of the Truth. I will never leave. I will always be here. I will always love you. I will always provide and care you for...

You are my beloved.

Yes. I am well aware of what an incredible husband God gave me.
Though I'm just beginning to learn how incredible.
How breathtaking.
How faithful.
How forgiving.

I love you.

The One with Mouse Admissions

The whole point of MckMama's "not me" Monday is to confess.
Admit to those things we'd rather not have people find out.
Proclaim to all who will listen the embarrassing quirks of our seemingly perfect lives.

This week I have just one moment.
Well, that's not true.
I'm sure I have about a million.
But this admission must not be mixed with others.
And before you read on, you must promise not to laugh.
Or make fun of me.

Pinky swear?
I'm serious here, people.

There are tears pouring from my eyeballs.
But these tears definitely do not indicate a breaking heart as I witness the end of our little Bianca's life.
Nope, I'm certainly not one to cry over rodents.
Let alone a mouse I promised to despise.
Not me!
I am not crazy good friends with this little mouse.
Nor am I seriously broken up since discovering what appears to have been a stroke causing her impending death.
I realize that mice only live about 2 years.
And that's about now.
But I wasn't hoping this day wouldn't have to come.
Or that I wouldn't be the one to figure it out.

Now, won't you excuse me as I tend to my hospice patient?

February 12, 2010

The One with Speculations

There is such a thing as too much cheese on a pizza.
When it gags you.
Not cool.

There is such a thing as eating too many M&Ms.
I really never thought this could be true.
But last night I had a tummy ache.
For the first time in ages.
And I knew it was because of the M&M overload.

There is not such a thing as too much love.
It comes when I think I've experienced the ultimate.
Which is pretty much every day.
My husband's love for me is incomprehensible.
And somehow ever growing.
As is mine for him.
How lucky are we?

There is not such a thing as too many little "I love you" tokens.
On Valentine's Weekend.
The little things rock.
Pizza Date.
And it's only Friday.

There may be such a thing as spending too much time reworking a blog header.
I may have reached said limit.
This morning.
While waiting for a sub job that never came.
I'm ok with that, by the way.
Spending at least an hour cropping.
sliding left and right.
Geez, louise.
I guess it's a teeny tiny taste of what photographers do.
And I'm so crazy proud of the result.
Even if it's not that impressive.
I love it.
For now.
Maybe in a month, I'll think it's lame.
But today. I'm satisfied.

There may be such a thing as too much t.v.
Actually I'm pretty sure there is.
But once you start watching an addictive series.
On dvd.

And I'm strangely ok with that.

February 10, 2010

The One where I'm LOST

Things I have done in the last few days.
Ate an entire 12oz bag of M&M's. Mostly on the drive to and from Columbus.
Slept in on Monday.
Worked half a day Tuesday.
In a second grade co-taught classroom.
Super easy. Super fun.
Had every girl complimenting me the first 10 minutes of class.
"I like your hair.
I like your earrings.
I like your shirt.
I like your jacket.
I like your necklace."
It's funny how wonderful 8 year olds can make you feel about yourself.
After driving 80 miles on ice, still managed to spin 360 degrees.
On our road.
On the way to class.
It was my first spin out.
And super scary.
But miraculously, my bumper ended up in a side street and I just pulled right out.
Blood pressure issues are looming.
Starting watching LOST: the complete first season.
I'm was LOST virgin. And I think I'm already addicted.
Celebrated yesterday's first snow day of the season in true 10 year old style.
Played Go to the Head of the Class with my husband.
It was the 50th Anniversary edition.
And it came out in 1985.
I knew I would lose.
And I did.
Big time.
Still fun though.
Just need to brush up on history.
and literature.
and math.
and art.

And I drank hot cocoa.
And ate homemade pizza.
And watched more LOST.

The end.

February 9, 2010

The One with Dare2Share

Now I know what a whirlwind feels like.
Adrenaline rushing.
Sleep depriving.
Totally unforgettable.*

*If you'd rather get the simple photo recollection, skip to the end of this enormous post.

Of what am I speaking?
Columbus, OH.
5,000 teens.
Crazy adults.
Heart changes.
Unforgettable worship.
Allowing oneself to become totally on fire for THE Cause.
Make disciples who make disciples.

The Holy Spirit truly went with us this past weekend.
God's presence was felt in so many ways.
First, the trip down.
Blizzards abounded but we managed to avoid them up until the last 20 miles.
Where we drove 25mph and could only hope for traction.
I was freaking out in the hours leading up to this drive.
I would have been fine if I had been a passenger.
But I was the driver.
And I had 4 kids to bring back home alive to their parents.
I think my blood pressure reached dangerous highs.
But my husband stepped up.
He took me in his arms.
He told me I could do it.
He believed in me.
And then he prayed.
My fears subsided and we made it to our luxurious hotel (courtesy of hotwire.com) right on time.

The teens had a blast hanging out pool side.
And playing guitar hero back in the rooms.
Meanwhile I braved the blizzard once again and ventured over to my sister's beautiful apartment.
I was thrilled to get to visit her.
Even if for just a short while.
I'm so proud of her.
Living on her own.
Taking care of herself. her laundry. her dishes. her home.
We had a great talk and I can't wait to visit again soon!

We loaded up our teens right on time.
Scraped off the 4 inches of snow that had accumulated on our vehicles in the last 2 hours.
And off we went, slipping and sliding to downtown Cbus.
And they ain't kidding.
This place had SIX convention units.
Each of which holds thousands of people.
It stretches at least three city blocks.
The only poorly designed portion was the lack of food options.
A volleyball invitational, a teachers' convention and Dare2Share all sharing a single food court.
We thought the 90 minutes would be way too much time.
Not so much.

But I'm getting ahead of myself.
Friday night.
We parked in this remote, semi-free lot and walked the mile-ish to the Convo Center.
Wouldn't have been a big deal.
Except it was snowing big heavy snowflakes.
The kind that pelt you in the eyeballs.
And the sidewalks had 1-5 inches of built up slush.
And none of us had boots.
People were lagging behind and complaining.
I don't blame them.
But I plowed on.
Knowing it would be over soon.
And it would be something we would never forget.
Horrible situations make for the best memories, don't you think?

We reached our mini mecca and rinsed out our soaking socks.
And within an hour you wouldn't have believed we had ever been soggy and sour.
As soon as these teens (five of whom were newbies) saw a glimpse of the stage they knew it would be awesome.

One of our girls backed out at the last minute, leaving us with an open place.
Katie and Megan invited their cousin, Tiffany.
We were so glad to have her along.
Being 19, she offered a great source of assistance as I navigated roads and corralled teenagers.
Turns out, she's also deaf.
Though she has an implant on her right ear and if you get her attention she can hear you/read your lips perfectly.
Thus, when I got a last minute call from Shawn at Dare2Share's home base in Denver, I asked about a signer.
He said there was none, but he could see what he could do about getting us seats near a speaker.
Before we knew it, we had permanent seats in the front row!
Up close and personal with the musicians, speakers, and skits.
And facing an HDTV...allowing Tiff to easily read lips.
It was perfect, and all of us were totally pumped!

The night started out with soul stirring worship lead by Starfield.
I heart that band.
They're genuine.
They know how to rock out.
And their lyrics our intense.
Some (...most...) of our youth have not had the opportunity to truly encounter the Spirit moving during song.
For many of them the "singing" during church is just, well, lame.
But with God awakening their spirits in a room packed with their peers, these teenagers experienced the true discipline of songful worship.

We were then challenged by Greg Stier, president of D2S, to face the reality of our sinful state of depravity.
This was IN. TENSE.
The drama presentation that coincided with Greg's message from Isaiah 6:6-8.
The room was riveted as we watched.
A video tape had been sent from a man named David who had died and been sentenced to eternity in hell.
He was angry. scared. furious. that his friend Naomi hadn't forced him to believe the message of the Gospel.
It's hard to express the intensity of this encounter.
The teens were totally freaked out.
In a way that brought them face to face with the gravity of our sin.
And the urgency of spreading the news of God's salvation through Christ, his Son.

At 9:00 that night, Greg took the mic once again.
He faced the audience with a choice.
To choose to accept the gift of eternal life and the responsibility to make sure every one of our friends knows the Truth that can set them free.
Atheist Penn Jillette of Penn & Teller says he has great respect for the man who passionately shared the Gospel with him.
He went on to say (paraphrased),
"How much do you have to hate someone to not proselytize them?"
To not share with one's friends the faith to which we hold?
Good question.

As you might imagine, this weekend's message was not just convicting for the teenagers, but for the adults as well.
Or at least for Kevin and I.
We can't expect our youth group to become evangelists if we ourselves are not.
Evangelism is not an option of the Christian faith.
Jesus's final words were to "Go into all the world and preach the gospel."
"Go"="while you are going."
As you live you life.
As you go to soccer practice.
Band concerts.
Piano recitals.
PTO meetings.
Bible studies.
Grocery shopping.
And make sure that everyone hears Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life that leads to God the Father.

During the moments when every head was bowed, Greg asked for hands to raise if anyone was choosing to declare that their lives would be God's from here on.
Youth leaders were to look for hands among their students.
We were overwhelmed with joy to see two of our girls have their hands timidly raised.
Then Greg took it to the next level.
He said to look up and into the eyes of your youth leaders if you were serious about this decision.
Both of our girls boldly looked us in the eyes.
There were tears.
Kevin was weeping.
Of course us girls were.
God had moved in mighty ways.
We embraced.
We prayed.
We rejoiced.
And the next day we had a heart to heart with these girls about the reality of their heart changes.
Believing they can truly take their schools for Christ.

That night was a short one.
I went to bed at 11:45.
Heard the girls laughing loudly at 12:45am.
Told them to turn out the lights and get some sleep.
Woke again at 1:45am and realized one of the girls wasn't in bed next to me as I anticipated.
She was on the floor.
Talking with a hospitalized friend.
Went back to sleep and got up at 5:15am to make time for a treadmill 3 mile run.
I figured I'd rather be energized with the run than get one extra hour of sleep.
It was a wise decision.
No headaches.
No real exhaustion.
The divine energy offered to youth leaders for such a time as this, I believe.

Day two brought even more challenges.
Cell phones for THE Cause being one of the biggest.
Everyone pulled out their phones.
And were to call/text at least three of their unsaved friends.
Asking them what they believed about God and looking for opportunities to share the Gospel with them.
We were all shaking with anxiety.
But within minutes I was proudly overhearing all of our teens explaining the message of Christ with their friends who are destined for Hell.
The calls didn't end there.
Quite a few of our students continued contacting friends for the rest of the trip.
One girl was totally bummed on the car ride home.
When, after three hours of texting, her phone battery finally died.

I was and continue to be so amazed with what God is doing in the hearts of our youth group.
This is what we've been praying for.
Hoping for.
Working for.
Real passion. Real change. Real determination. Real courage.
It won't be easy. And they know that.
Satan is already working his ways among them.
He hates how Spirit-filled these students are.
Hates knowing what an impact they can have on their friends.
But "Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm.
Let nothing move you.
Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord,
because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain."
I Cor. 15:58

After driving 80 miles on rural roads that were completely coated in ice*
not to mention another 100 miles on clear interstates,
all 12 of us hit the sack in our home.
When I crawled into bed at 2am, the house was still.
It was lovely.
And the night was, again, all too short.
But testimonies shared in front of our congregation and challenges issued to the adults made it all worth it.

*I was shaking with fear.
I have never had to drive in anything that terrible.
It was so much worse than any snow storm.
The unplowed, packed down snow that had become ice.
After 40 miles of it, we pulled off so I could regroup.
But instead I totally lost it.
I was sobbing.
And then to top it off, my nose started bleeding.
The teens were concerned I'm sure,
but Kevin implored me to pull myself together.
And I did.
The next 40 miles were easier.
Knowing every inch was ice made it simpler somehow.
Though begin miles from the nearest farm was quite frightening.
The four teens in my car, kept me calm and even smiling.
All the way up to I-75 we were enjoying each others' company.
At that point, when the roads were clear and 70mph was possible, all 4 of them zonked out.
Safe again.

.ash. megan. mel.
cell phone challenge.
chris. megan. ash. michaela.
our beautiful group
isaac. harry. chris. john. shelby.
michaela. megan. kevin.
ashley. tiffany. katie. mel.
.mmm. the sweet victory of pizza after an hour of line waiting.
.youth leaders place torn up, forgiven sins of our teens at a cross.
.aww. us. in our shirts.
Kevin caught mine for me.
it says: LIVE THE CAUSE. Make disciples who make disciples.
Kevin's says: Kung Fu Evangelism. Sometimes. Truth. Hurts.
.dance party prior to the final session.

greatest gospel hip hop rap artist ever.

.see how close we were???

For the complete photo experience check out this album.
If you made it through this post, props to you.
I'm not sure how I did, frankly. :D

February 3, 2010

The One with the Muth

Wonderful snippets from the Pastor-Spouse Retreat.
Frankenmuth, MI post Snowfest weekend.
Chinese buffet in a German tourist town.
Room with a king sized bed and poolside entrance.
Seeing old friends.
Talking with recently made friends.
Making new friends.
Not being the "noobs."
Hearing a totally new perspective of Galatians 6:9.
(Do not lose heart in doing the beautiful.
You may not see the fruit of your work soon. Or ever in this life.
Speaking of fruit.
I learned Galatians 5:22-23 is about the FRUIT of the Spirit.
Not the fruitS of the Spirit.
It's not a pick and choose thing.
It's all or none.)
Worshipful music. Solid musicians.
Delicious dinner of the Western persuasion.
A Kroger run for nighttime snacks.
Pepper Jack Cheez-Its and Diet Coke in BED!
Late night trip to the adults only pool and hot tub.
Had an...entertaining...conversation with a slightly buzzed couple.
Who then invited us to the in-house bar.
Glad they enjoyed our company and weren't deterred by our "title."
Walking around downtown through beautifully enormous snowflakes fluttering down all around us.
Buy 3 slices of fudge, get one free plus a bag of almonds.
Spending time with Dale and Pam.
Taking crazy photos. Examples to follow.
Chocolate peanut butter CHEESE?! Who does that?! NOT cool, Muth, not cool.
Coupons. Enough said.
A late afternoon treadmill date after an early afternoon nap.
Watching stoic pastors get a little crazy during a "rodeo."
Spending quality time with my husband. Different environments are surprisingly refreshing.

Catching up with Emily. What a wonderful woman. I heart her.

This is me. About to be awesome at lassoing a saddle.
My excitement displayed itself in a shrill cry of, "I got it!"
Many of the 150+ attendees got quite the laugh from that.

This is where we found our fudge.
I picked out chocolate peanut butter (fudge, not cheese.)
Kevin chose chocolate raspberry.
(eew. he's smart. knows I won't want to snitch any of it.)

walking around downtown with Dale and Pam.
Enjoying the sights of snow and ice sculptures at Snowfest.

my husband is funny.
here, he is trying to imitate this bearded dragon lizard thing.

us in front of the real life Atlantis.


Here, I will sacrifice myself in his place.
Scapegoat if you will.

best pose ever.
Simba and Nala.
Kevin and Mel.
It's true love.

a covered bridge.
trying to be as cool as the covered bridges from my hometown.
and check out the snowflakes.

I love this photo.
It captures our silliness.
My sheer joy and laughter of being with him.
He thinks it's lame.
That it looks like I'm mocking him as he tries to kiss me.

you be the judge.

ahh, yes, the one and only Bavarian Inn Lodge.

A few of the many who got into costume for the Western Theme of the night.
I will admit it.
We were party poopers.
Or so it appeared.
But we're just not costume people.
Though I thoroughly enjoy looking at those who are.

As you can tell, we had a lovely time.
Now, I will return to my long-awaited inter-library-loan copy of Redemption.
Large print edition.

February 1, 2010

The One where She Can't Keep From Singing

Things I did not do this weekend.
MckMama has quite a list of her own "not me" confessions.
Here are a few of mine.

When asked by our teens if all the brownies were gone
I certainly did not say, "Nope!" after having put away the remaining morsels of chocolately goodness to enjoy myself later on.
I wouldn't be that sneaky!
(And though the previous situation never happened, I will admit that I told two of the girls where to find the leftovers.
Boys just eat too many, too fast!)

I did not thoroughly enjoy joining forces with my husband and Pastor Dale and Pam
as we utterly embarrassed their teenage son, Chris with not-so-subtle comments of what may or may not happen behind closed doors these next two days while we are all at the Pastor-Spouse Retreat.
Nope, not me!
I would never relish in someone's red face, nor would I make mention of the marriage bed.

I have just recently been in contact with my choir director from college as I help one of our high school seniors in the audition process.
It was great talking to him again and I was touched when he included a link to this YouTube video which my friend, Britt, happened to have uploaded in 2007.
The recording is from our Spring Concert after returning from Choir Tour.
Singing How Can I Keep From Singing, here is the Spring Arbor University Concert Choir with yours truly singing the soprano solo and my good friend, Stella, singing alto.

I'm definitely not rather impressed with the number of views (18k+) this video has received
and am honored by many of the comments.
I was not thrilled with the privilege to perform.
(I do, however, apologize in advance for all but the last phrase of the song. EEeeek! Stupid cracking voice.)
And it certainly wasn't me who was excited to have her long ago performance acknowledged this way by her director.
Nope, not me.