Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Can I get a witness on how many times I've started a post with "I'm sick..."?

I see that hand. Thank you.

And I'm sick again. Two days before Youth Camp I was throwing up. Now during Creative Arts Camp I have a sore throat that makes me not even want to open my mouth, let alone push air through the vocal chords to produce waves that may resonate through my sore throat.

And of course I'm teaching drama and storytelling. Probably the most quiet, relaxing, non-talk-requiring track of them all.


And the kindergardeners are great. I love reading stories to them and playing with them. But the older the classes get, the more worn out I become and the voice I already don't want to use raises and reminds and tries to maintain a healthy balance between discipline and fun, between audible words and silence.

It's a stretch both ways.

I'm not going to lie to you. I'm not called to children's ministry. I love kids, don't get me wrong. I'm good with kids, it's true. But I cannot handle kids in mass quantities. And not kids who all want to be the center of attention in drama class. And not kids who won't listen during storytime or sit down or stop running around the room or who won't respect others or stop talking or or or... augh!

No wonder my throat is sore.

No that's not true. I don't yell at them. It's probably allergies, hopefully not something worse. But if I wake up in the morning and it's still as fat and sore as it is right now, I'm going to the doctor.

I can't handle being sick kind of like I can't handle mass quantities of kids.

They both require me to take mass quantities medicine.


My throat hurts.
I can't sleep. It's 12:11 am and I can't pull myself away from the computer to go to bed. I was tired two hours ago. 14 hours after I woke up. That's pretty normative for me. But now I'm on 16 hours of opened eyes, and now I can't sleep.

So I check myspace and get paranoid that my friends talk to my sister more than they talk to me. I'm such a narcissistic idiot.

And I check email but lack the energy to respond.

And I check for comments on my blogs and find that I haven't been that motivational lately and I sure as hell haven't been anectdotally funny. We're going on months since the last "my cat ate my fish" story. Of course, my cat died, so that might be the problem there.

Sorry. That was pessimisstic and a low blow. I didn't mean it that way. I'm just generally lethargic right now. I think cause I'm tired, but I can't sleep. There's so much to make me happy and so much to make me worry (I blame most of that on Bush, selfish consumerism and communal ambiguity); I try and balance work with play, but I don't always succeed.

What a lame blog. I'm deleting it now.

Except that means I have to get off the computer.

So the blog stays on. And so do I...

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Margaret Ann, Mom and her cousin Sue
Jim and Bonnie (my second cousin and wife)

The shy flower girl...
I'm in Orlando having just driven in for my second cousin once removed's wedding. (Figure that one out). It was a beautiful wedding with a very festive reception afterwards. Wine, soup, salad, sorbet, cordon bleu, filet mignon and lots of country dancing. It was quite entertaining. But mom and I drove in from Atlanta at 5am yesterday morning, so by the time the dancing started, I only had three in me. Then I drove Aunt Louise (my second cousin in law's aunt) and Margaret Ann (my first cousin once removed in law's sister) home at 11 and crashed. Now I'm taking a break from the pool to blog about my latest travels. Tonight I fly home to Austin where I will stay for at least three weeks, thank God. It's been fabulous going to Colorado, SWBYC, Atlanta and Orlando, but I'm ready to be home. See you soon Austin!

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

AIDS Summit today.

I remember learning about AIDS in school. About how you can't contract it. About how you can.

I remember growing up in the theatre.

I remember being in Minnesota and seeing Godspell and feeling the awe and joy of taking in an amazing and creative production. I remember remembering watching Godspell in Missouri. I remember Heidi with the long blond hair and the guy who played Jesus and David. I remember mom causually telling me in the car that he had passed away. That he'd died of AIDS. Several months earlier.

I remember feeling crushed. Feeling betrayed that my parents hadn't told me earlier. That I didn't get to go to the funeral. I was the littlest orphan, Molly, when RRT did Annie and he played Rooster. He always kissed me on the head and teased me. I remember idolizing him and the others during Godspell for their animation and talent. Wasn't I as important to them as they were to me?

And my parents didn't tell me this man I looked up to died? I was young and narcissistic.

I remember asking dad about it when we returned from Minnesota. I remember him telling me a story about the last time he'd seen him. He was in a wheel chair and dad didn't say anything to him cause he didn't know what to say. He felt so sad about that. I remember feeling my dad's shame.

The speakers asked us how our churches would respond if we went home asking them to embrace the otherness still appropriated to people with HIV. Honestly, I thought my church would handle it just fine. Our problem would be that our volunteers are stretched so thin and there are so many other causes to take up...

But as I discussed this with a friend of mine from a less progressive city in Texas, she said, "My church still thinks of AIDS as the 'gay disease.' They don't even think there are gay people in the city let alone in our church."

How times have and haven't changed.

AIDS is an issue in Africa, but it is also an issue here. Wake up America. Stop asking members of your congregations to check their sexuality and their shame at the door by never talking about these issues. We only perpetuate the otherness and allow the estrangement to continue! One man told a story of a clergy member who told her church her brother died of cancer because she didn't feel comfortable telling them he actually died of AIDS.

It's time to come out of the closet, not with our sexual orientation, but with our ability to share ourselves and our lives and our brokenness and God's healing and acceptance of all people, all diseased ones, all God's children.

For we are all estranged, all diseased, all broken. All in need of redemption, acceptance and grace.

We all need to know that we are loved by God.

And fortunately, that's just was God wants to give us.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Now I'm only melting because of the heat.

I'm in Hotlanta.

The Cooperative Baptist Fellowship Convention is this week and via my job description and paycheck, I'm required to attend. It should be good though. Lots of interesting things on the agenda. Plus my mater is flying in since she's on staff at a church that is seguing into CBF life and I have several friends who are attending.

Although it sucks that I left my house in disarray with a thankful and apologetic look to my roommate who has suffered through the last three days of heat with me in our unairconditioned abode, it's good to be at a place where renewal perches on the horizon.

And Lauren reported that the AC guy did in fact show up today while I was in flight and fixed the problem. The pipes were clogged. Now for the carpet...the business manager at my church is on top of it. He showed up today at my house to help Lauren deal with the AC inspection. Yet another reason why I love my church.

More to come.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

She's melting.

Not because she's a witch. Because she's emotionally cracking. Losing it. Having a meltdown. Whatever your metaphor, it happened tonight.

I'm sure tomorrow or next week tonight's events will be amusing. Like the day I put regular dishwashing soap in the dishwasher and it overflowed suds and soap for an hour. Or the time I was in a hit-and-run car accident because I thought a little girl needed help. Or the time I set my hair on fire lighting candles at UBC. Or...

But not tonight. Tonight my eyes are still stinging and puffy, and mascara is smeared into the pores across my face. Tonight I'm exhausted and emotionally on edge and sleeping in my underwear with a fan on me to keep me cool cause the air conditioner's turned off cause the unit leaked water so badly into my hall and bathroom that I can't even begin to soak up all the water with or without four towels and two full bedsheets, which of course I can't wash because I bought a broken washer and dryer unit that no one will return my money on.

Did I mention my ex-boyfriend's getting married?

She's melting. She's cracking. She's writing in third person.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

2 days. My parents were gone two days before I managed to kill 4 plants.

What else is new?

As my mother so politely and poignantly informed my neighbor, Tommie, "Ann's not very good with the yard." That kind of made me mad. But with that sort of preface to yard maintenance, I don't feel too bad.

Plus the plants only cost a dollar each.

Still, 2 days, 4 plants.

On the brighter side, let's count what I haven't managed to kill yet.

The three cacti. (I know, they don't require watering). Half a tree that we planted isn't dead yet. Yet. Umm. The hibiscus that the Nethercuts gave me isn't dead yet. It has no more flowers, but it is still green. All the plants Michelle planted around my front door are still alive(thanks to roomies who watered them while I was gone). And there's the two tomato plants in the back yard that were housewarming gifts that are still growing and also the fig tree (which I admit, isn't exactly doing well, but Michelle's isn't either so that makes me feel a little better).

My thumb has yet to turn green, but it is yellowing.

Either that or i'm chickening out of yardwork. Perhaps it really isn't for me. Perhaps it's the soil. Perhaps it's the weather. Perhaps, perhaps, perhaps.

Perhaps if I were in town more than two days a week, I could ascertain what color my thumb is turning.

I'm not bitter, just busy. And the plants are, well... blooming... mostly.

Except the four dead ones, of course.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

I'm off again.

Outbound in Colorado.
Wedding in the Hill Country.
Parents in my house.
Now SWBYC in Sherman, TX.

I can count the days i've been home on my own two hands. It's not a lot, but it'll do.

Summers are hectic, so if I haven't blogged about my dad's obsession with splenda or my mom setting off my alarm upon arrival at my new house, you'll have to forgive me. I'm terribly busy.

Plus I got food poisoning this weekend.
Plus the alarm went off in the middle of the night last night (as if I didn't have to wake up early enough this morning).

Plus, plus, plus.

I'm counting on a surplus of surprise this week. Not surprise, the sound system doesn't work, or surprise, the powerpoints got lost, but surprise, this is a beautiful blessing raining down on you from above. Be quiet, be comforted. Be available to students, but be renewed too.


I'm hoping.

Friday, June 02, 2006

$4000 in 7 days. My sister knows how to shop. No wonder my mom said, "Don't buy anything for your new house until Amy gets there!" But she's gone and I still can't believe it. This week has gone by so fast. She was here, we shopped, bought a couch and love seat, bought an ecologically-friendly washer/dryer unit, painted my bedroom and living room, picked out a duvet and shams, ate out every time we had the chance and then she was gone. It was so fun having my sister with me in my new house, sleeping in the same bed with me just like we did when we were kids. She loved my friends, she loved my ex, she loved Austin. And I loved having her here. But then she was gone, as fast as she came.

And then I was gone. Amy left Saturday and I left Sunday. I went from ultimate American consumer to pee in an outhouse wilderness adventurer. Monday: white water rafting. It was amazing, challenging and beautiful. My head got sunburned and my body got hypothermia. Figures. I'll save you the details. Tuesday: rock climbing and repelling off a cliff. My favorite day. In high school, our church youth group planned a trip repelling. We practiced repelling off the roof of the one-story ministries building. But that's as far as I ever got. It rained at our destination and only the juniors and seniors got to repel. As an eighth grader, I got to play in a creek. But all that changed on Tuesday and with complete confidence that I could not begin to tell where it came from, I bounced off the cliff, flying down to the ground and climbed a rocky cliffside that would put fear in Ann Catherine any other day of her life. But it was amazing. I slipped back into bouldering mode when Jessy used to coach me in good bouldering technique and I shimmied right up that 50 foot rock. Wednesday we hiked. On top of a mountain hiked. Through snow and over rocky hills. Van Trapp family hiked. 5 miles at 10,000 feet will not take you an hour and a half like it would in St. Joe or Austin. It'll take half a day. You just can't breathe in enough air. I'd love to say that you can't breathe in all the beauty of the mountain view all around you or something poetic like that, but literally, you can't freakin' breathe up there. Nature. Weather. Altitude. God was creative.

And then we came home. 30 people learned about leadership and life and their limits and themselves and I came home knowing that I could make it through the rest of the week.

If I can repel off a cliff then I can say good-bye to my sister, and officiate my first wedding all in one week. Not to mention welcome my parents into my new home, plan worship for a Youth camp and perform all my normal weekly duties. I will not freak out. I hiked a mountain and didn't die.

Mom and dad drive in Saturday while I'm in the hill country marrying my first couple. For the first time in my life I can say no longer say "Always the wedding singer, never the bride" because now I'm performing the ceremony.


I am their friend and I am their pastor.

Then I drive home and my parents will welcome me in my new home. They arrive here Saturday, I get home Sunday. We'll meet at church and celebrate my dad's birthday and hopefully the new house. Today (yesterday as of three minutes ago) is my dad's birthday. Although I talked to my mom twice today and my grandma once, I never talked to my dad. I'm not sure how that happened. But that's his picture at the top of this blog. He and Potter at Christmas. Potter is much older now and so is my dad I guess.

So good-bye Pittsy, "Sanders" misses you; good-bye mountains, thanks for the encouragement; hello weekend wedding, I promise not to screw up; and hello mom and dad, I'm sorry I didn't call the day of your Birthday.

But I love you dad, so this long post is dedicated to you. You gave me life, you gave me Amy, you gave me the strength to move away, you taught me to use my gifts, and now you visit me - not only your daughter, but a fully grown adult.

Amazing huh?

I think so too.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

School’s out. It is finished. For those of you who graduated, congrats, you don’t have to go back unless you want to. Take your relief and run with it. To those of you who are not finished but are on summer break, take your relief and run with it until August rolls around. And for those of you, those of us, not in school, not in a nine-month rotation, we remember those days and what it felt to say, I’m done. Last class today. Last final. This semester’s over.


We don’t get that kind of relief anymore. The fun summer vacation time, so we seek it elsewhere. Instead of “last class” we get to finish one project or sermon or business transaction before we start the next. Instead of “last final,” we finally get stable financially and can start paying off the credit card. Instead of “the semester’s over,” we at least get Monday off for Memorial day.

Wherever you are, whatever you’re doing, it’s still the same. If it isn’t school, it’s work. If it isn’t boy problems, it’s a dysfunctional family. If it isn’t money, then it’s stress. If it isn’t spiritual lethargy, it’s emotional distance.

And we crave relief. All of us.

Those in Africa dying of AIDS crave relief. Those in Mexico without enough food crave relief. Those on the gulf who haven’t yet fixed their house after the hurricanes last year and who worry about what worse ones lie ahead this year crave relief. The young woman who hates the way she looks craves relief. The young man who just wants to find love craves relief. The business associate who wants to feel fulfilled in her job craves relief. The man who can’t get a job craves relief.

And anyone homeless and out in the heat today craves relief.

The needs are great and come arise in varied forms, but so does the relief.

When creation groans, so does the heavens and for once, we are all on level ground.

God lamented.
Jesus wept.
And so do we.

So do we.

So do we crave relief.

The good news is, relief is come. Relief has come through Jesus Christ and relief will continue with us.

The spirit of God who was present at creation and moved upon both Israelites and foreigners in the Hebrew scriptures came alive in Christ and now works through us.

Relief does not mean absence of pain, relief does not mean absence from hurt. It does not promise food on every table, a roof over every head and a heart never broken in any person’s life.

Relief means a God who moves with us and amongst us and who understands.

Relief means finding ourselves enabled and commissioned to bring relief to the world around us.

The presence of God who is in us will move through us as we minister to one another and to our world at large. Minister through kind words, reconciling actions, by feeding the hungry, loving the sick, housing the homeless, enabling the broken, visiting the imprisoned.

As Maurice Hulst said, we all need assistance, we all need to be sustained. Husband and wife, brother and sister, businessmen, homeless women, huge Catholic families, one parent families, all of us seek the rejuvenation that comes in relief.

And so find it, take it, claim it. Whether it is emotional health, a vacation from work, caring for your family, providing for those around you, standing confident that God is with you even when the world around you seems to be falling apart.

Find it. It is there. Relief is come. I am is I am and ever will be.

And so must we be for others.