I've gotten a few calls on my cell from solicitors. Today, I said enough is enough.
I registered my cell, my wife, and our home on the national do not call list. I say spread the love and join my "get off my phone" train.
So if you're selling me something, don't call me. I aints got time for u sucka.
Tuesday, September 30, 2008
I've gotten a few calls on my cell from solicitors. Today, I said enough is enough.
Well, adopting 2 kids puts a lot of family stuff back on the front burner. Which is where most of it should be anyway. What I really mean is that the family machine can be a little rusty in some areas if you have some fudge room. However 2 more lives in our home pushes the limits of space/time and forces me to deal with some things I could otherwise ignore in my own self, my own marriage, and my family. There's just no room to hide our inadequacies in the closet or shove them under the carpet. It all must be dealt with in order to bring about health.
So far, it's forced me back into some family life reading:
- I've re-read two great reads on keeping family first: Choosing to Cheat by Andy Stanley and What Matters Most by Doug Fields. Both basically challenge me to say no to all the right things so I can say yes to all the best things. Both are great, quick, and insightful reads.
- I've also just finished reading Patrick Lencioni's newest book: The Three Big Questions for a frantic family. I bought it the day it hit the news stands the felt need was so high in my life. Shannon is now reading it and then I'm hoping we'll put it into full practice. (More on that in a future post I'm sure) It's a leadership parable that reads easy and applies some business planning tools to the most important organization on earth: the family. And if you ask me, it's a MUST READ for all families in the United States that I'm aware of. I believe it will really help our family have a basis and clear directive for how and why we make the choices we do. I found myself saying, "dude, that's us" about 50 times as I read this little book.
This transition has also brought to the surface 3 critical things I need to come to grips with in my life:
- ALONE TIME: I need alone time to be healthy. I often don't get enough of this- just time for me to read, pray, think, sleep, dream, etc. I need to schedule and block out regular time to keep myself healthy. When I let the demands of family and ministry push this away, I jeopardize my ability to be a healthy part of the process and instead become part of the problem. I get cranky, dissatisfied, and start living by the demands of the day instead of my priorities. I'm learning to say no to stuff to keep this time sacred. In fact, this past week I said no to a wedding, 4 ministry tasks that I needed to get done but I had no time to do (God brought others instead!), and a post-season soccer coaching request. But I still have a ways to go.
- MARRIAGE TIME: My marriage requires and deserves time. Maybe you are super-married people and this is a duh for you, but sometimes, due to the demands of parenting, money, and ministry- our marriage can get our leftover time. There are clothes to wash and mouths to feed and lawns to mow and bills to pay- and it all takes time- and sometimes in comes out of "our" time. I've uniquely felt the sting of this in the past month as the pressure and demands of the adoption process increase- it's forcing us/me to evaluate what gets my time and what does not. My marriage must get some of my best time, not extra time. This is not bonus if it happens, it is a failure when it does not.
- THE DOMINOE EFFECT: Yeah, I suck at dominoes. There, I said it. I suck at acknowledging how one decision affects another in 2 major areas: my time and my money. I'm learning to get better at this, but it's hard to always say no to a "last minute phone call" that inadvertantly means I now have to rush to get home for dinner, when the later was way more important than the former anyway. It's hard to take note of how swinging by and grabbing a cup of coffee affects the bottom line of a gallon of gas or even how much gas I have to play with since I drove to get java. It all dominoes into other stuff and adding two more kids into the mix is forcing me to deal with this issue in my life: I need to daily monitor the downstream affects of my small decisions on the big picture of sanity and priority.
Monday, September 29, 2008
Last week I figured out I could post pictures on my facebook profile through iphoto with a cool little application addative I watched a friend use.
So today I googled "facebook iphoto" and up came a link to this lovely doodad I installed. Then with one click, I instantly was able to put an entire album of 46 pictures up, add captions if I wanted to, and tag friends in them who are also on facebook all in a matter of like 5 minutes.
How stinkin cool is that!
Thursday, September 25, 2008
Well, as many of you who read this blog already know, we went to Uganda this summer as a family to work with an orphanage and the people in the some surrounding villages. You also know that we took 11 students and 4 adults from my youth ministry with us. You also know that we stayed for a few weeks after that team left and had some family vacation.
You may also know that we visited our World Vision sponsor child while there. We got to meet Geoffrey face to face, hang out with him for an hour or so, and bring he and his family some much needed supplies.
However, what you may not know is that while in Jinja one morning, the following conversation took place.
Shannon on her way out of the shower one morning: "Brian, God gave me two names."
Me: "Um, ok."
Wife: "Becky and Billy."
Then I went to breakfast.
I then arrive at breakfast to the following conversation like 5 minutes later.
My students are now talking to Mandy- the director of the orphanage we're working in. They ask, "Hey Mandy, which of the kids in the orphanage are adoptable right now?"
Mandy: "Well we have so and so and so and so and so and so and so and so. And that's all right now."
Mandy continues: "But, I have a few others I think I'm going to try and see if we can get permission to have someone adopt them. There is one set of true twins who are the last of the children in the orphanage since the day I took it over some 5 years ago. I have not seen their father in 4 years and have never met their mom. Their names are Becky and Billy."
My heart stops.
Wife looks at me across the room both looking a little freaked and a little excited.
Now, fast forward 6 weeks.
After much prayer, counsel, struggle, stress, fear facing, encouragement, research, and gut checking, we as a couple and a family with our boys have agreed to follow God's leading into adoption.
So, it's official, we are now in the full swings of the process of adopting 2 more kids. They are a boy/girl set of twins who are 6 months younger than jake (or 5 and 1/2). Her name is Becky. His name is Billy.
That's right, the "B.B." initial count is about to triple in the berry family.
So now, perhaps you have some questions. What follows are a series of "FAQ's" people have asked or wondered about:
Q: ARE YOU CRAZY?
A: No... ok, well maybe. Um... fine. Yes. It's nuts.
Q: ARE YOU SURE GOD GAVE SHANNON THOSE NAMES?
A: Believe me, I drilled my wife on if she'd had some previous conversation with Mandy and what not. God is whispering kid names to my wife in the shower. I'm not sure if that's ok, but God seems to not be too concerned about it.
Q: DID YOU JUST GET SOME CRAZY EMOTIONAL ATTACHMENT WORKING AT THE ORPHANAGE AND NOW YOU ARE FOLLOWING THROUGH ON THIS?
A: Nope. No emotional attachment in this story. No great memory that we had that tugged our heart strings for weeks. Just simply God's call, though the heart strings are coming as time goes on and as we pray more about this.
Q: IS THIS OUT OF THE BLUE?
A: Yes and No. Yes, cuz we didn't plan this or even seek it out. No, because we have talked about the possibility of adopting a daughter ever since we decided to be done having kids the old fashioned way after Jake. Yes, because we never thougtht it would be 2 more kids. No, because God is opening too many doors to be coincidence.
Q: DID YOU MEET BECKY AND BILLY?
A: Yep, we did. But never as the, "hey, these people are going to adopt you people." Just casually like we did with all the other kids.
Q: ARE YOU AWARE THEY WILL BE CALLED THE "BLACK BERRIES"
A: Yep. Kinda cute now. I'm sure they'll need to know Karate to keep it from being a regular part of their Middle School years.
Q: DO YOU HAVE A PICTURE?
A: Yep, here it is. We did take a "family" picture with lots of sibling sets so as not to tip them off as to our process or mindset in case things changed as we returned home. We had shared the story with Mandy and she suggested this step as it was going to be needed as a piece of the adoption process if we continued along this path.
Q: WHAT DOES THIS COST?
A: Um a bunch. Like thousands. Less than 50G, more than 10G. God has so far already shown us he's going to provide for this need. We have had about 1/3 of our money come in already through some very Holy Spirit led ways and this blog post is the "first official notice" of this life transition.
Q: WHEN WILL THIS HAPPEN?
A: We're shooting to leave January 7, 2009. We'll be in Uganda for for up to 5 weeks, returning to the states in early February.
Q: HOW CAN I HELP?
A: 3 ways:
- If you're in the area, we're gonna need more baby sitters :)
- Um, we could always use lots of prayer, now more than ever.
- Also, if you'd like to join us with the financial part of this, we'd welcome any support you feel led to offer. Shoot me an e-mail and I'll send you an address where you can send a tax deductible check if you are in that boat.
Lots more blog posts to come I'm sure. Hold on, we're going for a ride.
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
I'm not a big believer in the bulletin method of announcements. My church is one that can have between 5 and 10 pieces of loose paper in every bulletin every week- so they are easy to ignore.
But, last week, it worked. No joke. It worked.
I put a flyer that read: "We are missing a few pieces, and it just might be you."
Below I listed 4 blue collar jobs and a brief description of the job that I needed help with. I specifically didn't say it was for students because I didn't want them thinking I needed youth or that they had to love kids in order to help. I asked for the following 4 people:
- CARPENTER/CABINET MAKER
I had a grandma take a curtain home to repair it on Monday.
Then tonight I spoke with a cabinet maker on the phone. I have built 5 cabinets for our high school room so far: a sound booth, a check in booth, a game cabinet, and 2 kitchen lowers. But I have two sets of upper kitchen cabinets that have been waiting to be built in my garage. I've been tripping over for 18 months because I can't find or make the time to finish it for church and now it's going away. TOMORROW! I'm taking it to Journey and a professional cabinet maker is taking it off my hands.
I think I danced when I got off the phone. I might have even screamed. It was such a victory.
AS A RESULT, THERE ARE AT LEAST THREE LEADERSHIP LESSONS/REMINDERS FOR ME IN THIS:
- ASK FOR HELP. People really want to serve- especially those who think "God can't use my skill set in the church."
- ASK FOR HELP MORE OFTEN. I end up doing more than I should because I'm too quick to say, "I could do that". (The honest truth is I can do all of those tasks. I can sew, paint, weld, wire lights, and build a cabinet. Problem is, based on my leadership demands, I shouldn't be doing any of them right now.)
- WORK SMART FIRST, WORK HARD SECOND. It took work to find the help. It just took me working smarter, and in the end, it turned out to be way less work than doing it myself. I should know that by now. But it's taken 14 years of knocking the stupid out of me to find this victory moment.
Monday, September 22, 2008
I found myself randomly encouraged in the last 2 days by two really random sources.
- I read this article which I found on Marko's blog. I used it in my message on Sunday to challenge our students to consider what it says or doesn't say about the idea that "everyone matters." In my opinion, it is an article about an act that is degrading to women in the clearest way and presses the issue of "everyone matters" in some negative ways. However, the more I thought about it, it's also one of the greatest encouragements I think a young woman might have today. It demonstrates that our secular culture believes that a woman in her 20's who has held onto her virginity possesses such a rare commodity that it is worth at least $250,000. Consequently, when [in this case] I challenge the young women in our ministry take their virginity into marriage, they take a gift that even our non-believing society acknowledges is both immensely valuable and extremely rare. In a backwards way, that's encouraging.
- Tonight I was reading for seminary and had the Jets vs. Charger game on, but without volume. So at one point I looked up, just in time to see Brett Favre throw an interception that was then promptly taken back for a Charger touchdown. In the next frame, while the Chargers celebrate, Farve is shown on the screen with this title "NFL record holder for most career interceptions: 290". I immediately was encouraged. If a man who is surely headed for the NFL hall of fame as a quarterback can hold such a horrible record and still be regarded as one of the best of all time, there is hope. I can be a total screw up in some areas and still be considered immensely valuable. In a backwards way, that's encouraging too.
Sunday, September 21, 2008
I don't often "get" mark driscoll. But that doesn't mean much I suppose.
It means we don't share the same view on many issues in the church. It means we could have a spirited debate over a beverage. It doesn't mean I think he's not a believer or satan- all of which I'm sure he's been called- mostly because he rarely minces words. He has a long reputation of "speaking his mind" and with his extreme views, creating a love him or hate him environment. It also creates, like a big political figure, a long list of followers in a grip of locations in the Seattle area.
Regardless, his latest teaching series is one I ran across by accident today. I heard it was from Mark Driscoll on the Song of Songs so I was already skeptical. I'm sure we don't share a lot of the same views on sexuality, women, or the interpretation on this book's literary form.
But I was utterly unprepared for this website. It's not my picture of the image of the Biblical book. It's not my picture of Mark. And it is utterly weird. I think they might have hired a new web animator with an idea and a paycheck. I don't get it. Maybe the teaching will clear it up. Maybe not.
Thursday, September 18, 2008
I have hair issues.
#1. It's running to the back of my head. (It's not coming out my ears yet, but I'm sure it will)
#2. It's evidently growing more on one side of my face than the other. My wife said during a conversation today, "can we talk about your side burns?" I said, "No. What are you talking about?" She said one is longer than the other significantly.
So I took the photo evidence of my stupid sideburns who evidently don't talk to one another and my forehead that is gaining real estate.
don't worry, I have a solution. I'm going to cut it off my side burn and glue it on my head.
I went to the wedding of a former student last April. Today I got the thank you note from this student.
Before you think this post is about how long that took... keep reading.
This student was one of the first students I met in my very first youth ministry job. I think he has been out of Powerhouse High School ministry for at least 10 years now.
Here's the letter:
Favorite Powerhouse Memories:
Thank you guys. Oh yes, thanks for the nifty glasses set too! We'll come visit you guys soon sometime.
- Brian and camp staff attacking boys cabins in pick-up truck, getting soaked and getting the windshield broken....
- Busting out the hoola hoops off the grape-vine w/Katie while van was being fixed on the way to Mexico.
- Poorly "TP"ing your house with Daryl and Mikey so much that you didn't bother cleaning it up
- Listening to "play that funky music whiteboy" loudly on the way to camp in the bus while Brian pumped the brakes (dangerously) to the beat on 580.
- Brian and Shannon pulling me aside, faces beaming, at the wedding in 2008 and exclaiming how happy they are for me.
SO, HERE'S THE TRUTHS I FOUND INSIDE THIS LOVE NOTE:
Lesson #1: no youth group teaching I give ever makes the "best of" list. Not sure what that means since this guy sat through hundreds of talks, but nonetheless, it's true.
Lesson #2: The best and longest lasting fruit in youth ministry is the stuff that happens in the unplanned, unscripted, craziness of doing life together.
Lesson #3: I really need to get a bus for Encounter. I miss jacking with kids while I'm driving.
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
Today I felt like God gave me those two words to ponder. It came in a question: "Which do you want to live by: convenience or conviction?"
- Convenience is comfortable and easy. Conviction is risky and difficult.
- Convenience enables one's desires. Conviction shapes one's behavior.
- Convenience is common. Conviction is rare.
- Convenience loves what I've always done. Conviction takes the road less traveled, regardless of the cost.
- Convenience is recycling when there's a drop spot in the hall. Conviction causes you to carry the empty bottle all the way home if need be.
- Convenience prays with my family at church. Conviction prays when no one is looking.
- Convenience is saying "I'm a christian." Conviction is living like Jesus.
- Convenience says helping others is important. Conviction says talk is cheap.
- Convenience eats whatever, whenever food is around. Conviction chooses what to eat and when.
- Convenience obeys my desires. Conviction obeys my soul.
- Convenience is casual. Conviction is powerful.
- Convenience causes one to please people. Conviction causes one to lead people.
- Convenience gives when money is plentiful. Conviction gives out of principle.
- Convenience empowers laziness. Conviction fuels self-discipline.
We ask our students to bring a buck a week. So far, it's not exactly owned by all. More like about 25% of them. But for what it's worth. Here's why we ask for a buck a week.
I'm praying they bring it. It's amazing how a large group of students doing small things together can truly change the world we live in.
So I posted my love for our online student database and recommended to you youth pastor types to get it.
Well today, I logged onto youth tracker and they just added the ability to set up an event and then through a custom link, allow my parents to register and pay for their students event using either checking, savings, or a credit card.
YAHOOOOO! So cool. I love these guys.
Monday, September 15, 2008
I was asked by a friend about a month ago if I wanted to join a fantasy football league. My response was "Thanks, but I can't make the time to follow the NFL and I've never been very good at caring much." Add to that my lame memory and the fact that I have too many names I don't know in my student ministry to justify knowing the names of those on NFL jerseys better and you have a recipe for lameness.
I still feel like a schmuck for not being able to say yes.
Sadly, the reality is my lack of football time is ridiculously true for me this season. I really enjoy watching the games. But it's the second week of the season (I think) and I have not even watched 5 minutes of a game. I've been slammed all day for the past 2 Sundays and my Monday nights are spent in seminary this quarter. I'm gonna have to free up some Sunday night with a beer and some chips before the superbowl though.
I'm in a class for seminary tonight. It's on the history of the church.
I'm sure there's lots of times when I'll say, "I never knew that" in this course as it covers the first 1500 years of the Christian Church. Like just now the prof said that Martin Luther was controversial and inspiring to many in his day because of his status as a "married monk". Never knew that.
Anyway- on a significantly less profound note... here's three recent finds I have discovered in the land of all things computerish... I'm pretty sure they are not new to many- but they were new to me. I'm kinda late to the party I assume. But here they are in case you're later than I am.
- SPELL CHECK SHORTCUT. If I right click (or control click on my mac) on a misspelled word, it offers me some immediate suggestions without me having to use the dictionary tool. It works in lots of applications. Even blogger does this.
- GOOGLE CALCULATOR. If you do a google search with a series of numbers and addition signs between them, google automatically turns into a calculator and offers the sum. I rarely pull out a calculator these days.
- WORD NOTEBOOK VIEW. The newest version of MS word has a tool called the "notebook view" in which you can create pages with tabs like in a binder. I've traditionally taken notes in class and saved each class as a separate word doc. This time, I'm using notebook view and creating tabs for each class period so it's all enclosed in one doc. I also used this to take notes during the Leadership Summit. Hopefully it will help me keep a single useful resource.
SUNDAY WAS AN AMAZING DAY FOR ME. 3 REASONS.
1. SHEER NUMBERS:
I'm not a big numbers guy as a means of success, so chalk it up to whatever you want, but last weekend set a new regular Sunday record in just people showing up to our high school program. There were 157 people in there! We had been hovering around 130 during our 10:45am service for about the last 4 weeks which was really good for us. But then yesterday, I spent most of the morning adding chairs. The first year I was here at Journey the attendance at this service hovered between 15 and 30! What a different feel. I had to ask kids to move over one and make room for more. I had some leaders sitting on the floor in the back. A visiting friend had to stand all morning.
Crazy I tell you. Crazy.
It's been a long time coming. It was overwhelming in a good way. I was so proud of our team. They are so many who deserve the credit for this. Our students are in the band, the tech, the producers, sending visitor cards... our leaders are showing up. It was simply a great thing to watch.
There is a great vibe in Encounter right now. Not sure totally how to explain it, but it just feels right.
This was the second week in a series we're doing on reaching out to your friends called "everyone matters". Maybe it's working. Yesterday I met one freshman who brought 3 friends with him. I met another gal who was visiting for the first time because she ran into one of ours students at the mall who invited her and she showed on her own! Amazing.
Then we had a great student leader meeting at my house after church. About 30 students showed up for a BBQ and a chance to dive into the behind the scenes leadership of our student ministries team. We had a pretty even mix of gender, grade, and school environments which was encouraging. We talked about our vision. We talked about our calendar. We made some new friends. Some of us even sorted cans and bottles we've been collecting from church to help sponsor world vision kids. I ended by telling these students that I was so proud and honored to be working with them. I really meant that.
3. COLLEGE STUFF.
Sunday capped off with the fall launch of New Format- our college ministry. In the 3 1/2 years I've been here, the college ministry has had 3 different part-time leaders, 2 group names, several logos, 2 rooms on campus, and at least 3 changes in "style". So, as you can imagine, it's been hard to build momentum.
Anyway, last May the church made some decisions to move Sarah Merk into the newest of the part-time leadership roles with college. That culminated last night with their first meeting. There was excitement and desire and passion and ownership and 65ish people. It was great. I loved seeing former students in leadership. I loved watching our college ministry get off to a good start this school year. I loved what God is doing and has done in this space. Oh... and Sarah's message on our innate God made desire for community was spot on for my life too. I was so stoked for this team today. It was an encouragement to the leaders of today and a great thing for the history of those who helped it stay alive and breathed new life into it through the years.
Sunday, September 14, 2008
We decided that a postcard is a great way to use some old school snail mail to tell students we value them. We've asked all our small group leaders to take advantage of them. I decided to order them in color. They came in this week. Here's the 3 I made that we'll be sharing this week:
A BIRTHDAY CARD.
A "WHERE YOU BEEN?" CARD.
AN ENCOURAGEMENT CARD.
Ok, if you're a youth pastor who reads this blog, my one piece of solid advice for you is, get a youth tracker.net account.
We have all our students in an online database they host. It is therefore password accessible anywhere in the world that I can get internet access. We have middle school, high school, and college in it.
I can enter tons of custom fields, tracks event attendance, write mentor notes, and all in an extremely user friendly format. Next week we start adding photos.
In about 20 seconds, I can send a text to our entire youth group database or any individual group I choose for 8.5 cents per text and I don't have to know their cell carrier like a lot of texting programs. For me that means that I can remind our entire student leadership team or all our guys small groups of a meeting via cell for less than $4 and it even tells me who saw it and who did not. I can send out a text advertisement for an upcoming outreach event to the entire list of regulars and visitors for about $40! You can't beat that in a day and age where texting rules with students.
Even our volunteer adults have access to their students by a special login. I've tried a lot of databases but none that I have found can compare with the usability, versatility, and simplicity of this program. I cannot recommend a better tool to manage students than this one. They even uploaded ALL our data from a previous pain in the butt management system we were using. We just exported it in excel and for a dismal $25 fee- whalla, instant online data.
And no... I don't get bonus points and I can't offer a discount if you mention my name.
Friday, September 12, 2008
I go to church on Friday nights at Journey.
Tonight was the second week in a series called, "the other Joseph". It's on the Joseph of the OT, not the NT spouse of Mary we often think of with Joseph.
Anyway, some of the best preaching I've ever heard has been on the life of Joseph. One of my favorite messages of all time was a teaching on the life of Joseph and enduring tough times given by Andy Stanley at Catalyst several years back. It was absolutely amazing. This series has made we want to track it down. (I'm pretty sure it's a message called, "in the meantime". If so, it's here if you want to get it.)
Anyway, tonight Ed lived up to the Joseph tradition in my life. There were two quotes I wrote down that rang true for me.
"Do the right work, regardless of the job you do... Your faithfulness in your work will come back to you"I want to be both of those things. I want to be the kind of guy that works hard, regardless of the job, out of pure integrity and devotion to worship Jesus. I want to be the guy that when I tell you, "I got it"- you can walk away and check it off on the to do list as done.
"Be the guy that you boss can trust. The one he can give a job to and walk away with a confidence that when you say, 'I got it', you mean it. It's as good as done."
I believe, that like Joseph, that is the kind of work God blesses, regardless of what miserable circumstances life may throw at you. I believe that is the kind of man or woman that God chooses to entrust more and more to. It's the kind of leader and volunteer that are far too few and far between in the church. I want to be this. I want to work and spend time with others who desire this too.
These two insights are so hard to find today. I'd say they are an endangered species in some contexts. I often tell students, if you do the following three things.... I don't care where you start in your company, you'll eventually end up in upper management. Probably sooner than later.
- Do an honest days work. Show up on time and actually work the hours your paid for.
- Don't steal from your employer.
- Follow through with your commitments. Be a man or woman of your word.
One final thought: The Quakers had a phrase they would say regarding work. It was this, "Hands to work, hearts to God." It meant that they saw how they worked as an extension of their connection with God. So they valued a simple excellence in all they did. It's why we still have near perfect Quaker furniture from the 1860's in antique stores. When my heart is in the right place, my work will reflect it. Joseph's work history is Case #1 evidence this is true.
Thursday, September 11, 2008
A while back, our church asked me to oversee student ministries, where it included the oversight of not just middles school and high school, but also that of college as well. One of the first things I did was set up some monthly meetings with the middle school, high school, and college coordinators so that we could come up with a collective vision statement.
We did, and today I added it to our brainstorming / weekend planning room wall. We ordered a custom prose from Blik. It's a giant sticker thing. Turned out sweet. Here it is on our wall.
Now if it can just get beyond words on a wall and into our hearts. We're going to go over it every time we meet to plan in there, which is at least weekly with some of our student leadership team.
We are all doing a series called "re-generation" where we are teaching on it together in our respective ministry weekend services for 4 weeks in October/November too. Should be sweet.
Tuesday, September 09, 2008
here's a random list of stuff I dreamt up while driving home from Pt. Loma today.
- play/coach soccer
- take photos
- hunt or fish
- build stuff just for fun in my wood shop
- drive my 65 mustang on a country road for fun
- own/ride a horse
- speak for College Life at U.C. Davis
Monday, September 08, 2008
I know what you're thinking. "Dude said his grandma died like last week." And yes, you're correct... however she now has a blog. You can check it out here.
It's pretty simple, just what my mom wanted so that some of those from Nor Cal and around the globe who knew my grandma can drop in and share some love.
Friday, September 05, 2008
Friday is the day I try to schedule most of my personal meetings.
4 were set for today.
4 either ditched or canceled on me.
4 for 4.
I'm now gonna go have a big bowl of ice cream and get a bumper sticker made that says "If you want to ditch me, you're going to have to get in line."
My only remaining "meeting" is dinner with my family tonight before church. If they ditch me, I might just get that bumper sticker tattooed across my back.
Here's how my day started.
7:50 drop the two younger kids off at school and go to work. In my office praying about some stuff that's really not sitting well with me today. I'm already kinda on the verge of tears to be honest and writing a note to deal with one of the issues.
8:30 TJ's ride is supposed to show up to take him to school.
8:41 he calls me and says they have not arrived.
8:41 and a half- I call 2 families to try and find out if they are home and can help.
8:44- no luck. No one's home. I call TJ back and say I'll leave the office and come get him.
8:46 jump in the car and get on freeway to go home and help TJ get to school.
8:47 and 3 seconds, TJ calls my cell. I have not put in my earpiece yet, cuz I'm in a ridiculous hurry and not making calls, but answer the phone due to who is calling.
8:47 and 5 seconds. I pass a motorcycle cop with a radar gun.
8:48 and 7 seconds, TJ tells me they were running late and I hang up.
8:48 and 10 seconds, cop pulls out onto the freakin freeway. I pull off on next off ramp since I no longer have to go get TJ. Cop then pulls up next to me and pulls me over with that annoying pointing thing they do. He then sees that I have a hands free piece sitting next to me and I am not on my cell. I tell him it was a mistake and that I'm sorry, my son called me from home and.... whatever- he asks for all my junk and then gives me a ticket for a 4 second phone call. The stupid ticket even says I was doing 10 miles BELOW the speed limit. RIDICULOUS!!!
I don't think God likes me today. I know the cops don't. I'm positive my wallet is pissed at me and I might just have my feakin ear piece surgically attached to satisfy california law.
Thursday, September 04, 2008
If you happen to be one of the few parents of high school students at Journey or even fewer high school students who read my blog, then I have good news for you.
WE RE-WROTE THIS ENCOUNTER BLOG JUST FOR YOU.
- It now has a link to our calendar for the year.
- A weekly survey we'll tally the results on every weekend.
- The latest updated info you will want to know.
- And much much more
Wednesday, September 03, 2008
This morning I found out that my last remaining grand parent, Grandma Delma, had passed away while sleeping. She is my mom's mom and was the last of that generation for me. She would have been 86 on December 3. (born 1922!)
Today was both sad and happy. I was happy that my grandma was no longer trapped in an aging earthly tent, but sad that the memories with her physical presence have come to an end. It was hard watching my kids wrestle with their first close family death this morning. I was sad to see her go and happy she lived so long and shared so much with me.
On the memory note, I have lots to celebrate. I know you should not play favorites, but as grandparents go, I think my Grandma Delma was the most influencial on my life. Here's both the impact she had on me and what I'll miss the most. If you never knew my grandma, then let me introduce you. If you did, please enjoy the walk down memory lane with me.
LIVE GENEROUSLY, FOR I WILL MISS HER GENEROSITY.
- If my grandma was anything, it was generous. She put several of her grand children through college both in tuition and providing room and board. She gave financially until the day she died for causes she believed in. Her well earned pension checks allowed her to provide for not just her own aging needs, but to bless a lot of others, all the way up to her death. She did not hoard her time or her money, but spent them all liberally on many people beyond herself. She gave years and years and years of her life to teaching children and there are literally thousands upon thousands of readers in this world to whom they owe Delma Morton a great debt of gratitude. She eventually went onto teach other teachers at the college level and was always a well loved and treasured mentor. She even started her own line of books for early readers. That business never made her a ton of money, but it empowered her vision and her generosity.
- I cannot ever remember a time when there was not an envelope with $20 in it for me on my birthday and then some generous check at Christmas for our entire family. After I got married and had kids, they each got $20 for their birthdays too... like clockwork. I think I might have to lobby that our family start a birthday fund in honor of grandma. Maybe we can keep sending $20 to kids and grandkids for generations to come.... "Here's $20. Love Grandma Delma."
CAMP WITH YOUR FRIENDS AND FAMILY, FOR I WILL MISS CAMPING WITH GRANDMA.
- Grandma Delma loved camping. As a kid growing up, I spent at least 2 weeks every summer in the boyhood wilderness of camping and fishing in streams with my grandma, my sister, my 4 cousins, and my mom/dad. We have hiked and fished and cooked and sang campfire songs and experienced so many things together. I could blog for the next 3 weeks straight on nothing but stories of experiences in a tent and a car and maybe a trailer with grandma. I can count on one hand (with several fingers left over) the number of summers I have missed camping at Richardson's Grove camp ground with my grandma from the age of 2 to 34. All the way up to the end, she insisted on joining us for camping anytime we were there. As I talked with my mom this morning, she said we'd have at least one more family reunion for grandma, cuz we're gonna leave her ashes there. I can think of no better place than camping at Richardson's Grove for her body to rest. I'm sure she would spread them there herself if she could.
- I will camp for the rest of my life and I will have a smore while poking the fire in some fashion that will annoy my father in honor of my grandma. This I decree.
GOOD COOKING IS TO BE CELEBRATED, FOR I WILL MISS MY GRANDMA'S COOKING.
- My grandma cooked breakfast and dinner for my grandpa every day of their married life I think. It's a good thing he died first, for he would have likely starved to death.
- She baked and cooked everything she could from scratch for decades on end. I never remember a time growing up where we did not have a pantry full of gradma's canned jam and jellies, canned tuna, smoked salmon, peaches, green beans, apples, apple sauce, plums, or something else. In college I had her teach me to can tuna, in the hopes that I could keep the tradition alive. I have some catching up to do if that is going to be true though.
- I remember picking berries with her in alleys and hillsides and watching her peel apples by the bucket full in her kitchen or when camping in preparation for a fresh pie. I was always amazed at how she could do that so fast and effortlessly while us kids just clamored around waiting for the scraps to steal.
- I once even remade the wooden handle for her on a kitchen paring kife she had sharpened and used so many times that the wooden handle was all but gone and the blade was nothing but a piece of tin. I offered to buy her a new one but she insisted on keeping that one, so I made her a new handle for it. I really wish I still had that knife, but I'm sure it was tossed by someone at some point in the past decade.
EAT ICECREAM WITH ANY AND EVERY MEAL SOMEONE WILL LET YOU, FOR I WILL MISS EATING ICE CREAM WITH MY GRANDMA.
- My grandma loved ice cream... read LOVED ICE CREAM! She would eat it with you, sneak it with you, bitch at you if you were out of it, pull over and stop to buy some on a long drive, walk to the store to get it daily while camping, and the list could go on. I think some morning this week I just might have to go get a cup of black coffee, a piece of pie and some ice cream and enjoy a breakfast for my grandma. If there is no ice cream in heaven, God might have a problem :)
WORK HARD AT WHAT YOU LOVE, FOR MY GRANDMA LEFT ME A GREAT EXAMPLE OF A WORK ETHIC THAT IS HARD TO FIND TODAY.
- My kids will mostly remember a woman who had worked so hard she believed she had earned some years on her butt. Towards the end, getting grandma to go for a walk required a lot of tugging, cuz she would much rather have sat down and done a word search in her easy chair than have walked to the bathroom.
- But that's not the grandma I grew up with. The grandma I grew up with could work your butt off. She was tireless with yardwork and always had a beautiful garden. She woke up early and stayed up late, long after grandpa had gone to bed. She would come to our house and instead of expecting to be entertained, she expected to help. My grandma taught me by example that if you want something in life, you don't wait around for someone to just hand it to you, you work hard for it. She grew up in an Iowa farm with traditional values and an old school work ethic she honed through the Great Depression and teaching in a one room school house.
- Truth be told, she probably sprinted a little too fast at the beginning and ran out of steam at the end. She kinda "walked" the last 5 years of her life. But the other side of that coin is she earned that final few laps of coasting by the sweat on her brow. I know of few people who could have kept up with my grandma's drive for about 90% of her life span.
AND FINALLY, A FEW PICTURES. I don't have a lot on my computer since most of my memories are long before the days of the digital camera, but here's a few I have held onto from the digital age.
OUR GIFT TO OUR PARENTS FOR LAST CHRISTMAS. A "FINAL" PHOTO SHOOT BEFORE THE CRAWFORDS HEADED TO UGANDA.
THREE GENERATIONS IN DECEMBER 2007. WOULD HAVE BEEN FOUR GENERATIONS, BUT MY FAMILY HAS ONLY BOY GRAND CHILDREN!
GRANDMA AND TJ EATING ICE CREAM AT FENTONS IN BERKELEY. YEP, THEY FINISHED THE WHOLE THING!
JUST A NICE SMILE AT CHERYL'S HOUSE.
CAMPING AT RICHARDSON'S GROVE. PROBABLY WISHING SHE COULD GET UP AND POKE THE FIRE.
AT LEGO LAND WITH OUR FAMILY, PICTURED HERE WITH SHANNON.
ENJOYING ONE OF WHAT BECAME HUNDREDS OF WORD SEARCHES IN THE LAST FEW YEARS.
Grandma Delma. Thank you. You are loved and you will be missed. I'll meet you in heaven in the redwoods. I'm sure God has those there.
Monday, September 01, 2008
Today we celebrated Jake's Birthday. Technically it is tomorrow, but today was a day of no school and 6 years ago, when Jake entered our world, Shannon was redefining "labor day" for our family and bringing us Jake. So labor day in our family is Jake Day.
Life has never been boring since. The kid is a nut.
All he wanted for his birthday was a bike. So his grandparents pitched in and bought him a new bike which we broke in today on our favorite family bonding time- a bike ride up the coast from mission to PB. We had some lunch at the Pita Pit and then iced mochas at this little coffee shop around the corner. (2 more family favorites)
Then later that night we all crashed Chuck E. Cheese for a party. I'll admit, not my favorite idea for a party for the boy, but the 6 year old and his buddies didn't seem to care. I think next year though I'm gonna have to step it up and have a big ol boy sleep over with bikes and jumps and water guns or something.
Anyway, it was quite the day.
I am blessed. Thank you God for my boys. Thank you for Jake.