Monday, September 29, 2008

The Wedding

Jason and Adrienne's wedding was beautiful. The weather was beautiful (it was outdoors), the bride was beautiful. The groom was so sharp and handsome. The flowers were beautiful....cute idea: cut out the top of a pumpkin, carve out the insides, and place a pot of mums inside. It was really pretty!

Abigail did great in her flower girl role. She got to the end of the aisle and stood there, dropping rose petals one by one. When she saw the bride starting to come, she continued around the guests and back up the hill she had walked down, dropping every petal until they were gone. I'm sure she would have just kept going to the parking lot had Mommy not intercepted her!

It was a pretty perfect day for a brother's wedding. Here are a few pictures to enjoy!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

And the Flower Girl Will Wear White

This weekend has been in the making for over two years now. When Paul and I still lived in Muncie, and Abigail was a bald and squishy little baby, we were going to Pizza Hut after move-in time with some of our college students from our campus ministry. And I got a phone call....

It was from my older brother, Jason, saying that he had proposed to Adrienne. It was the day we thought would never come that we kind of all saw coming.

I just love my brother, and have always had a good relationship with him. Sure, we had our moments as any brother and sister do, but overall, we had a pretty good gig growing up. I remember when he went to college, a whole half an hour away from home, and I was a sophomore in high school. I think we talked on the phone every day for his first week at school. I missed him more than I wanted to let on at the time.

Don't get me wrong...I got used to the single bathroom pretty fast. But the first week was lonely.

So, fast forward ten-plus years. Jason proposed. She said yes. They set a date. They reset a date. That date has finally come, this Saturday.

And Abigail will be their flower girl. She doesn't really know what a flower girl is or does, but she knows she gets to wear a "princess" dress and carry a basket and throw flowers on the ground. I don't think she knows people will be watching her do it. But she is quite a hot dog most of the time, and has never much minded an audience, so I'm not at all worried.

We were prepping her over Labor Day weekend, saying that she would throw flowers. Uncle Jason told her, "Or you can throw cream pies at everybody." And has she forgotten that mental image? No. Every time we say she will be a flower girl, she whispers in my ear, "But I don't want to throw pies."

I'm sure she will be beautiful and dainty, and do everything as instructed. And we'll pray that a day possibly without naptime will not ensue in mid-aisle meltdown.

I think it will be a wonderful weekend, and hopefully will have pictures to post later!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Writing from Nigeria

Apparently, I have super-human powers to be at church practicing our Christmas cantata last night and then flew off to Nigeria in the middle of the night, only to be robbed at my hotel. Wouldn't you know it? The one time I FINALLY get to go by myself to that dreamy countryside of Nigeria, and someone robs me blind. Takes all my money. Luckily, I had my entire email address book to send emails to asking for money to be wired to me via Western Union.

Lucky me. Lucky you.

Oh, and then I CHANGED my password to my email account, because why in the world would I want to be able to access my email while I'm on another continent? That's just absurd.

I mean, when Mama leaves the country, she's going undercover.

And THEN, as if changing my password wasn't enough, I went ahead and changed my security questions to ones that I don't know the answer to, because if I did regain any sanity and want to get a new password to be able to access my account, I want to cover my bases against myself and make sure I don't know the answers to the questions that would enable to do just that.

I'm getting smarter. I must make a good spy. Against myself.

So, if you got an email from me early this morning, and it asked you for money, obviously DON'T SEND ME ANY. I know y'all are super-smart, more than myself. Because I guess when I opened my email the last couple of times and saw that my "new" messages had already been opened, it was just weird enough for me to go, "Huh. That's weird. I haven't read those emails." But weird enough to change my password? Oh, no. Not that weird.

Just so I can cover my bases (in case I am ever running for Vice President, ie Sarah Palin, and get hacked into again as she did last week), let me be very clear. I have never been to Nigeria. I don't have any plans to go any time soon. My family can vouch for where I have been the last 24 hours, and the last thousands of hours before that. Don't send me money. Keep it for yourself.

Really. Get a pedicure. Go out to lunch. Get that new fall skirt that you thought was cute.

But don't send it to me in Nigeria. Because I won't get it.

Oh, but you can ask to see my possibly-broken toe that I jammed squarely into the wall while I was on my phone this morning in a frenzy finding out that my email account got hacked into. That made me feel so much better.

Here is to a happier ILLINOIS!!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Bad dreams, early mornings

Thanks again to Paul's gall bladder, we had to wake up at what I can only consider the crack of "never in my life." See, all of these Indiana doctors think they are doing us a grand favor by getting us the first appointment of the day, but then they don't consider that we are on IL time, so their 8:00 appointment becomes a 7:00 appointment to us, making us leave by 6:30, making us get up by 5:45.

I need to be more assertive with boundaries.

So Paul and I got up insanely early AGAIN and dear Saint Lori came to our house at 6:30 AGAIN to stay with Abigail. Which all would have been okay if I didn't have a night of bad dreams last night that kept me tossing and turning in a state of semi-consciousness all night.

I'd try to explain the dream, but it just sounds silly. You know those dreams that are so real to you, so scary, so vivid, and then when you try to tell someone how scary it is, you realize you sound like this:
My dream last night consisted of an unknown guy, I think his name was Seth, coming to our house with some of our BCM students. We looked him up suspiciously on the internet before he came (yeah, as we do with any unknown person who drops by our house) and found out he was actually an alien who sucks the life out of cats.
I know, right?
So, second he walks in the house, I am on instant edge because I know he is at some point during the weekend going to try to suck the life out of Cammie. And whereas in Paul's dream, he probably would have gladly handed her over for the taking, my dream was much more protective. I get into it with Seth. He turns on me, holding Cammie in his hands, kind of like at the end of the movie Signs where the scary Alien is holding the asthmatic kid's body in his arms and trying to suck the life out of it. It all felt so.....real. And scary. Really scary.

I know, it all sounds silly, and now that I type it, it just sounds like Signs, except Cammie was the kid and I was, I can only assume, Joaquin Phoenix about to grab a baseball bat and slam glasses of water all over the thing to melt it.

But I was praying Jesus into my dreams, people. It was scary.

All I can think to blame it on is TV. You see, since Paul has been recovering from surgery and we have been pretty much home all week, we have been watching unnatural amounts of television. Way more than I usually watch on a normal daily basis. And I can only assume all of these images bombarding me throughout the day have entered into my subconscious and made me go a little whacky, and restless.

Because the sleep was totally sub-par, as you can imagine. I woke up this morning all tight through my shoulders and neck, and my jaw hurt like crazy from being all clenched. Man, the mind is really crazy in the way it works.

So, there it all is on the table. Feel free to comment about what crazy dreams you have had. I've subjected myself to being teased relentlessly for caring at all if someone sucked the life out of my cat.

I mean, my skin and my furniture both have scars from the little rat.

But, what can I say? I guess I love her, really love her. In my subconscious mind anyway.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Letter to Paul's Gall Bladder

Dear Paul's Gall Bladder,
You have made this an interesting week. You were taken out on Tuesday, along with having a hernia repaired and a liver biopsy. Thankfully, everything came out okay, got repaired okay, and passed the tests okay. Since then, you have given my sweet husband quite a run. He has been tired, very sore, and pretty much lying on the couch all week. You've given me the opportunity to play nurse, although not as well as I'm sure he would like. I am good about keeping up with his pain meds and getting him water and ice packs. Other than that, I don't think he realized how much I like to check my email during the day.
You've ensured that we have watched every news show about Sarah Palin, every Hardball, every bit of political coverage. You've even gotten him to watch a little bit of Project Runway with me, and I love when he comments on it and does Tim Gunn impersonations.
You've helped Abigail be a bit on the snippy side, as we have not had many opportunities to go anywhere or get out of the house. Although, she has had more outings than we have, thanks to our sweet friend, Lori.
You've also seen to it that I didn't have to cook at least two meals this week, as yummy things have been brought to our house by friends from church. I have to give you bonus points for that, Gall Bladder, as I am always down with not cooking.
Thanks for getting out of Paul before things got ugly. You held in there really well and didn't give him any attacks (which is why we were so surprised when you needed to come out). Thanks for being nice to him.
As for you, hernia, I'm not sure I can speak so kindly to you, so I'll just close on a good note.
Thanks, gall bladder. You'll be missed.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Festivals Warm My Heart

There are many things I love about Fall. It is my favorite season, just barely edging out those first few warm weeks of Spring when you are going a little nutty from all of the cold weather. Officially, in my heart, Fall is mid-October. Yes, I know it starts at the end of September, but I never notice that crisp chilly air or changing leaves until mid-October, when my soul starts to sing...literally, it has some little ditty about Autumn that feels like it is going to burst out of me like a kid bursting through a pile of fallen leaves. Wow, how's that for an Autumn simile? My English major skillz have not failed me yet.

I love the turnover of clothes, from summer shorts to jeans and long-sleeves. I love that first day you feel like you may need a jacket, because it's a tad chilly. I love wanting a cup of coffee in the morning, not because I need the a.m. jolt, but because I'm cold and want to be warmed up from the inside out. I love seeing Abigail in new Fall duds, because nothing is quite as exhilarating as seeing your little precious toddler in an entirely new wardrobe. Even if they are 90% hand-me-downs from cousins and friends, you are a little jealous that every three months they get all new clothes and don't have to wear the same bunch from last year. And the last ten years. I love gearing up for the holidays. It's a fine don't want to jump into winter too soon, because in this neck of the woods, winter is LONG. But you start thinking about what your kid's Halloween costume will be, and then where Thanksgiving will be held, and my dad's fried turkey (it are heavenly), and how much fun December is.

But I'll slow that dance down, because we're gabbin' about Fall here.

Oh, and I love pumpkin ANYTHING. Pie, ice cream, bread, butter, Pumpkin Pie Crunch. This blog isn't really about PPC, and my friend Elizabeth at Little Woman, Big Family is more than ready to share all of our personal demon of addiction to Pumpkin Pie Crunch. So I won't go there.

Festivals, though, are really where my heart is in the Autumn months. I absolutely, wholeheartedly adore festivals. There is something about festivals and fall that together make an unstoppable duo. So, I will outline a few of my favorites.

1. The Greek Fest. This one is not "local" to us state-liners, but our fam attended Indianapolis' Greek Fest last night. We went a couple of years ago, as it is always the weekend nearest my brother's birthday. He and Adrienne invited us last time, for Jason's 30th birthday, and invited us last night to celebrate his 32nd. They have people in authentic Greek garb, doing authentic Greek dances, playing authentic Greek music. We ate, from anything I know of Greek food, authentic Greek food. Hummus, pita bread, dolmas, tzatziki sauce, gyros, lamb, some other stuff I don't know the name of, baklava and other varieties of perfect Greek pastries. Abigail danced in circles with the Greekest of the Greeks, and we had a wonderful time. The air was chilly and perfect last night. Opa!

2. Marshall Autumn Fest. This is our local little festival, and last year was our first one after moving here. I love this festival. It helps that we live a block and a half from the town square, so all of the yummiest foods are a short walk away, and we can hear the evening shows playing from the bandstand through our bedroom window. It's almost like the festival follows us home. Last year, I had a turkey leg, a ribeye sandwich, ice cream, lemon shake-up, and not all in one sitting. There is a parade on Saturday morning, and we get to line up our chairs in front of the church and wave to people we really know on almost every float. It is small town at it's finest.

3. The Honeybee Festival. I had to give this one a shout-out even though I haven't been to it in over ten years. The Honeybee Festival is in Paris, where I grew up, and is only about fifteen minutes up the road from where we live now. So I do hope to make it back at some point. It includes all of the yummy food goodness of the Autumn Fest, and has the parade, too. People used to say that the town actually released thousands of honeybees just for the festival. I believed that when I was little, but now I picture the entire town of Paris walking around with their Epi-pens in their pockets and purses, ready to fend off anaphylactic shock. I think the City of Paris would have been sued over medical bills right now if that were really the case. But the festival did bring out the little suckers, that's for sure.

4. The Covered Bridge Festival. This is the granddaddy of all festivals. It is the behemoth. The festival to stomp all others. It is a TEN-DAY long festival in Indiana, just north of Terre Haute. It is in three different tiny towns, Mansfield, Bridgeton, and Rockville, and it brings a cool million visitors every year. I worked with my dad at the Rockville festival for a couple of years a few years back. We worked for a guy who had a booth that made spiral-cut fried potatoes and pork rinds. It was really hard work, but who could complain when this was your full day...
Breakfast: Biscuits and gravy or cinnamon roll from one booth.
Mid-morning snack: Corn Fritters with honey butter or a fried potato.
Lunch: Cheddar Broccoli soup in a bread bowl or ham and beans with cornbread.
Afternoon snack: Pumpkin ice cream cone or pumpkin roll.
Dinner: Take home five turkey legs from the guy's booth next to ours. They were free because we bartered with our fried potatoes.
The food alone was worth working that festival, but getting paid about 100 bucks a day wasn't bad either. Plus, there were some guys from Ecuador behind us that had a booth that sold that reedy-flute music that they play and these cute fuzzy scarves. And I bartered....two fuzzy scarves for a turkey leg and a plate of potatoes. Not a bad deal.

As you can see, the food of the festivals is my main attraction. Whose isn't? But I love just going to them. Seeing the people. Seeing the people's dogs who are always along for the ride. Seeing the high school marching band in the parade. Seeing crafts that you never see in a store. Seeing celebrations of things, like honeybees or blueberries or pigs (yes, I went to the Tipton Pork Festival once, too), that you just don't see celebrated on a regular basis.

The countdown is on, my friends. Greek Fest down, at least three more to go.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

10-ish Years

This past weekend was one that was 10 years in the making. Well, "ish". I was part of Campus Crusade for Christ in college, and there was a huge influx of students that all started coming right around the same time. Crusade at ISU was different than at most other schools. We did not have full-time staff and borrowed staff members from IU about every other week for a visit. Other than that, we were student-run, student-led. If we had a cookout, the students planned it. If we led Bible studies, the students led them. If we had a leadership meeting, there were no "big people" there. If we planned our weekly worship meeting, it was up to us. It was very different than what most schools would consider to be the "normal" Crusade experience. We varied in numbers from 30 at our weekly meeting, up to about 80 at one point. Compare this to when Paul and I worked at Ball State and the Crusade there averaged 400-500 students a week, with 700-800 involved overall. It was different, that's all I'm saying.

The good thing is that I feel it raised up leaders among us as most ministries don't really have the opportunity to do. When there are one or two "directors" or "staff" or "big people" hanging around, the students tend to let them run the show and make the big decisions. We did not have that luxury. It was a real time of spiritual growth for most of us, when we took ownership of our own faith. It was also a time to see what we were made of, because it was kind of up to us, with God's help of course, to make sure things got done.

Many of us have stayed close. We were all on a rotation of being in each other's weddings, have all had baby showers, and have generally kept in touch very well. We know that no matter what else is going on, we are going to our friends' Karen and Trevor's house for New Year's Eve. We have something special as a group, when many people lose touch after graduating college and moving on.

So, we figured it was about ten years since we had all started going to Crusade (1998)....not since we graduated! Geez, how old do you think I am? I am just getting past my ten year high school reunion! In honor of that, we planned a reunion. We had a get-together on Friday night at our house, a cookout on Saturday afternoon, and a meeting just like our college ones on Saturday night. We had the same speaker, the same worship team, the same songs.

I was on the worship team in college, and got to sing with them again this weekend. There is so much talent among those people. They all play the instruments and figure out the rhythm and key and all that stuff. I just hold the mic and sing. Pretty easy on my part. But Saturday night, standing at the front of Holmstedt 102 with that same group of talented musicians, singing songs I haven't sung in seven or eight years, looking out at the faces of all my friends who made such an impact in my life....folks, the emotion hit me like a tsunami. I had joked to a couple of my friends that they were probably placing bets on how long it would take me to start crying.

"7:32? Who had 7:32?"

But I couldn't help it. And for the record, my eyes were not the only ones shedding a few tears. God did something big in my heart over those college years. And I know He did in the hearts of my friends. And to see them all now, still loving each other, still loving was a beautiful thing. Don't worry, it wasn't an ugly cry or anything. Just the cry of people who are with friends who changed them, singing to a God who changed them.

It's hard to believe I have known some of those friends for ten years now. Spring of '98 is when I met Paul for the first time. I won't start to tell you about his bad fashion sense and dyed blonde hair. He's improved over ten years, like a fine wine (with a little fashion help from his wife). God gave us all something so special there, and I was so blessed to share in that again, even if just for a couple of days. We always have New Years Eve to look forward to. But this reunion surpassed my high school one in ways I cannot even describe.

Well, we weren't all a drunken mess, for one.

And we weren't chillin' in the corner of the Legion with the same old cliques.

And we didn't have to go out on the front porch to escape the thick smog of cigarette smoke.

But enough comparisons! I just mean that it was deeper than that. It was deeper than who has gained weight and who has been the "most successful" and who has the smartest child. It was a reunion of people who love God and desire to see their friends still walking with God. It was a reunion of people who would rather share about their most recent mission trip than their most recent car trade. It was a reunion of people who could share some of their deep struggles with people who would pray for them.

It was something sweet and blessed. And lest I gush anymore, I'll just save it for my new memories.