King David

This summer I decided to preach about King David. I don't think I've ever preached from these stories before. There are some difficulties (like God telling the kings to kill everyone in the countries they invade) but it is such a huge story in the Old Testament, they are interesting to explore.

Yesterday I preached about David's anointing, from 1 Samuel 16. In my sermon I mentioned Susan Boyle's first performance on "Britain's Got Talent". Here she is singing "I Dreamed a Dream." (The point was that appearances aren't always what matters. Susan Boyle showed the world that pretty well.)

I also watched Richard Gere's King David movie, which is surprisingly close to the scripture. It makes the difficulties of the text quite clear, like the commands to kill the women and children of opposing nations, and the prophet being the only one to ever speak for God. We would think that dangerous, now, that only one person could speak for God and no one, not even those designated as having the "heart of God," like David, could decide what God said. But I did like the last line, which is not biblical, when David says to Solomon, "Listen to your heart. That is where God speaks, and not always through the prophets."


Reflections on Tour

Moments on the youth trip last week:

*Three times the youth had to roll off the bus, set up, change costumes, and perform with about half an hour transition time. (We had some trouble with timing our travel.) They didn't complain, and they performed well. The show just kept getting better.

*While sitting around eating Chinese food with someone's iPod on speakers Journey's "Don't Stop Believing" came on and suddenly everyone in the room was singing it (me included) complete with all the riffs and air guitar. (Journey? Where did that come from?)

*We got on and off the El several times with 27 youth and did not lose anyone. And we did not get lost until we were two blocks from our church at 10 p.m. at a five corner intersection when suddenly my interior GPS called it quits and I had no idea where we were.

*We learned about homeless youth in the Lakeview area of Chicago. The youth were creative and resilient as they spoke about trying to figure out what they would do if they were homeless. I hope they never have to figure it out.

*Parking the bus was amazingly hard, and we got so lucky. Several adults spent the day before we left trying to find a parking place for the big yellow machine with the attached trailer. I finally got permission from the Masonic Hospital in Lincoln Park to park the bus on their construction site. It worked perfectly. I need to send them a thank you note.

*The youth played a game called "Wah" that involved shouting and coordinated rhythms around a circle. I can almost play it. They would play it anywhere, even on a downtown corner of Chicago. We have it on video to prove it.

*No one got sick on the trip. We talked about canceling it because a few people were recovering from the flu ("the" flu, probably) and everyone had been exposed. But we made up our list of precautions and options and contingencies and left and no one got sick.

*We got an amazing amount of work done on the Habitat House. We painted the entire interior of the house, fitted in new electrical outlets, painted two tool sheds, framed a play area, and landscaped one yard. And the youth said they enjoyed the work.

*The Senior Testimonies were moving. Everyone brought in kleenex, so I should have guessed. Some started crying before they even spoke of their years with the Followers, and their love of the youth group, and their hope that future youth will continue to care for one another as they have experienced care.

*The chaperones were amazingly patient. The trip was nine days with no alone time, difficult sleeping conditions, only occasional good coffee, long rides and hard work. They are dedicated adults and parents, generous and kind to all the youth and to one another.

*I got a hard time for not crying at the Senior Testimonies. But the next day when the youth performed their show, "On the Eve of Eden," the tears finally came. I cried for about ten minutes while a few of the seniors grinned at me. The tears came because the "Eve" character was talking about her decision to bite the apple ("the" apple, you know) and her fear that she would not be able to handle the future, along with her desire to know what the future holds for her. Suddenly it hit me -- all the seniors, who have been working on this play about Adam and Eve for months, are about the bite the apple, to leave the paradise of this loving community, to enter the larger world. And so the tears came as I thought of them leaving, and of all that awaits them.


Pranked by the Pastor

We are working at a Habitat site in Whitestown, Indiana this week, but they can't hold 27 youth so we are rotating 1/3 of the youth out each day. Today was my day off with 9 youth. I let them sleep in and then took them downtown to a mall and a movie.

Then I pulled my prank.

The Followers have a tradition of pranking during their summer trip. I came down really hard on them the second day about the limitations of pranking (like not while people are sleeping...a new rule for them.) I figured I was going to have to pull a prank so they knew I wasn't a total jerk about the whole thing, but that I just want some sensible boundaries on the tradition.

So I asked my cohort today to help me. We went to the grocery store and then to Walgreens and I came back to the church with a bandaged arm in a sling. I whispered the truth to the adults right away and the older boys swear they never believed it, but for about 3 hours many of the youth bought it. And they were very, very sweet to me, which made me feel terribly guilty.

So then I switched arms, and a few of them figured it out. Then I played Ultimate Frisbee, and a few of them still weren't sure. I think by now they all have it.

It's been, oh, 30 years since I did anything like this. I sort of forget how, and I hate lying! And to see how compassionate the kids are, and know I am putting them on...oh, what a tangled web and all. I'd better not get hurt the rest of the trip or they'll never believe it! But I guess I wanted to understand the prank thing better and not just stand crabbily outside of it.

Of course the danger is that now we have three days left and I've asked for it. Stay tuned...


so far...

We are at Vida Nueva UMC in Indianapolis, settling in. The bus is off to get groceries, and then we will have supper and bed. Tomorrow we make the switch from performing to working. We will be working with Helping Hands and Habitat for Humanity in a commuity north of here a ways.

There isn't enough space at the worksite for all of us so 1/3 of us will be having a lay-low/sighteeing day, rotating each of the next three days.

We have been behind schedule all day today, but everything has worked out well anyway. The Followers performed their show at a camp in Indiana today for over 100 campers. It was a good performance, even though everyone was tired and hungry and we had to load up in the pouring rain and then unhook the trailer and turn the bus around.

The youth have been in pretty good spirits no matter what has happened. They find amusement easily wherever we are. We are waiting on devotions and supper right now and everyone is pretty happily engaged. There are two card games going on right now and a bb game downstairs and several groups chatting in various corners. I think I'm crabbier than all of them -- I am tired. I'm hoping for closer to 8 hours of sleep tonight. (A girl can dream...)

Our day in Chicago went well. We got 27 youth on and off the el several times and didn't lose anyone. We divided into several groups (1 chaperone and a handful of youth) and each went our way around downtown. My group enjoyed stuffed pizza then wandered around State Street, Michigan Avenue, and Millenium Park. We say Ellen DeGeneres yesterday (I didn't have my camera out of my bag so I missed gtting her picture.)

After our adventures downtown we went to the Night Ministry in the Lakeview neighborhood and learned about homeless youth. Evidently the neighborhood is home to a lot of homeless youth, partly because it is welcoming to glbt youth. We walked around the neighborhood in small groups with a chaperone and made observations about how we might try to manage being homeless: where could we go to the bathroom, to sleep, where could we get food, what would we do all day. It was eye-opening. Then we rode the el back to the church and ended the night with a labyrinth walk (this after about 8 miles on foot) and devotions.

Each performance has gone well. Everything I have worried about has pretty much worked out. We were worried last week about the youth that were sick, wondering if we were going to have an epidemic of H1N1 on this trip. So far, no one is sick.

I'm too tired to say anything clever. Let me just say all is well, and I'll try to put up some pictures soon.


Anchors Away

I'm leaving with 27 youth and several adults tomorrow for the summer Tour/Mission Trip. I'm excited to be with the group and we have a great schedule lined up. The hardest part is leaving my little boys for nine days. Sleeping on the floor for eight nights comes a distant second for hardest part. (And now that I've made that joke about the hard floor, let me add for my husband who has pointed out three times now that I didn't mention him that, of course, being away means being away from him as well, which has made traveling difficult for me for, in about 2 more weeks, 14 years now.)

I didn't go away very much the first several years of motherhood, three nights at Annual Conference and the occasional continuing education event. But they are nine and almost six, and when I did this last year we got through it okay.

One thing I do is prepare a little gift bag for each day I am gone, mostly small gifts with one or two larger ones. The boys remember this and have been asking me which days they get one, when it starts, and have I gotten everything I need for the bags yet? Zane asked if they got a bag for the day I came home and I said no. "Oh, you are the gift that day," he said. He is smooth.

And last night after an ice cream trip to Izzy's we had a sleepover on the living room floor (as if I won't have enough floor sleeping), me in the middle, Zane and Theo on each side grunting and stealing the blankets, the cats wandering about on top of us, and the dog checking on us each time we moved around too much. Miraculously we did get some sleep.

We may have some fussing yet today, all of us, but I think we're ready. It is strange to live life with this powerful tether -- wherever I am, whatever I am doing, there are these boys (big and small) anchoring me to a particular spot, which is wherever they happen to be.


Last Day of School 2009

they are getting taller, as they will...

here is 9.09...


Grand Old Days

After church today I took the boys to Grand Old Days, a local, annual street fair. (We always miss the parade -- it is right during worship.) The kid's section is a few blocks from our house so we headed over this chilly, damp afternoon.

Zane likes the games, so he tosses balls and bean bags and collects pockets full of cheap toys. He had his fingers stuck most of the afternoon.

Theo prefers the physical activities, so he bounced and jumped and went down slides.

The best part for him was when some of the youth from church showed up and went down the slide with him. They had to go back up to rescue his socks, which he inexplicably removed at the top.

Cheese curds for one and ice cream for another filled out the afternoon. We dragged home, slowly.


To tweet

OK, so the blog has been slow. Could I have run out of things to say after 635 posts in 3 years? Have I been too busy? It isn't Facebook, I promise.

Well, maybe just a pause.

Anyway, I have signed up for Twitter -- I don't intend to Twitter regularly, but it seems the easiest way for me to update the congregation from my phone while on the road with the Followers (my youth group) next week. I may or may not have a laptop with me to upload pictures but I will be able to post 140 character updates on the latest adventure on the singing/building trip to Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana and Iowa.

You can find it there on the right side of the screen. You can sign up to follow it -- I don't understand that yet. I'll be testing to make sure it works but I'll be with 27 tech-savvy teenagers who will know how this works. (I said, "electronics policy" to them last night and they gasped!)