Jan 29, 2013

"Volunteer Application Form"

I'm complaining here.  If you don't want negativity in your life skip this post.

I got an email a few days ago from the children's pastor at church that said if you attend this church and have a child in the children's ministry it is "expected" that you volunteer at least once a month somewhere in the children's or youth ministry at the church.
Fine.  I totally agree.  I understand that the ministry is run by volunteers and I have no problem volunteering.  I did think the word "expected" was a little harsh and it caught me off-guard but perhaps they need to use scare tactics to get volunteers to step up?
I emailed back saying I would volunteer and immediately received a response from the nursery director.  I was pretty excited because each time I walk past the baby room, I really want to go in and just snuggle someone else's little bundle of adorableness.  She asked me to meet her at the church so I could tour the facility, get the low down on the ministry and get an application.
Today was my appointment.  I got the tour.  I listened to the policies, asked my questions and then sat down for a 15 minute power point presentation that covered the ministry's goals, mission, etc. Then I was handed a 16 page application. One Six.
I am totally fine with fingerprinting and background check and I do appreciate their efforts to have a staff and volunteers who have been checked out by my local police department. But I'm going to be bold here and say this is ridiculous.

Top 3 things that irritated me:
1.  Addresses for the past 10 years.  Come on.  Is this for Top Secret security clearance?  Am I applying to work for NSA, CIA, FBI? Are there national secrets in the baby diapers?
2. Prior volunteer experience that relates to this position, complete with name and number of supervisor and dates of volunteering.  Good luck.  Almost everyone I know moves every 3 years and are no longer in that "supervisory" position.
3. References.  Someone you know well and have daily interaction with but not related to me or living with me.  Have fun with the international calls to Germany punks.  I'm sure the church has an international calling plan.  No?

I was irritated by page 3, I was flat out pissed by page 6, and I almost went crazy on page 10 when I had to write a summary of my "faith experience".  Good news though, I was invited to use a second sheet of paper if necessary.  I was really tempted to simply write "Matthew 7:1" and let them look up the verse.  "Do not judge or you too will be judged".  But I resisted.

Here is the deal.  They emailed me.  Declared that it was "expected" that I volunteer and then ask me to fill out an application as if they were doing me a favor by letting me spend an extra 1.5 hours at church twice a month, risking sickness because all those darn kids have snotty noses.

Maybe it isn't a big deal.  Maybe I'm just cranky because I didn't have time to eat lunch before the "meeting" today.  I believe it is important to ensure the safety and security of the kids but who really cares if I have ever had volunteer or paid experience rocking babies?  I obviously have done it at least twice and the kids survived or I wouldn't have got the email telling me to volunteer in the first place!

Just in case you were wondering: a cup of coffee plus a scoop of vanilla protein powder and a few ice cubes all blended up does not produce a frappuccino or anything remotely close.



Jan 28, 2013

Eloquence

I find it odd and yet rather frequent that I discover a truth in a two part series.  Sometimes it seems as though I saw part two before the first but it all sinks in I have a nice little clear message.

Yesterday in church we were extremely late and missed the whole first part of worship.  Thankfully we arrived just in time to hear one of the most beautiful songs.  Our music pastor is a songwriter, a very good song writer, and often busts out with a brand new song specifically for a Sunday morning message.  Crazy talented.  So yesterday the song's message was one I hadn't heard before.  I wish I had a link here to share it with you but that is the unfortunate part of last minute song-writing, it isn't recorded anywhere yet!  The song was about the how the cries of our heart being more beautiful than a sweet hallelujah. Some of the lines in the song were a woman fighting to live, a man begging not to die, cries of fear and pain, sorrow and loss.  I absolutely love this image of God being so moved when we finally cry out to Him in our time of need.  Not to say praises are not wonderful, but to be called on to be the healer, redeemer, comforter, friend that He wants to be to us must be such a sweet incense.

Today, as I was reading Ephesians 6, I came to verse 19 "pray also for me, that whenever I speak, wordy may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel" and I thought "man I wish I were so eloquent in my prayers".

Ah but what did I learn yesterday?  It isn't the eloquent words that really grip the heart of God, it is the ones that come straight out of my heart all blubbery and non-sensical.

Jan 27, 2013

Unfashionable

Yesterday was picture day for basketball.  I show up for the team photo but have no desire to buy the photo or any other photos.  I honestly am not a fan of weird sports photos.  Now, I do love a good football or baseball photo where the kid is actually on the field but the fake basketball ones, not so much.
Anyway, I bought a set of wallets so that I looked like I was supportive and so I could scan the photo and have it forever so as to prevent me from earning the horrible mother award.
Gabe was fine with the wallets.  Eli didn't want wallets, he wanted a photo dog tag.  How weird is it to walk around with a picture of yourself holding a basketball on a plastic tag around your neck?  Weird.  I don't care how old you are, it is unfashionable and not worth the $9 they were charging.
I told Eli I was pretty sure I could order him a dog tag from some other company for less and we could customize it to whatever we want.
He threw up the idea of a picture of him and the love of his life, Mary, but that seems a little inappropriate for 10 year olds.  So, I suggested words that mean something to him or maybe a saying.
He said "oh I know exactly what it should say, 2 Timothy 2:15".
I asked "why?" He responded by quoting the verse "Study to show yourself approved unto God, a workman that needs not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth".
He said wearing the dog tag with this verse reference will remind him not to be ashamed for being a follower of Christ and knowing and walking in Truth.
Yes!  Much better than a weird picture of himself with a basketball.
Consider it done son!

Jan 26, 2013

Calm in a Storm

One on the kids on Eli's basketball team has brother that is a "special friend".  A few weeks ago at a game, a kid was taking out the ball - standing on the sidelines, and the special friend decided it was time for a hug.  He reached out and grabbed the kid and gave him the biggest hug ever imaginable....and wouldn't let go.  It was hilarious.
Tonight the special friend was not in a good mood.  He came in a little grumpy and then went high side when he was told to change seats.  Never in my life has the idea of "everyone move down one seat" been so traumatic.  I honestly don't know what this lady was thinking, but for some reason she deemed it more important for her family of 6 to sit together forcing everyone in the row to move, than to break up the family for one hour.  Clearly, she underestimated the effect this would have on our special friend.  Matt and I were both willing to just move somewhere else in order to not upset our friend but the family was already in motion, and all hell broke loose.
The special friend went violent.  He was screaming, flailing, punching, hitting throwing chairs....I can't really explain just how chaotic the scene was.  A few moments before the game was to start there seemed to be no calm in sight.  Players were getting antsy, fans were shifting uncomfortably, and I was praying for peace to come over him.
Finally, the players hit the court, the excitement of the game filled the gym, and the episode finally came to an end.  The parents found their glasses, chairs and other objects that had gone flying and settled in to watch the game.
I have never been more in awe of parents than I was tonight.
In all this chaos, mom and dad were quietly, calmly, attempting to restrain him while defending themselves.  I think everyone in the room wanted them to just take him home.  But they resisted the glares and whispers of the crowd and continued their battle.  The special friend didn't want to be at the game, and if they took him out, he wins and his brother doesn't get the support of his family.  But they stayed.
As I saw the battle, I saw mom and dad forcibly grabbing their son, my heart broke for them.  As parents we want to cuddle our kids not physically fight them.  Their manner in dealing with him was proof that they had a lot of experience with these battles.  I wondered just how often they find themselves in this situation.
While their battle tonight was physical, it is similar to the battle that many parents today are having with their kids.  The kids want to do something, the parents don't want them to and social pressure is for them to give in to the kids' desires.  The glaring eyes of the other parents at school is nearly enough pressure to just give in.
The good parents, the courageous parents will stay and fight.  They will grab hold of their kids and show them they love them in the most difficult ways.  About 12 years ago I was riding in the car with my niece and my sister.  My niece wanted to listen to "her" music.  I think my sister felt bad for subjecting me to the playlist of Barney and Wee Sing, so she told her "no".  My niece started whining and crying.  Finally my sister said to her "what do you think whining is going to get you?"  and in the tiniest little Cindy Loo Who voice she said "my music?" I may or may not have stifled my laugh.
The point is good parents do what they know in their heart is right, not what everyone else or their kid thinks they should do.
I wanted to cry tonight, but I didn't.  Instead I sat back and just prayed that God would bless these amazing people who have chosen to adopt, love, and care for multiple special needs kids.

Jan 25, 2013

Last Friday, Ken, a man who Matt worked with when we were stationed in Fort Campbell, was in a car accident in Alabama.  The crash was bad enough that he suffered serious head trauma that sent him to the ICU in a coma. 
Within a day or two following the crash word spread around Facebook of Ken's situation and his Army family and friends were begging for a way to help him and his wife.  Two days later over $7000 had been raised from people who knew Ken or his wife.  I was so proud of our Lancer family.  Many of the people who contributed to the fundraiser were former soldiers from the unit Matt and Ken served with in Iraq back in 2003.  There were also a handful of donations that came in as "friend of...." and listed the name of a former Lancer.  People who didn't know Ken, but knew people who knew him and wanted to help. The prayers, love, and financial support from all over the world was so amazing to see.  And I only saw the public notes and donations, I'm sure it was only half of what was actually given. Seeing friends and family rally together was so moving.  The positive power of social media was awesome!
Ken was fighting for his life.  Throughout the week his wife was posting updates on his status and giving friends and family details on how they could specifically help.   There wasn't an update yesterday, so when I woke up this morning I quickly found the site with hopes of reading about more times he turned his head toward his wife, or moved when the doctor told him to.  Instead I read the news that his battle came to an end, Ken died this morning.  Although I cannot imagine how difficult this past week has been for his parents and wife, I suppose the week proved to be a time that they were able to see him, tell him how much they love him, and say goodbye.
For some reason, in my head, aviators die in helicopter crashes - not car accidents.  Statistically, cars are far more dangerous than helicopters but in reality, after being in 3 units that have suffered helicopter crashes and knowing fallen aviators, it just seems far more likely that our friends will die at work training or fighting...flying.  This is perhaps what makes Ken's death seem so unbelievable.  We are connected in some way to a few dozen soldiers who have died in a helicopter accident, but up until now not a single friend has died from anything else.
As the wife of an aviator, I often find myself on high alert when Matt is flying.  I typically know his flight schedule and, whether it is conscious or not, I eagerly await a phone call when he is back on the ground.  Under normal road conditions I never call to make sure he drove to work safely or to a friend's house.  It is a little humorous to me that I think of the only threat to his life as being a Blackhawk.  It is probably more likely that he will trip over his underwear at 98 and break a hip.
Ken died in Dothan, Alabama in a car accident at the age of 31.  He was a soldier, a veteran of both the  Iraq and Afghanistan wars, he was a beloved husband and a daddy to two young boys, he was a son, brother, and friend.  We pray for his sweet wife and their two kids as they try to grasp what has just happened.  I pray that one day she will again be full of joy, hope, and always surrounded by love.

Jan 24, 2013

Good News Bad News

Good news!  I didn't fall off the face of the earth, get sick, lose my ability to type or have my computer die.  So technically I am available to blog something so amazing that it will indeed change your life.
Bad news! I really don't have anything awesome in my head to blog about.

I am a little excited for January to be over.  The only thing really exciting that happens in January is our anniversary weekend.  Other than that it is: put away all the Christmas stuff and realize your house is super empty without it, send kids back to school, try not to slip on the icy sidewalks, try not to crumble under the pressure of New Year's resolutions and forget a 1000 times to write 2013 instead of 2012.

I think I have mentioned before that I have post-Christmas depression.  Like post-partum except following Christmas not the birth of a child and more of an emotional thing than a hormonal thing - so actually nothing like post-partum at all.  Anyway, I always get cranky in January.  I do not like this month so I am quite pleased that I am almost through it without any major mental breakdown.

Our anniversary usually falls right in line with the MLK four day weekend, which is awesome.  So this year Matt and I headed off to our closest neighboring country, Canada, for a lovely getaway.  It was great.  We had an exorbitantly over-priced anniversary dinner (which we loved every moment of), roamed aimlessly through Vancouver streets, went to a hockey game, and went skiing.  Fabulous.  All while the kids were tucked away back in the US with my cousins enjoying every moment of their vacation from us!

This year Matt gave me the coolest gift ever!  Sunday his beloved 49rs were playing a play-off game that would determine who would go to the SuperBowl.  Big deal for Matt.  Really big deal.  The game started at noon.  Noon?  I thought we would have to be back at my cousin's house by the time the game started because it was such a big deal.  I was bummed we would be forfeiting a whole day of vacation just so we could go back and watch the game.  But.... happy anniversary to me....Matt asked my cousin to record the game and we went skiing instead of watching it.  Awesome.  I know how much he loves football and particularly loves the 49rs, so I knew this was a sacrifice for him, but he loves me that much!

The only other highlight of this month is that after sitting through 3 hours of basketball two weekends ago I won a door prize.  30 day gym membership.  Woohoo.  And it isn't a strings attached deal either.  Just 30 days to use a local gym compliments of Upward Basketball!  I headed to my first group workout class called Body Works.  It is a hour long weightlifting class.  I walk in and see it is totally filled with old ladies and old guys.  Well, since I was already there, I set up and went for it.  Those old folks are tough.  I can barely move my arms today and I'm honestly getting ready to go take a nap.  When I'm old I want to kick some booty at the gym like these people.  Wow.  After this I'm afraid to try the geriatric aquafit class!

Jan 18, 2013

16 Years


I sat here for an hour trying to come up with some cute, catchy little list of all the addresses we have called home, places we've travelled together, months we've lived a part, cars we've purchased and a bunch of other stuff, but as my list was nearly compiled I looked it over, hoping to have created a picture of what our life has been like these past 16 years, and I realized I failed miserabley.  It is possible that it was cute and catchy, but it most definitely didn't shine a light on our life together.
The places we've lived and travelled, the tears we've shed, the miles we have been a part and the joys of our children and family are all a part of what make our painting, but this life we have shared is so much more than any words on a paper or strokes of a brush can capture.
Although there have been trials, the laughter, tears of joy, and downright silly fun have far outweighed the tough times.  There have been adventures, but the quiet moments between Matt and I leave longer lasting imprints on our lives.  There have been high highs and low lows, and through it all I have never doubted that Matt loves me more than he loves anything else, and more than anyone else in the world could.  I love him more than I thought possible, I treasure his role as a father to our boys, and I thank God daily for walking him into my life 20 years ago.
When I said "I do" 16 years ago I had no idea what I was agreeing too!  So much more than I dreamed, so much more than I deserve.  I thank God for blessing us with each other and blessing our marriage for the past 16 years.




Jan 6, 2013

Lesson for Epiphany

I think by all calendars and in everyone's homes Christmas is officially over.
In our home we celebrate Advent beginning the fourth Sunday prior to Christmas through Christmas Eve, followed by 12 days of general Christmas and New Year's merriment, and then we wrap up the season on January 6th, Epiphany. Epiphany, also called "Three Kings Day",  is translated as "manifestation" and refers to the manifestation of Jesus Christ as the promised messiah.

Each year since we moved to Germany I have marked our door on this day and prayed a blessing over our home.
The symbols are 20 and 13 for the year.  And the initials in between do NOT stand for "Matt", "Clarissa" and "Boys"!  Although it fits quite nicely and is usually what people think it stands for when they see it on my door frame, the initials stand for three wise men Melchior, Caspar and Balthazar.

The door this year.

The prayer.

"O God, you once used a star to show to all the world that Jesus is your Son. May the light of that star that once guided wise men to his birth, now guide us to recognize him in the epiphanies of the daily experiences of our lives.  As we go about our work, our study, our play, keep us in its light and in your love.  May all who enter here find your gracious hospitality, for Christ has come to dwell in this house and in these hearts."

I absolutely love this prayer!  I found it on some website explaining the symbols placed over the door.  I love the request to help us to recognize "him in the epiphanies of the daily experiences of our lives".  I also love the idea that God once used a star to lead the Magi to Jesus and now He uses me, and my house.
One of the lessons of our Advent this year was talking about possible reasons why God chose to reveal his son to Magi.  One proposal I found was that the Magi were seekers and they were constantly looking for answers in the sky.  It was in the sky that God gave them an answer.  Actually, it was in the sky that God revealed THE answer.
God often reveals himself in the very place we are most commonly looking.  Even if we are not looking for him at all.  I cannot count the number of times that God has revealed himself or his plans to me as I am going about my normal tasks.  It is not usually in a candle lit room with incense and meditation that I see an epiphany.  It is when I'm running, teaching my kids, speaking with friends or any other "normal" activity.
Oh that I will keep my eyes and ears open for the epiphanies in the daily experiences of my life and that I will somehow be a star in the sky to those who are looking in my general direction for answers.
Happy New Year!