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Monthly Archives: July 2011

Disaster Planning

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I just finished reading a great book about a bioterrorism attack on the US capital (“A Heartbeat Away,” by Michael Palmer). Very fun, very engrossing. While I was reading it I actually had a hard time pulling out of it mentally and emotionally. I would look up at some interruption from my kids or the phone or whatever, and think “Do you know what is at stake here? Don’t bother me, I know you are hungry and it’s lunchtime, but America’s entire elected leadership is at risk from a fatal and rapidly mutating virus!” I didn’t say that, because, you know, it was pretend and all. But I thought it.

There is something about a good disaster scenario that I just love. I love disaster movies – the cheesier the better. (Exhibit A: See 2009’s “Megafault” about a massive earthquake bisecting the continental US which can only be stopped by an intrepid earthquake scientist and her quirky companions racing cross-country in an RV to get ahead of the fault with explosives…..delightful good times.) “Falling Skies,” about a post-apocalyptic, post-alien invasion Earth, is my favorite new summer TV show, and the list goes on.

Not only that, but I occasionally rehearse extensive “what if?” scenarios in my head. Dark, disturbing, “what would I do?” scenarios.  I’ll be driving down the road, and notice I need gas. Instead of going to  get gas, I’ll think about what I would do if right then there was an earthquake or terrorist attack. What if I run out of gas before I can get home/pick up the kids/get away to the wilderness where we’ll have to survive on our wits and what we can forage? And then I remember I don’t know what I could eat in the Oregon forest, and muse on how I could learn to catch fish with my bare hands long it would take my husband to learn to fish with his bare hands, ’cause fish are slimy and gross. (By which point I’ve forgotten I need to get gas.)

Or I pull into a store parking lot, and see a white van. Well, clearly, there could be a serial killer in that van waiting to capture me and keep me in a cage with his troll doll collection, or an international operative who has me confused with a spy that did him wrong, and I’m about to be captured and taken to a vaguely unfamiliar Middle East country until I’m ransomed. Except I’m not a spy, and my husband and friends will have to band together to free me when political interests prevent the government from stepping in.

Ya’ll do that too, right?

That’s totally normal, right?

Because this is why I know I need to memorize more Scripture. I shudder to think what might be stored in my brain when the terrorists or the Russian spies kidnap me and hold me hostage. Everyone knows that when you are held prisoner, you need to have things memorized that you can hold on to in the dark moments between interrogations and meals of bug and stick soup.

I’m confident my dear husband will use his inimitable (vocabulary points, thank you!) computer skills to somehow fool the bad guys while running through the dark city streets and subway tunnels to rescue me, but in the meantime I’ll have to stay strong with the things in my head.  How awful if all I could pull out of my head is that Cee Lo Green song sometimes known as “Forget You”, or Sesame Street songs, or the Coca-Cola jingle? Or Air Supply lyrics?

Your Word is a lamp unto my feet, a light unto my path. Psalm 119:105

Guard my words as your most precious possession. Write them down, and keep them deep within your heart. Proverbs 7:1-3

Clearly, I’ve got some work to do. Maybe I’ll add this to the list too:

Thankfulness – Sometimes You Have To Force It

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Excuse me, ladies and gentlemen, we interrupt today’s Pity Party in progress with a brief exercise in forced thankfulness. Yes, yes, we know you signed up for the Pity Party with bad intentions, all ready to be mopey, sad, grumpy and generally unpleasant all day. No worries, we completely expect the Pity Party to resume in all its dark glory shortly. Anyone who is not satisfied with the Pity Party at the end of the day can request a refund, which will of course be refused.

But right now, we are asking all Party guests to take a brief pause in the Pity for a short exercise in forced thankfulness. We are aware that there is a small chance that this may interrupt your ability to fully revel in your Pity Party, but again, this is just a short interruption. General unpleasantness can resume in a few moments.

Ugh. Fine.

Five Things I am Forcing Myself to Be Thankful For Right Now:

5. Hey, I did NOT wake up hideously disfigured by a mystery disease. (Stretching already, I know, but trust me, today it will be hard to find five things.)

4. I have lots of good, black tea to drink as my Pity Party beverage of choice. I am thankful I am not out of tea.

3.  Good thing my vague intentions and serious desire to lose weight haven’t paid off yet, cause a new wardrobe isn’t in the budget. Whew.

2. Although I have developed a strange elbow pain that seems to be some sort of carpal tunnel/repetitive injury/middle-aged thing that is preventing me from carrying heavy things, like a full cup of tea, at least it’s my right hand. Cause you know, I’m right-handed, and I wouldn’t want an excuse to use my left hand any less than I already do. That would make me more handedly-lopsided. No one wants that.

1. I am truly grateful that the 4 boys in my living room who have bickered and complained all morning have decided that they have to play their board game in silence because the kittens are sleeping. Yes, yes, please play silently so the kittens can sleep. YAY!!!!!!

Ummmmm…….Can I go back to the Pity Party now? I was looking forward to the appetizers – you know, the Cranky Crunchies, the Salty Snappies, and some bittersweet Choco Flakes.

Five Things I Learned At Vacation Bible School

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This last week, I led Recreation (also known as Games, Running and Craziness) at our church Vacation Bible School. (Which they call Discovery Bible Camp. Confusing, I know. See lesson #5.) It was a wild experience, one which yielded rich lessons I thought I would share with you. I present them in reverse order to increase dramatic effect – aren’t you excited? Here we go:

5.  It doesn’t matter what you call it, we’re all going to call it VBS. I completely understand the marketing behind the name, makes a lot of sense, what with our society’s current push to have our kids enrolled in camps all summer. But it’s been several years, I think, and we still all just say “blah, blah, blah at DBC, you know, VBS.”  Some things are just tradition.

4. Many of our children (and I admit that what I really mean is someone ELSE’S children) (I may in fact mean YOUR children, but I would not be so bold as to say) are strangely hesitant to get dirty, wet, or crazy goofy. What’s the deal? This may serve them well in college, I guess, if it lasts that long. But what it means now is that I had several adorable children politely decline to play with water balloons. Really? Let me get this straight, I’m sayin’ you can throw water balloons at a teacher, or one of my cool teenage helpers, and you’re not interested? Clearly, this may be a sign of the end times. Folks in charge are lucky I did not give in to my baser urges, and just push nudge some of those kids down in the dirt and pop a water balloon on their head to finish the job.  For the love of all that is holy about childhood, people, send your kids outdoors and don’t let them in until they are good and filthy!!!!

3.  I discovered on the last day, traditionally Water Play Day, that I handle disrespectful children who flaunt authority (as if they do it all the time at home with no consequences – I’m just sayin’) much better when I am armed with a squirt gun. “I said – SQUIRT – line up with your partner – SQUIRT – on that white line! SQUIRT, SQUIRT – Much better, thank you.” It actually made it way more fun. For me, at least. I am wondering if I should just add a squirt gun to my regular parenting bag of tricks. Might make those busy school mornings go more enjoyably for me. (“SQUIRT Time to get your shoes on, darlings. SQUIRT Don’t forget your lunch boxes, sweet boys….SQUIRT”)

2. Our church hasn’t crossed the line to TOO trendy or marketing-oriented, because we didn’t have any bouncy houses at VBS. (One of my favorite bloggers, Jon Acuff, alerted me to the bouncy house trend.) This year, we didn’t even have a live DBC/VBS band for our music. But boy, howdy, did the six little boys in my car have a good week.  (Yes, six. Did I mention I was REALLY tired?) They were smilin’, worn out, theme-song-singin’, Scripture-memorizing boys-o-happy.  Just goes to show, if you love Jesus,  have a passion for what He can mean to kids, and have or can fake ridiculous quantities of energy, you don’t need no stinkin’ fancy bouncy houses.

1. You know the most important thing I learned at VBS this year? After not quite a week of yelling, cheering, clapping, encouraging and occasionally just plain scolding 200 kids playing all manner of games? I realized that this particular job is simultaneously one I am pretty darned good at, and one I do not enjoy in a deep-down-satisfying, passions-and-gift matching kind of way.  No fault of anyone’s, cause there was AMAZING leadership and I had BEYOND AMAZING helpers. Really, I had teenagers that were kind, good-natured, and willing to do anything I needed with a smile. Kids that saw the little ones who hadn’t figured it out, or who needed a special hug, and who were there for them. And a copilot adult who helped me brainstorm through every game that didn’t quite connect, who went with the flow while rolling with the punches in all good humor.

I was blessed with all that, and I still wasn’t digging it.  Was actually ANTI-digging it.

The big lesson? That’s ok. I wouldn’t do it for a job, or as a long-term commitment. I strongly believe life is too short not to spend time doing things you are both good at and that you enjoy. Not even as a mom. I am a strong believer in not martyring my long-term happiness to the cause of my kids’ short-term happiness.

But for one week out of the year, to help 200 kids learn that hangin’ with Jesus’ peeps can be fun, to have 6 happy kids singing in the van at the end of the day, that is ok.

Next year though, next year is the last year all three of my boys will be the right ages to be in VBS. So for next year, me, I’m dropping off and peelin’ rubber.

Peace out, VBS.

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