Thank the Good Lord I Skipped Church.

God surely wouldn’t mind if I missed church. Took a sick day, personal day even?

It’s not like I didn’t have a reason. Good friends visiting. Friends I didn’t get to see very often.

A leisurely cup of coffee, laughter as we caught up on all that has been going on in our busy lives. Communing in the sunshine and not rushing to pews and hymns.

That’s what I decided anyway.

“I’ll just stay and wait for Ken and Tracy to get up,” I whispered to my husband as he left for early church.

Walking back into the bedroom, our bed was a tangled mass of sheet and blankets. Off to the side, a leaning tower of dirty exercise wear and school clothes rudely beckoned.

The bed looked inviting but duty called. Gathering up some clothes, I headed to the kitchen to start a load of wash.

On my trek through the television room, I noticed my youngest enjoying his reprieve from Sunday School. His face mesmerized by a laptop screen. Fingers furiously controlling the destiny of his Minecraft universe.

Throwing the clothes in on top of earlier deposited items, I poured the soap. Turned the knob to NORMAL. Hit start and headed to my room.

Nestling back into the sheets, I pulled my computer onto my lap. Nice. But something was missing. Coffee.

So I went to the kitchen to pour me a cup.

Mew. Mew. Just the faintest of mews.

Trotted back to bed with my coffee, all the while the little mew kept mewing.

“Joe. Do you have a cat in your Minecraft world?”

“No. I have a dog.”

Mew.

Once again my fingers clicked away on the laptop. Mew.

Ugh. Cats. Could one be trapped in the attic? In a drawer? I got up and looked at my son’s game. Nope. No cat.

Mew.

Clunk, clunk. Clunk, clunk. I heard the washer rattle on. That’s funny. I didn’t remember putting any tennis shoes in the wash.

DEAR GOD.

I ran to the washer and looked in the clear plastic portal. A cat peered back at me. Tossing and turning. Soaked. Traumatized beyond recognition.

My stomach dropped to my toes and my fingers flew to the cancel button.

Frantically opening the door, I reached in a pulled out the drenched creature. His black fur matted down looking as if he was a poor sea cat freed from a slick of crude.

Oreo tumbled onto the floor weaving back and forth as he tried to move. By appearances, he would surely have failed a kitty sobriety test.

Calling for my daughter, I spilled the whole sorted tale. She screamed in horror and ran to fetch a towel to gather up her big sopping wet baby.

 

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The big lump of drenched critter didn’t move for 30 minutes.

She then carried the wet bundle to her bed.

Throughout the day, I crept into check on him like I did when my children were infants. Was his little chest still moving up and down?

 

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Yep.

I shutter to think what would have happened if I had thrown the clothes in, started the machine and rushed to church.

Cats have nine lives but it would have taken all of them plus nine more to have survived the spin cycle.

Yes, thank God I skipped church that day.

Like the old hymn says, “His eye is on the sparrow and I know he watches over me — and my pets. Whom I might accidentally try to kill.”

 

Have you ever washed a pet? By mistake?

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The Bible is True. I’ve Read it in the Weeds.

25 but while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went his way.

26 But when the blades had sprung up and brought forth fruit, then appeared the tares also.

27 So the servants of the householder came and said unto him, ‘Sir, didst not thou sow good seed in thy field? From whence then hath come the tares?’

28 He said unto them, ‘An enemy hath done this.’   Matthew 13: 25-28.

 

An enemy hath done this.

When you have an enemy, you’ve got to think like your foe.

Come dressed for battle.

And be armed.

 

Honestly, that is one of the things I like most about fall and winter gardens. The weeds aren’t as much of a nuisance.

Until this year.

It’s been so warm that the weeds have forgotten about dormancy and long winter naps.

The tares are partying.

For the love of all that’s holy. Avert your eyes from the mayhem.

 

 

All that beautiful spinach, those turnip greens, bibb and romaine.

Strangled to death by those marauding verdant vandals.

I called with all my strength to the fine young village folk in my kingdom.

“Helpeth me destroyeth the tares!”

Fine.

So some folk would rather lie in the sun and take a nap.

Whatever.

So I got to work on all the wicked one had left behind.

If you hack too hard at the spinach and the turnips the roots come up and the plant is done for.

This is how my garden looked after I stepped away bloodied and victorious.

Okay. It’s a little bit better. The enemy may have held his own in this battle — but I shall win the war!

What about you?

How does your garden grow? Pristine and weed free?

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Madison, Georgia turns out to follow the Donkey. (or is it follow @donkey?)

Donkey Walk Sunday in Madison, G.A.

Throughout the centuries in Christendom, others have referred to this as Palm Sunday.

 

Here’s how it goes among the inhabitants of Madtown.

At 10 a.m. the downtown churches gather along Main Street.

 

 

I never noticed how unsightly and unrelenting the power and telephone wires were down Main Street till I tried to take a photograph without them.

But I digress.

 

Dressed in our Sunday finery and clutching palm fronds, all eyes look down the street toward the Presbyterians.

Before too long, the donkey approaches.

 

 

What starts at the Presbys, gains momentum at the Baptists — crosses Main Street and picks up a bunch of Methodists.

The — Presbys, Baptists, Methodist, Gathering-ites and anyone-who-happens-to-wonder-what-we-were-doing-ites — then stroll down Main, hang a left at The Citizen and continue on steaming and streaming adding congregants with each tenth of a mile.

 

 

 

With a final heave, the multitude turns up Academy…

all following the bitty donkey’s lead.

We arrived.

 

 

Gathered around the steps of the Episcopal church, we have our service.

 

 

It is a wonderful day and wonderful tradition.

A celebration.

 

A celebration of blue skies, green branches and young life.

A day reflecting none of the darkness that lies ahead later in the week.

 

 

Another year.

Another Sunday Madison followed the Donkey.

 

 

How about  you, what did you follow today?

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Musing on Church Christmas Plays.

Last night, our church held its annual, much expected, much anticipated Christmas play.

 

If I had a scanner (that sounds terribly like some folk song meets digital), I would put in a picture of my senior in his first play.

He was in kindergarten and Joseph. A very solemn looking father of our Lord, watching over a young Mary, played by Annie Speyer.

Jake and Annie are now driving and thinking about college.

And last night, I realized my parent-watching-the-Christmas-pageant days are numbered.

My daughter played Nightime Nicole, a sarcastic radio DJ ready for Christmas to be over.

Through the wisdom of Caller Two, played by Lucia Hodges and the play heralding Jesus’ birth  — Nicole sees new meaning behind the red and green hype.

Nicole taking her calls. Bah hum bug.

 

Caller Two trying to persuade Nicole into looking at things a little differently. (That's tough. Believe me -- it's an every day battle.)

 

 

My niece, Maddie sings a killer "O Holy Night."

 

 

A final bow.

 

Of course it was great.

How couldn’t it be with those sweet faces.

Little faces that don’t stay little for long.

Are you still doing the parent-watching-the-Christmas-play thing?

 

 

 

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Musing on Hoofing It Through the Hood to Church.

When will I ever learn?

I woke up this morning in plenty of time to get me, my children and husband off to 9 a.m. church.

I didn’t make it.

At 8:50 we start looking for son Number Two’s shoes.

At 9:03 we called off search and he put on his sister’s boots.

I sent them off and realized — THERE IS NO OTHER CAR.

My car was with son Number One who went to Alabama v. Auburn.

Proof that my car was in not with me this morning. (The bright lights of the GameDay set.)

So with no car…I proceeded to walk to church.

My boots and my cup. Ready for the 10 mile hike.

Could anything be more romantic?

Small town Sunday morning walking to church waving at all my neighbors.

Hey. Where are all my neighbors?

 

 

Actually, it was a nice stroll the two blocks to church.

Caught up on the renovations the new owners were doing to old Joshua Hill.

 

Then a little farther down the street — enjoying my coffee and not spilling a drip — I noticed with the huge oak gone from the tornado and with the leaves off the trees, you can really see the Cultural Center from Old Post Road.

Then I turned and took a picture of Boxwood. (Some houses in my hood have names. People just call my house names.)

 

And then I was at church.

Too late for church, right on time for Sunday School.

Oh well.

There’s always next Sunday.

Were you on time for church today?

Or better yet, did you walk to church (i.e. Sunday School because you had no car to be on time for church) today?

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Musing on Sunday School. Laura Margaret I’ve got your back.

As child, did you go to Sunday School?

No. That’s not the right question.

Maybe the way to approach this would be to ask…as an adult, have you ever taught children’s Sunday School?

Help.

Meet Laura Margaret Burbach. I’ve blogged about her before, but one thing you might not know about this special high school senior is that she teaches the Kindergarten – Second Grade class every week at church.

 

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, I taught three-year-old Sunday School class at Peachtree Road Methodist. Actually it was more like Children’s Church during the eleven o’clock service.

There I learned two things.

* If you teach, your child will then become possessed a demon vomiting pea soup. (And be the only child that has to be sent out to sit in the hall.)

* And if you continue to feed your young charges, they sit there quietly. I don’t know how many Sunday lunches I ruined by letting children stuff themselves with Cheez-Its. But I didn’t care.

 

  *    *    *

Today they acted up a little. But for the most part, they were just cute kids learning about Joseph and how he provided grain for the nation of Israel.

 

 

Look at this hair....love it.

 

 

Then it was time to make some Thanksgiving napkin holders.

I tried real hard to stay in the lines when coloring my Indian corn.

This was Sydney's. She was quite the perfectionist corn colorer.

 

It was taking Sydney a long time. She asked if I could help her.

I said, “No way.” I had my own napkin holders for Thanksgiving dinner to worry about. Where did she think I was? Church?

 

Working away...

 

 

 

Done.

Laura Margaret had to leave early to head to Atlanta for the Georgia Youth Assembly.

I only let go of her ankle  halfway down the hall after the sight of me sobbing and pleading “Don’t leave” was upsetting the babies in the nursery.

So with her gone, I entertained the kiddies with a rousing game of Thanksgiving charades.

They loved it.

I had them spellbound.

But the best surprise of the day was how good my son acted.

He actually said he loved having me there and wants me to come every Sunday.

I don’t think so. I think I kind of peaked today.

Thanks Laura Margaret for volunteering your time with the kids each week.

Do you teach Sunday School? What are any tips…rather than just keeping them eating?

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Musing on herding squirrels to the Big Tree.

Single moms. I don’t know how they do it.

The last few days I’ve been alone with my two youngest and honestly it’s been fun.

That’s because we weren’t on a schedule. Heaven forbid it would have been a regular weekday.

The only time it got a little frantic was trying to make it to church. I was determined not to have a “Dad’s not here so we are staying home from church” Sunday.

Here’s where the herding squirrels part comes in.

Got them up, got them fed, got them dressed — almost.

Shoes.

Why, oh why, is it always the shoes?

Normal people put their shoes in normal spots like by the door or in the closet.

I think my son’s shoes must run off and hide in the most unpredictable spots.

Under my bed, on the front porch, in the oven.

Hallelujah! At 9:05 we found the shoes. “Put them on,” I yelled running to throw on a pair of jeans.

(I reserve lots of leeway for contemporary worship attire.)

We get to church, sit down and I look at my son’s feet.

His shoes were untied.

At that split second the pastor dismisses the children to children’s church. I let him go.

In my single mom status, I was too weakened to pull him back and tie his shoes. Surely, someone will tie his shoes (isn’t that what married people do to help single moms?)

I saw my child an hour and a half later.

I guess I should have stopped him before he left for children's church.

 

As we headed out to the parking lot, he handed me his Sunday School papers and wanted to show me what he made in church.

 

I can't make this stuff up.

 

Yes, from the church to the pokey. Don’t know what it was about the story of Joseph that inspired him to create handcuffs?

Another mystery I need to ask Jesus when I get to heaven. In the very, very distant future. (As if I have any control over that timetable.)

What is the oddest thing your squirrel ever crafted in church?

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Muse on dressing for the Steeple People.

What to wear?  I gazed upon things worn a million times and a few things worn hardly at all — clothing too much evening wear for church wear.

It’s a line to never cross…especially as you age. You’re supposed to know what looks approproe for the Steeple People.

Of course, I was dressing for the Lord. But that wasn’t on my mind. I was late; mad I missed early church again and didn’t want to wear the same old thing.

So I  uncovered something older.

Digging deep I saw a skirt bought six years ago. But I ruined the silk blouse that went with it. (Careless dryer moment.)

Looking upon a shirt I never wear, it seemed to match the green in the skirt.

Must be Talbots. They have color themes each season.

Mother used to give me Talbots gift cards for presents. I assume this meant she didn’t think much of my fashion sense. And Talbots clothing is well-made, conservative and interchangeable — kind of Garanimals for adults.

Put skirt and blouse together, along with a necklace bought a half-decade ago. Threw on a thin belt from Target and black sandals.

The Steeple People loved my over-half-decade old outfit.

My gals in Sunday School gasped when I walked in. My first fashion gasp ever — in a positive way.

A friend stopped me and asked to borrow the “outfit” on a business trip with her husband.

Me and daughter and “outfit.” Daughter asked that I pose goofy. I didn’t.

 

 

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Don’t know what to make of this?

*  Clean out my closet to see what the heck is in there.

*   Rethink my fashion life as a Steeple Person.

*   Rethink this Talbots gift card thing.

How do you decide what you’re wearing for church?

 

 

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Musing on He is Risen.

 

That is the chalkboard in our kitchen. The “Respect Each Other” stays at top every day. And is ignored every day.

The rest changes with our schedule.

Today He is Alive!

But my alarm wasn’t. This was an even bigger problem than usual when you plan to go to sunrise service.

We made it.

As we were gathering at the beautiful Pennington home — I saw everyone walking with lawn chairs.

UGH. That was a little too much for me to remember.

But Ladies I am happy to report Chivalry’s demise was reported prematurely.

Here he was…

Stork. Our knight in blue jeans.

 

The Lord placed a halo sort of around Stork for offering up his chair.

I also must apologize for quality of pictures, at church pancake breakfast I saw some beautiful ones Joe Cardwell had taken. Alas, you have to do with me and my cell phone.

I have not been drinking....enough coffee. Remember alarm malfunction.

If you look carefully you can see a boat…bringing our Pastor Grady Mosley across the Sea of Galilee.

His messages during Lent have been encouraging us to be fishers of men. So what better place to wrap up series on Easter Sunday than from a fisherman’s boat?

 

 

Then we headed to church to a wonderful pancake breakfast by the Methodist Men.

Now I knew they could BBQ some incredible chicken…but they served up pancakes, bacon and sausage.

 

Love these men…they don’t make them any better.

 

That’s my Easter morning. It was so beautiful at the lake.

So green.

So at peace.

So alive.

And so is He.

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Musing on Remembrance — the Seder Meal.

I love the idea of the Seder.  When you think this same ritual has been performed for thousands of years…around tables with loved ones and family.  

How can you not love that?  

My church had a special guest, Janice Scott from Light of Messiah Ministries come Sunday night and lead us through a Seder.  

Every table was set with all the symbolic parts...

 Here’s some photographs of the event taken by Joe Cardwell.  

There was the traditional table on stage.

Six ceremonial foods tell the story of Passover:   

* Matzoh, symbolic of the unleavened bread, when the Israelites left in a hurry they didn’t have time to let it rise, eaten while crossing the desert;   

* bitter herbs (horseradish), a reminder of the bitterness of slavery;   

* roasted lambshank, symbolic of the offering of the lamb they killed and it’s blood that they put on the doorposts so the angel of death passed over their houses;   

*a roasted egg, symbol of the life cycle;   

* haroset (chopped apples, wine and nuts), representing the brick building material used in Egypt, when Moses asked the pharaoh many times to free them one time he said no and didn’t supply the Israelites with straw to make the bricks, the Israelite task masters were beaten when the brick quota was not made;   

* and greens (parsley or celery tops) that symbolize hope/new life.   

Stephanie Dickson preparing the egg for her table. How delicately she shells the egg -- she could have her own cooking show.

   

   

The feast was instituted by God for the Israelites to remember their deliverance from Egypt.   

Passover was so important that the Lord commanded from that time on their year begin with the death of the Passover lamb.   

1The LORD said to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, 2 “This month shall be for you the beginning of months. It shall be the first month of the year for you. 3Tell all the congregation of Israel that on the tenth day of this month every man shall take a lamb according to their fathers’ houses, a lamb for a household. 4And if the household is too small for a lamb, then he and his nearest neighbor shall take according to the number of persons; according to what each can eat you shall make your count for the lamb. 5Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male a year old.  Exodus 12.    

Janice Scott and McCormick Anderson - who found the "afikomen". The unleaven bread that was broken, hidden then returned to the table.

I didn’t know he was going to get cash. I would have been a little more assertive in my suggestions to my child where the bread hidden.

Then there was lots of drinking…four cups.   

  

“L’ chaim.”  

Okay, Janice didn’t say “l’chaim.” No one said it. Except me. Four times. Under my breath.
  
I love a good toast.
  
The Jewish Passover has kept the story of the Exodus alive for countless generations.
  
Christians can embrace the symbolic foreshadowing of the perfect sacrifice and ultimate escape from slavery.
  
Stopping to remember is important.
  
What will our children remember?
  
Or my children…other than a mom bent over a computer screen.
  
  
  
  

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