Tuesday, October 27, 2009

When the Unabomber Came to Visit

I've been wallowing around in random, old memories the past few days. It all started on Friday when I picked the boys up for school and Sam was wearing a huge pair of women's sunglasses, but that story will require pictures that I've got to go rummage around for, so it will have to wait for another day. But the story that goes with the sunglasses led my mind down another path that is also a good story to tell.

We were fresh out of seminary (and by we, I mean Steve, but I feel like I should get some credit too since I was bringin home the bacon.) And we were at our first church, in a tiny little town called Crowell. I had never heard of that town before we moved there, and it is a rare day indeed whenever I mention to someone that we lived there, and they have heard of it too. When it does happen, you feel like you have an instant bond with this person. Anyway, tiny town. About 900 people. Steve was pastoring 2 small churches, and we loved it there. We loved the people, and we still do. Well, one day, Steve was home for some reason, and he got a call from Myrtie, our church treasurer. She was in a panic, and it turns out she had been in the church, all by herself, in the basement, thinking she was completely alone when she went into a room, and there was the unabomber.

Okay, obviously, not really the unabomber, but the dude bore an uncanny resemblance to him. So Steve hotfoots it to the church to save our sweet treasurer from the Unabomber, and he does what any normal person would do when the unabomber is in your church alone, wandering around, looking for God only knows what. He invites him to our home for a meal. Yes, yes he did.
So, Steve and the unabomber show back up at our house, and I am giving Steve the raised eyebrows, are you crazy look, and he proceeds to heat him up a plate of leftovers. We sat down to visit with him because we are southerners and southerners are polite, even to the unabomber, when he is invited over to your house. The unabomber starts talking about how he needs a new comb because he has lice. My eyebrows nearly reach my hairline, and my head immediately starts itching. Steve says that he'll take him to the drugstore and get him some lice shampoo, but says he's got some old combs he can have. The unabomber gets decidedly upset by this, because he needs new combs, dammit! Didn't we just hear him say he had lice? Oh yes, yes we heard. Was he implying our combs would have lice? I didn't question him on it. He also had no place to stay, and I began to shake my head emphatically at Steve just in case he had any crazy notion of inviting lice-infested unabomber to spend the night at our house. There weren't that many motels in Crowell, after all. Thankfully, Steve had more sense than that, and they left as soon as the unabomber had finished his meal to go get him some lice shampoo and get him a room in the one motel in town.
So, all was well, but as Steve left for work the next day, he suggested that I go ahead and lock the doors since the unabomber was still in town, and he knew where we lived. That made me feel a little uneasy, but not that bad. It was later that afternoon when I was visiting with my mom on the phone, and I was telling her about the unabomber when I looked back and saw my back doorknob being jiggled. Then, through the cracks in the blinds, I could see the unabomber!
My heart started racing, and my knees started shaking. "OH my GOD! MOM! It's the UNABOMBER! He's here, and he's trying to get in the house!"
"Well, leave! Get out of there! GO NOW!" I'm sure she was just as scared as I was.
I told her I was taking her with me, so I kept her on the cordless phone and ran out the front door and across the street. We had only been there a few weeks, so I really didn't know any of my neighbors well enough to go ring their doorbells and explain that I was running away from the unabomber. So I just stood there across the street from my house, watching it with concern. Then, I realized that I had left our new puppy in the house, at the mercy of the unabomber! What kind of a mother was I? My mom refused to let me go back in there and get her, and I was too scared to go anyway. So, I was still just standing out there, wondering what to do, when the front door of the house opened, and out came Steve, "What in the world are you doing out there?" he called out.
Oh, I nearly passed out from relief! My knees were shaking so bad, I literally nearly collapsed right there. Turns out, he was bringing the unabomber back over for one final meal before he headed out of town, but Steve was standing to the side of the door, and I couldn't see him through the blinds. I laughed at myself for freaking out, so glad that it turned out to be nothing. And after that, Steve and I came to an agreement that he wouldn't bring anyone else over to the house that he would think I needed to lock the doors from! They could make do with an Allsup's burrito if they had to. One of our first adventures in ministry, and it still makes me laugh!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Sail Fail

At supper tonight we were telling stories, and you know how one story makes you think of another that makes you think of another? Well, that happened to me tonight, and I thought of something I haven't thought of in a long time.

After my freshman year in college, I worked at a summer camp for the summer. A recruiter had come to our campus ministry and they needed counselors for this camp where kids got to horseback ride, learn to sail, play on water slides and water parks, canoe, and the list goes on and on. I thought that sounded like fun, so I signed up and my adventure began.

The counselors arrived about 10 days before the campers, and we were trained in that time so we could teach the campers. Now, horses have never been my thing - I'm pretty much scared to death of them. They just seem so unpredictable and you're supposed to be controlling them, but I never felt empowered enough to control this huge beast that was carrying me for crying out loud! By the very nature of that arrangement, it would seem the horse was in control, and that was true for pretty much every horse I rode. So, I knew this was not going to be my favorite activity, but I'm a pretty good actress so I figured I could fake it. It turned out that they had "wranglers" who would teach the actual lessons about horseback riding, and we were just there for encouragement and crowd control. I learned to fake it pretty well, and horseback riding turned out to be not so bad.

On the other hand, I was really looking forward to the sailing part. I have always loved the water, and sailing just sounded so adventurous and exotic. Remember, I'm from Lubbock, Texas - we don't have a lot of water around there. And so I eagerly went to the sailboat training, envisioning gliding across the smooth water with the wind in my hair. I dutifully learned all the proper terms like port and starboard and jib and boom, and happily took to the water for my first try. There was no gliding, there wasn't even any puttering. I would have been thrilled to just drift with the wind, but my boat pretty much went no where. I watched as the other people would glide happily past me, their hair blowing in the breeze, laughing joyfully, and I would try mightily to position my sails in the exact same position as theirs so I could glide happily too. But, alas, there was never any gliding. I figured it would just take a few tries and I would be a pro at this, not to worry.

The first group of campers came, and when it as sailing day, we all went to the sailboats and each of the counselors had about 6 campers that they would take with them on their sailboat. Can I just say there is no pressure like 6 eight year old girls staring at you, waiting to happily glide across the water and you are just sitting, going no where? Looking back, I blame it on the wind. I'm from west Texas, and here you don't have to lick your finger and hold it in the air to know which direction the wind is blowing. It is blowing in the direction that nearly knocks you over. But in east Texas there didn't seem to be any wind, and yet the blasted other counselors would manage to find the minuscule breeze, turn their sails in just the right position and their sails would fill and they would glide quickly across the water, their laughter mocking me as they went past our stagnant boat.

A few lucky times, I managed to catch a breeze, and we would go sailing smoothly across the water. But I could never enjoy these times because I knew what was going to happen. We would run out of lake, I would be forced to turn, and the fun would come to a grinding halt. It was miserable. My campers would look at me expectantly at first, then later with sheer disappointment. They would listen to my feeble explanations of there being no wind and then say accusingly, "But look at Stacey's boat! They're sailing." Damn that Stacey! Couldn't she just fake it for me? But noooo, she had to glide happily across the water, rubbing it into my sorry face that I was a sailing failure. I remember one time the boom actually caught a gust of wind, came flying across the boat, narrowly missed knocking one of the girls clean in the water, but hit me square in the knee, causing it to gush with blood. I was actually thankful for the injury because then the girls felt sorry for me and didn't make me feel so bad that we weren't going anywhere.

Eventually I learned that I was just never going to get the hang of sailing and would try my best to get sailing as my "off" period. I would bribe the other counselors with whatever was necessary if they wouldn't make me go to my place of shame. If I had to go, I would do my best to try to make it fun in other ways, such as suggesting we all jump in the water and then try to climb back on the boat, pretending a shark was about to eat us all. For some reason this was never as appealing as gliding smoothly over the water. I guess there are some things just not meant for land lubbers.

Thank you for letting me share my shortcomings with you. My name is Alayna, and I am a sailing failure.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

How to get Noticed

So, as I've mentioned in some of my previous posts, we're doing this thing called "Outflow" in our church, and part of it is just encouraging you to notice other people. You know, not being so caught up in yourself, and your own life that you take the time to open your eyes and look around. Is there someone around you who looks down or alone or happy? And is there something you can do about it? Because after you notice someone, the next logical step is caring about that person. And so, in our Sunday School class, we were talking about how it is a part of our culture to mind your own business, and not look like you are staring at someone else.

But that got me to thinking, that somehow, when you have 4 kids, you are exempt from that social rule. Believe me, when you have 4 kids, people notice you. You attract attention everywhere you go. You can see people pointing, whispering, counting, and occassionally, they'll even ask you if they're all yours. I've always wanted to come up with a witty comment to that one, "Nah...we just pick up kids everywhere we go like some people pick up trash." or "They're all mine, except that one (whichever one is acting bad that day) Do you want him?" Anyway, my point is, people notice us, but I realized that what keeps me from noticing other people is I'm usually busy keeping up with all of mine, counting to 4 over and over again, and just monitoring there whereabouts.

So, today was our last Sunday of Outflow, and the day where the church leaves the building and goes out into the community to show people that God loves them by doing practical or nice things for them. So, we had groups that were giving out cokes on the street corner, buying groceries for people who live in motels, giving out coupons for free Dippin Dots, giving out care packages to fast food workers, "buying down" the price of gas at a gas station to make it under $2, and lots more things. And I haven't talked to everybody at all, but here is my favorite story from the day so far.

Steve's group was giving out Cokes to people who stopped at a red light, and after they had been there a while, this lady came back by, and excitedly told them this story. She had been inviting this friend of hers to church with her (not our church) and this girl was really struggling to believe that God could love her. And then, out of the blue, someone gave her this cross necklace, and she had been wearing it, and was starting to think maybe, just maybe, God did love her. And she had gone to church with her friend that morning, and for some reason, she was craving a Coke in the worst way. She even leaned over to her friend and whispered how bad she wanted a Coke, and then as they were leaving church, they stopped at this red light, and a person came up to the window and asked if they would like a free Coke! Of course they said yes, and then she just held this Coke in her hands, that had a card attached that said "This is our simple way of saying God Loves You." Wow! She just looked at it and said, "I guess He does love me after all." Can you believe that? Something so simple as giving out a Coke at a corner could make someone realize that God really does love them and wants to know them? It just gives me chill bumps and makes me want to do nice things for people all the time. So, go out and notice people today! And if it happens to be someone with 4 kids, tell her how nice and well-behaved her kids are, even if it isn't true! I think God might even approve of that little white lie! Okay, maybe not, but be nice to her anyway!