Sunday, May 31, 2009

Pomp & Circumstance

Nephew 3 graduated this weekend.  You will have noticed a sports theme.  He is a mega athlete.  He is going to school to be a nurse.  Scouts have been hanging around the ballfield.  Would be great if he got a scholarship. Yesterday in the game he went 4 for 4 with a home run, a double and 5 RBIs.  That is a normal game for him. He wanted concession stand food for his party, so his Mother gave him a concession stand.  We had hot dogs, pizza, nachos, and popcorn.  It was fun.

Sequoia Nephew 3 the graduate, Sequoia Nephew 2 youngest and tallest, Sequoia Nephew 1 who just graduated from the PGA school.

This gives some perspective....the sisters and the cousins.... we have no idea where the height came from but I wish I had some.

Normal Girl

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Attention Plymouth Shoppers!

The family across the street has been doing some remodeling, and it seems the purple futon has to go.  She is going to assist in finding it a new, happy home.  

Every time a car goes by, she holds up the sign.

Need a snack...........

When that didn't work, she did the Vanna White arm gesture to show off the visible qualities of the futon.

OH! Car from the north.

Nobody coming.

Getting a little bored.

Why doesn't anybody want my purple futon?

How delicious to be eight and have nothing to do on a drizzly Saturday morning.  Anyone want a futon?
Normal Girl

Friday, May 29, 2009

Shout it Out

Tonight was Girl's Night In at Grace Centers of Hope.  It was one of the best nights we have had there.  The women were feeling good, they knew we were coming, and they were waiting for us to arrive.  And Lottoe made us a great lemon and white cake.  And decorated it!

It was the first time we had met this little girl.  She had the best time covering everything in glue.  We asked her what her name is.  She would not speak it to us.  She told us by drawing it in the air with her finger.  At least three of us tried to get her name out of her.  No dice.  We still don't know what her name is, but we think it starts with M and has an X and a Z in it somewhere.

Get a load of these curls. 

This is Alex with Lottoe.  Alex has been at GCH for awhile now.  She knows us.  She is super smart and has done all of the crafts we have brought.  And has cute leopard leggings on.

We prepared a card making night.    We had all kinds of paper and stickers and rubber stamps.  The ladies had fun exercising some creativity.

But the hit of the night was a rousing game of Outburst.  Players came and went, teams changed, but we played that game for almost 2 hours.  It was great.  Nobody was shy, we were all screaming out the answers.  There was a lot of laughing over crazy answers and cheering for good ones.  The funniest part was that the game was old and some of the questions were really out of date.  For instance, the answers for names of Saturday morning cartoons were shows like Popeye, The Jetsons, Tom and Jerry, and Heckle and Jeckle.  Remember them??  

I am thanking God tonight for this field trip to GCH.  Before I got there, I was whining a bit about needing to stay home and write a paper.  I had even been wondering if Girl's Night In had run its course because our last two visits were not great.  But, I had a great time.  The women of GCH had a great time.  Laughing was so great for all of us.  It felt like we were long time buds tonight.

P.S.  Know anyone that has a coffee table they want to get rid of?  The one they have in the women's rec room is falling apart.

Love how God knows just what we need!
Normal Girl

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Please Don't Fight

This is one of my current favs.  What is your current fav?

Normal Girl

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

I Need a Ten Year Old

I got a new iPhone the night before I left for Atlanta.  Needless to say, during the week, it functioned better as a paperweight than a phone.  I had nothing loaded on it.  Nothing.  OK, that is not true.  Somehow, 450 addresses of people who work for one of the companies where I freelance got automatically downloaded into my contacts.  I didn't want any of them.  I asked the Mac genius how to get them off and he had no idea.  So, I manually deleted all of them last night.  Now I am manually adding the contacts I do want because I do not have a cord to sync my old phone to the computer.  Technology is supposed to be faster and easier, right?  I did manage to figure out how to make a ringtone and I practiced on the Human PinBall.  When she calls, it will play Pinball Wizard.  Call me!!

While I was in the AT&T store, I asked for them to reduce my bill.  I already have them for phone, cell phone and internet, so they said it would be a great package deal if I hooked up their cable too.


The guy was here this afternoon and hooked up stuff to my TV that I don't remember even being asked about, much less agreeing to.  I am going to need a little kid to help me figure out how to watch anything.  I have video on demand and a DVR and who know what else?  I hardly ever watch TV, how in the world did I get all of this?  That guy at the AT&T store?  I have his name and personal cell phone number.  If my bill is not cheaper, he is in dire trouble.

I feel railroaded.
Normal Girl

Monday, May 25, 2009

Freedom is not Free

We are free in this country.  We have many freedoms that we use and abuse.  It is good to remember that these freedoms are not free.  Many Americans sacrificed and many gave their lives, that we here at home may exercise freedom.  I have not had any family members die in service, but have some who were there on the front lines.  Probably all of us have these family stories.

This is the USS Phoenix.  It is the only ship that got out of Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.  My Uncle Norm was on that ship that day.  The story he tells is mind blowing.  There are not alot of WWII vets left, but Uncle Norm is still here and he has not forgotten one detail of that day.

This is the USS Wasp.  My Uncle Lorne was on it when it was torpedoed by a Japanese submarine on September 16, 1942.  The gas tanks and ammunition exploded and all hands had to leave the ship.  He jumped off into the ocean and swam there covered in gas and oil until another ship picked him up.  He hurt his back and had that as a reminder the rest of his life.

Uncle Russell served in Korea in the color guard.  It was a very proud time for a boy from Bay City, Michigan who had not even finished high school.  His younger brother, my Dad, back home, could hardly stand not being able to go to war with his brothers.  He tried every branch of service, but none would sign him because he was deaf in one ear.  

My cousin Carol served in the Gulf War.  She flew Medevac on a helicopter like this.  She was poisoned by chemicals, probably Agent Orange.  To this day, she pays for her service while the Air Force offers minimal health assistance.  Some days, her legs cannot function enough for her to stand.  Even so, she is fiercely patriotic about this country and I have seen her explain to people why they should stand in respect while the National Anthem is playing.

And now, Nephew 2 is in Iraq as a firefighter.  We all pray.  It is all we can do from back home.  

Freedom is not free.  
Normal Girl

Sunday, May 24, 2009

The Girls

Here we are with about half of the girls that live in the building.  I love that one is clutching the new towel we gave her.  It was an exciting present, most of their towels were rags.  They spent the afternoon in the living room we made for them, watching a movie.  It was the first time they had done that.  Then someone cooked dinner for them in the clean kitchen.  That was also very rare until we fixed it up.  So nice to know we made some kind of difference in their daily lives.

We got to know them a little bit while we were there.  They didn't like to talk about themselves much.  They are taught to believe that they live the lives of missionaries, and to be grateful for all they have.  And that is not much.  They live in a building that is very close to un-liveable.  We found electrical problems that we could not believe had not burned the house down.  We fixed what we could see, but who knows what else is behind the walls.  

Three out of four toilets on the girl's floor did not work.  The only food they get is what is donated to them from Trader Joe's, and it is all past the expiration date.  If they don't have that, they eat peanut butter sandwiches till Trader Joe comes through again.

They are together as a group for school, their missions, and for work.  With 6-8 girls in a room, they have to work to find any bit of privacy.  

And they have to pay to be there.  So those that stick it out, really want to.

Before and after pics of the rooms:

Normal Girl

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Day 6 Mission Trip

I very seriously considered licking the plate after I ate this.  It was dark in the room and I was sitting in the back......

We were invited to a fund raising dinner for the Dream Center tonight.  It was their first, and was well done.  We sat at a table with the Bookers.  The Bookers are the couple who run the ministry called Safe Haven.  They take neighborhood children into their home.  These children are from homes with absent parents, or addicted parents, or parents who just can't cope.  The kids live in their house Monday through Friday and go home Saturday and Sunday.  They also do parenting classes with the parents so that they will eventually be able to take the children back into their own homes.  When they are ready, the kids live in their own homes during the week and at Safe Haven on the weekend.  Right now they have three siblings from one family and one child from another family.  Sounds like a lot of work and a lot of invested emotion, doesn't it?  

This ministry was started when they found a three year old girl home babysitting her infant brother, and the folks at the Dream Center realized the kids in the neighborhood needed help.

It has been really interesting hearing the things God has called these people to, here at the Dream Center.  They are amazingly selfless and donate endless amounts of time.  I would say the Bookers donate their lives.  

Food for thought and prayer....
Normal Girl

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Day 5 Beads as Universal Ice Breaker

We worked a physically hard day today.  There is more than one complaint in the group about swollen feet and aching knees.  But, if you need an IKEA 8 cube unit built, we can do it in 20 minutes or less.  Carrying them up two flights of stairs was a killer.

The really great part of the day was having a bead soup party with the kids from the apartment building.  They had a great time, boys and girls alike.  This is the best part of the trip for me, meeting and chatting with the kids.  We met people from California, Montana, Canada, Florida, Mozambique and Kenya.  The most interesting was a 45 year old woman who left her family to enter the program.  It is food for thought to think about leaving my life to live in a mess like that for a year or so to answer the call of Jesus.  Impressive.

More pics from the day:

Day 4 Picture if You Will

Camera battery died, no pics today.  

- living room got completely painted
- Pastor Paul agreed to remove the refrigerator from the living room....yes, the living room
- We got a ton of little chores done, trimming, cabinet door handles, etc
- Wonder Woman arrived tonight!!!!

- spilled paint in the living room on the carpet and a pile of sleeping bags...we got every sleeping bag clean!
- installed two ceiling lights only to find they blew the breaker when we turned the wall switch off...found out they had to be wired incorrectly to work...that is why taking on task that are deeper than surface, in an old house can sometimes be more bother than they are worth
- team earned chocolate raspberry truffle deserts from DQ by completing the painting in three rooms today

Lots more to do!
Normal Girl

Monday, May 18, 2009

Snapshots of Day 3

Some mission trips go to the jungle.  We didn't, but it was still a jungle out there.  

We got to the building and could not get into the parking lot because there were so many cars there.  The manager at the Wendy's across the street let us park there and even told us where to part so they could watch the van. 

The building has a security gate and you punch a number to get in.  They also have a pad on the inside to get the gate open for you to leave.  We could not get the gate open to leave, so we were stuck inside.  Two of us got the brilliant idea to go in through  an upper floor and out the front door.  So we did that, locked the door behind us like responsible visitors and found a locked gate in the front yard.  So, then we were locked in the gated front yard.  And we had nobody else's phone numbers on us.  Eventually, someone came along and let us back into the house and we found out that the code had been changed to get out of the gate.  Thanks for telling us.

Two of us went to Home Depot tonight for misc stuff for tomorrow.  We had pieces of wood to get cut, and the nice guy cut half of the pieces and the saw broke.  He gave us the wood free, I just have to cut it myself tomorrow. We also wanted a toilet tank cover to replace a broken one.  You cannot buy one.  The nice man in that department told us to cover it with a garbage bag and duct tape it on.  Pretty.

We are being fed to within an inch of our lives.  Amazing.

We had lunch today with one of the students who told us her life story.  She casually told us how Jesus has her life completely planned out.  I am still thinking about that.  Does He tell me that too and I am not listening?  I have always thought He does not tell me that because if I know too far ahead of time, I am happy to take over.  Am I missing out on something?

More tomorrow,
Normal Girl

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Atlanta Day 2

Altar Call with Pastor Paul.  We enjoyed the church service this morning at the mission.  Pastor Paul is the genuine article, he loves his flock and they love him.  He invited them forward three times.  He invited all who needed prayer, and he and his wife prayed for each person.  To give their offering, they went forward, put the offering in a basket and got a bear hug from Pastor Paul.  This photo was his altar call.  

It was loud and full of love. His congregation experiences Sunday morning service in a way we do not.  He knows them all very personally.  He has rescued most of them from drug habits and prostitution.  They have two homes full of kids that were handed to them on the street by their parents.  The love of Jesus is here and it is real.

See a few more pics and a video of Pastor Paul:

Working in the ten-plex tomorrow....
Normal Girl

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Atlanta Day 1

This photo epitomizes Divine Design.....the pot of bead soup and a saw.  Our 11 hour drive in the van went buy pretty quickly.  We had to leave one team member behind, but we will be flying her in on Tuesday, we hope.

For more pics of the day:

Pretty tired from a day on the road and painting furniture,
Normal Girl

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Mistaken Identity

Every Mother's day, we visit the local greenhouses up in Bay City.  Carly was cold and wore her Grandmother's raincoat. In the pocket she found the famous plastic rain hat.  It must be 30 years old.  She put on the hat and her Grandmother said, "Oh boy, that is really ugly, I am never wearing that again."  Haha, is that all it took?

Normal Girl

Monday, May 11, 2009

Running Away from Home

I never ran away from home when I was a kid, but it has a great appeal to me now.  I do not know why.  I am pretty happy with my life,  I live alone and do what I want when I want.  And yet, the thought of taking off for a place that is not findable, is appealing.  I love that movie where Julia Roberts fakes her death, runs away and lives in a small midwestern town with a cute theater teacher neighbor and an apple tree.

So, this week when I have 235923432 projects to do and 348 hours to do them in, I am thinking about running away from it all.  So, this club of women with these cute trailers makes me want to hook up and go.  I want to paint a tiny trailer and leave town.

Cute right?

My friend the Queen has one of these, but it just sits in the yard.

Ah, the places I could go..........
Normal Girl

Sunday, May 10, 2009

It's Good to be a Girl

Who doesn't love a good twirling dress?  She did this at least 20 times.  None of the other girls could duplicate it, it is her claim to fame!

Twirl on sister!
Normal Girl

Friday, May 8, 2009

Normal Girl's Busy Day

About 23453 guys arrived this morning at 7 to give me a new roof.  I had guys all over the place today.  With Kim, Tim, and Jim onsite, it sometimes was confusing, but they were finished with the new roof and had patched the hole in the ceiling by 4 o'clock.  I can remove the water catching bucket in the bathroom now! They found no other raccoon holes, but they did find termites.  BLECH!  

They made so much noise all day, I could not hear myself think.   Sometimes they house was shaking and I wondered if Tim or Jim would be sitting at the kitchen table with me momentarily. So, I took my Divine Design list and did a little shopping. 

I also called Pastor Paul at the Atlanta Dream Center.  He told me that when he told the girls we would be there in a week, they stood up cheering and clapping.  I said they should reserve cheering and clapping until they see what we do.  I love to kid a kidder, and he is a big tease. Reminds me of my Dad.  They are really excited for us to be there and that ramped up my own  excitement level a notch.

And, it is trash amnesty day here in the big city.  I am waiting to see what broken junk people take off my curb this year.  I wonder what they do with it when they get it home and it is broken.  People are crazy when it comes to anything free.  Someone is going to enjoy the broken chair that pinches their heinie when they sit in it.

Finally, tonight is a Mother/Daughter bead soup party.  It looks like we will have quite a crowd!

Days like this, you blink and it is over,
Normal Girl

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Another Scholarly Summer

I am four days into the summer semester and the teacher has yet to show up.  When I graduate, I could use that kind of job.  I am taking The Church in Cyberspace.  This week has been spent on the discussion board role playing. Because of where my my falls alphabetically, I have been assigned to petition for my church to have an online presence with streaming video of the Sunday services.  

It has been creepy.  The people against the church being online sound exactly like the real people at my church who hate the music, dancers, and rags.  I can imagine the same debate when television and the automobile were invented.  The nay-sayers don't want to change their comfortable world, so they call websites evil.  And that's all they have.  The pro-web side lists many beneficial things about having an online presence.  Four days of this.  Really, it has run its course.

So, I am in summer school again.  Next summer, it is possible, I could be writing my thesis.

Educating myself and paying for it,
Normal Girl

Monday, May 4, 2009


Part of the preparation for the mission trip was reading a book together.  We read In His Steps.  It is an old book, written in 1897, I think.  It was redone and updated in the 1970s to current language and culture.  It is the book that started the WWJD movement in the 70s.  It is about a church whose members make a pact to consider what Jesus would do in all of the decisions life presents.  It is fiction, but it is thought provoking and I hope it will make us approach our trip and the work we will do from that view point. I suggested my teammates make a list of things Jesus would do if He was in their places on the mission trip.  I spent some time thinking about it:

What would Jesus do as Normal Girl, leader of the Divine Design mission trip to the Atlanta Dream Center?

1. He would make time each morning and each evening to talk quietly with His Father.
2. This is God's mission trip,  so while keeping in mind His original commitment to fix rooms in the apartment building, He would know His main purpose would be seeking the kingdom of God in every action.  God may give Him other duties and other goals along the way, but in the end, He is a missionary on this trip.
3. The relationships of Jesus to His team members would be loving and he would serve them where possible.
4. He would give God the credit and the glory for all successes.
5. He would use the money people have given Him for the trip in the best, most efficient way possible.
6. He would gladly and warmly welcome unknown volunteers that present themselves. He would be patient, warm, and encouraging.  He would be the best representative of His Father.
7. He would be attentive to His team and their goals, yet be open to any Divine appointments set for Him.
8. He would achieve excellence and joy in the process. 

I don't know if I am even close.  It is hard to put Jesus in my shoes.
Normal Girl

Sunday, May 3, 2009

The Old Stained Glass Cross

I think this is my favorite of all of the things I have put on stage.  

This gives you a better idea of the size.  It is 15' tall.  We hung it on a track on rollers. so it rolls the width of the stage. We can adjust it anyplace or put it behind the curtain when we don't want to see it.  Amazing what you can build with styrofoam and tape.

Today we were challenged to sit in a different place in the auditorium.  Funny how different everything looked from a different vantage point.  It even felt like there was less space between pews on the other side.  Of course, that can't be true.  Here is what I learned:

- on the right side, the lights on the stage are way hotter and the people up there wash out
- the right side is under the air conditioning ducts and it is colder over there
- you can see more of the auditorium from the right side, I am not sure why that is, except the shape of the room is not symmetrical...I had a clear view of the was very distracting for me
- I have gotten used to the people I normally sit near.  They  feel like my Sunday morning family and I like catching up with them each week.  They pay attention and do not distract me.
- it made me laugh how much whining went on when we were asked to switch seats and also how many people flat refused to do it

Try a different viewpoint today,
Normal GIrl

Friday, May 1, 2009

What Will it Be?

Spent some time working on a new set piece this week.  Even though I had 23430 other things going on, I scheduled it in.  When I am over busy, I like being in the church alone, with the praise music turned up, and singing.  As long as the bats stay in their place and I stay in mine. And I do feel sorry for whoever is watching the surveillance tape of me.  HA!  

It's 15 feet long. So, what will it be?  Show you Sunday.
Normal Girl