Sunday, January 31, 2010

James's portrait

I've been working on this color pencil portrait of James forever, and not making much progress. So, I thought I'd post it here, and challenge myself to work on it every week until I get it done.... I love drawing these portraits, and it's very relaxing to sit and work on one while I listen to my iPod, but I don't like getting started unless I have an hour or more to work on it, and realistically, I haven't carved out a free hour to work on this in weeks. Sigh.

It takes many many hours to finish one of these, as the colored pencil is applied in many layers, and it is fairly slow, meticulous work. I think I've put about 20 to 25 hours in it so far, and I'm less than half way done. Anyway, I'm going to give this a go and try and get it done - soon. Like before he graduates from High School...

And here's the reference photo I'm using to create this portrait. I love this photo of James, taken when he was about 4 years old.

Tennessee Snowman!

Rachel's Tennessee snowman...

and the view from our front porch.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Top Ten (or more) Memories from SSMTC

Oh, where to start….???

Here’s my Top Twelve List of the “Most Memorable Things from the Siesta Celebration”:

12) Dial “R-U-HAIRY?” Yes, we REALLY saw this (several times) on billboards in Houston. Melana and I laughed every time we saw it…
11) Starbucks coffee with peppermint syrup - Thanks Tiffany for introducing this to me!
10) Pappasito’s – The BEST Mexican food I have had since moving to Tennessee…
9) Beth re-enacting her Chris Tomlin/air guitar episode for the siestas…
8) Tiffany’s deranged GPS….
7) Pink feathers everywhere!
6) Great worship with Travis, Kim, Lisa, Siestas, and the iPod Band
5) Meeting and getting photos with Amanda and Beth…
4) Siestas! Seeing old friends and meeting new…
3) Hearing a WORD! Through Beth’s teaching and Pastor Greg’s sermon on Sunday.
2) Saying those 24 verses!
1) Feeling God’s presence in a huge way…

So here are the details:

Melana, Miesta Moose, and I set off from my house early Friday morning, with our pink feather boas, for the drive to Nashville airport. I was so ready for this event, looking forward to meeting up with siesta friends and longing to hear God speak His Word to me.

Melana and I met our first new siesta friend at the Starbucks in the Nashville airport, BeckyB, and I knew right then that this was going to be such a fun weekend. Tiffany (ForHisGlory) was there at Hobby airport to pick us up, and off we headed to the Omni Hotel. I was so happy to be with Melana and Tiffany, but we were all sad that Lavonda wasn’t able to join us for the weekend (sniff). Our group simply felt incomplete. Melana had made a stand-in for Lavonda, which we affectionately named “Stick-Vonda”.

Me and Melana with "Stick-Vonda"!

On our way to the hotel, Tiffany suggested we meet up with Karen and Daimy for lunch at Pappasito’s. I’m telling you, we had been in Houston for all of 30 minutes, and simply could not wait any longer for Mexican food. (Aside – there is NO good Mexican food to be found where I live in TN. We have a small Mexican restaurant here named “El Metate” and the local gals call it “Elmer Tate’s”. That should tell you how dire the Mexican food situation is here in small town TN….) But I digress. Tiffany’s deranged GPS (more on this later) finally gets us to Pappasito’s where we join Karen and Daimy. I had met Karen at the Memphis LPL, and she is such a delight. I love how her eyes sparkle and she gives you a little wink every now and then – so endearing. And Daimy is just gorgeous and precious and it was so nice to meet her. Pappasito’s was yummy yummy yummy – the guacamole (they make it right at your table!) was to die for, and my fish taco was just perfect. Miesta Moose enjoyed it too…

Tiffany, Melana with Miesta Moose, Me, Karen, and Daimy

Moose supervising the guacamole prep...

OK, we FINALLY get going to the Omni hotel, making a slight detour into Rices’ Epicurean Market to buy tons of See’s chocolate, and as we traipse into the lobby of the Omni, dragging all our bags, there is Amanda! It was so nice to finally get to meet her and give her a hug. She is such a kind and gracious person, and so sweet. Our room at the Omni was wonderful, and soon it was time to leave for the event.

Now, it’s a good thing we left early, because Tiffany’s GPS managed to turn what should have been, oh, say a 10-minute drive from the hotel to the church, into an hour-long (not kidding) misadventure in Houston. We did several loops on Katy Freeway, we passed BACK by our hotel not once, but twice, and we passed by the church once but couldn’t get to it because we weren’t on the frontage road. It was maddening! The crazy GPS even told us at one point to “Turn right at Buckingham Lane”. Please behold this photo of where we were directed to turn!

Buckingham Lane.... Not really a good place to turn, despite what the GPS says.

We finally made it to HFBC, and everywhere I looked, I saw pink feather boas. It was so good to see old friends from the Siesta Fiesta – Lichelle and Evie, Patty, Lora, and to meet siestas that I feel I know but have never actually met – Georgia, Deborah/Twinkle, Emmy, Georgia Jan, Yolanda, and Miranda. Cameras were constantly flashing as 500+ siestas ran around hugging necks, taking photos, and just loving on each other. Siestaville is just filled with sweet women.

Me with Lora (By The Lamp Light)

Patty, Melana (Moose Mama) and Georgia

Evie and Lichelle

Tiffany, Melana and Miesta Moose, Me (with horrible hair!)

Beth, Amanda, and Melissa came to the stage and welcomed us all, and Travis and the Amazing iPod Band led us in worship, and then Beth taught the first half of her lesson on Psalm 119. I didn’t know that:
  • Psalm 119 has 176 verses, divided into 22 groups of 8 verses each. Each of the 22 groups corresponds to a Hebrew letter, and every line in a section starts with the Hebrew letter for that section, making it an intricate, elaborate Hebrew acrostic.
  • Psalm 119 has been described by some as dull, repetitious, but Beth said it covers “… an amazing gamut of emotions..." and reflects "...a life lived out with God, from A to Z.” I thought that was very fitting for this weekend, as she had directed us at the start of the memorization challenge to pick verses to memorize that we NEED, that speak to us in our lives.
  • Psalm 119 uses 8 different words for God’s revelation to us, and 173 of the 176 verses include one or more of these 8 words. The eight words are testimonies, precepts, statutes, commandments, judgments, Word, words/promises/sayings, and Torah/law. The psalmist (who is unknown) decribes a love for these revelations of God.
  • The sentiment “I love your law” is repeated over and over in the Psalm, and Beth taught that we should think of this as “I love your teachings”. That made a lot of sense to me.
  • The psalm includes 70 different prayer requests, many of which are essentially the psalmist praying scripture and promises found in scripture back to God. It is so important for us to know the Word of God; how can we pray it if we don't know it?

On Friday, Beth stated developing a run on sentence, illustrating each section using verses from Psalm 119 as well as other scriptures. One of the key points she made was from verse 105 which says “Your word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.” The psalmist believed that God is capable of leading us, and that when the time is right, He will reveal to us our next step. Beth talked about how so many of us want God to shine a spotlight out into our future, to show us the end result, so we can know where we are going and see where we are headed, but God doesn’t promise us that. He promises a lamp, which will illuminate our path just enough for us to see the next step He is calling us to take. That was huge for me. I am one who likes to see the map, to know the route I’m taking before I set out on the journey, and it’s often so hard for me to move forward when the end result is unknown.

After the Friday night session, we went to the church lobby for a meet and greet, with coffee and some of Beth’s delicious Texas Sheet cake. We waited in the long line hoping to get a photo with Beth, but she had to leave long before she had a chance to meet everyone in the line. We headed back to the hotel and went up to the hospitality suite and visited with the siestas there for a while, and then went to our room to crash.

Melana and Travis

On Saturday morning we headed over to the church early. After the worship, Beth finished up her lesson on Psalm 119. The full run-on sentence, which she developed over Friday and Saturday is:

I am a resident alien, looking for direction, in deep want of wonder, in peril and need, deeply troubled by humanity – especially my own, recognizing that to follow is the only free road, for a straying sheep longing to be found.

Some other points she made included:

  • Blamelessness is not the same as perfection, but rather it means to be free of willful sin.
  • In this day of internet and social networking, it is so easy for us to hear a message and think "Oh this is good, I need to pass this on to my friends!" and we pass stuff on before we have taken the time to absorb it ourselves. Beth encouraged us to NOT pass things on that have not been planted in our hearts.
  • Prayer is our means of unburdening our hearts before God. Nothing we do or say can ever be done behind His back, because God never turns His back on us.
After Beth was finished teaching, we paired up to say our scriptures to each other. It was almost surreal, to sit in the courtyard area and hear the buzz of words as groups of siestas shared their verses with each other, and then to see the high fives and hugs. I loved it. We finished up with a beautiful commissioning, which I got to share with Melana, whom I love dearly. She is such a good friend to me.
Melissa and Beth - Beth said Melissa told her this outfit made her (Beth) look like a chicken nugget, but we all thought she looked adorable :o)

Too soon, the event was over. Beth, Amanda, and Melissa slipped out the door during the final worship session, but they came back to the foyer and stayed until everyone who was there managed to get a photo taken with Beth. These ladies are the real deal - so kind and willing to serve.
Me with Siesta Mama Beth!

Tiffany, Karen, Beth, Lindsee, and Daimy

For lunch we went back to Pappasito’s! After all, what could be better than having great Mexican food for lunch two days in a row? After lunch we went to the Galleria, where we ran into several siestas, including Carolyn/Warm in Alaska and Kiki, who are just delightful. We walked the entire mall until our feet ached, and had a great time shopping in Charming Charlie’s. I bought James a “Don’t Mess with Texas” t-shirt, since I had bought Rachel a pound of her favorite See’s chocolates. (See’s candy is another thing that, sadly, isn’t available in small-town TN…)

Leaving the mall, we headed over to The Chocolate Bar, but we arrived there about 45 minutes before any of the siestas planned to be there. Since we so tired, we decided that if no-one else showed up by 7, we were out of there! Happily, lots of siestas showed up and we had such fun visiting and talking before finally dragging ourselves back to the hotel.

Sunday morning we planned to meet some siestas at the Express Café for breakfast, but when we arrived there the place was completely empty. We headed across the parking lot to La Madeline café, where we had a lovely breakfast before heading over to HFBC for the 9:30 service.

Arriving at church, we met Amanda in the lobby and she told us that the service in the huge sanctuary would have the choir and orchestra, but in the chapel, the music would be contemporary. Pastor Greg preaches in the sanctuary, and this is displayed on a screen in the chapel. We decided to head into the chapel for the contemporary-music-version of the service. Pastor Greg taught on “Family Squabbles”, using the story from Genesis 13 of Abram and Lot parting ways. At one point, talking about husbands and wives, he said “…we sometimes forget we are on the same team.” That was a word I needed to hear, to be reminded of the fact that hubby and I ARE on the same team.

All too soon we were back on the freeway heading to the airport. Sigh… But while I was waiting at the gate in the airport, I heard someone behind me talking on their phone, and she was obviously talking about the weekend events. Well of course it was a Siesta – Betty from Oklahoma! She and I visited for a while until she had to catch her flight.

My flight and drive home were uneventful, and it was so good to be home and see my family.

I won’t forget this weekend. Of all the LPL events I’ve been too, this one was special. I truly felt God’s presence all weekend – in the worship, the teaching, the sermon, the sharing of verses, and the friendships.