Sep 21, 2008

TRAVEL LOG - Day Two - Tennessee

Well, we made it to Tennessee.  First we went through Chattanooga (one of my favorite cities anywhere) and had lunch with our old friend Marty Thompson.  It was his fifth anniversary at his church.  Marty was the youth pastor at FBC Oviedo when I started there.  He also was our first big booking with Defender at Dallas Bay Baptist Church.  So it was great to catch up with him.  He has a book that he has written that he gave us each copies of - In Search of the Perfect Youth Ministry.  He even mentioned our ministry in one of the chapters.  Even though the time was short together, I was blessed by seeing him and how well he is doing.  He's a great guy and really deserves to have a great place to serve.

After that, we drove the boring trek to Nashville.  I love Tennessee.  I have never been a huge fan of moving anywhere else, just because I am pretty lazy.  But if we ended up in Tennessee, I would be okay with that.  I would prefer Chattanooga, but Nashville is nice.  The drive between the two?  Not so much.  But we got to our La Quinta (Spanish for Triple Points) room - an upgrade from our Atlanta room.  We always try to stay at La Quinta (Spanish for clean rooms) when we travel, because we have a rewards membership there.  In fact, our room in Nashville is free, thanks to points we accumulated.  Overall, their hotels are nice, and they always have internet.  Well - except for the one in South Nashville on Sidco Road.  I made the mistake of booking that one - not once, but twice.  Right next to a train depot.  

We set up our table, and I felt inferior to all the other bigger groups with fancy backdrops and signage.  But we just can't afford to buy all that yet.  Sure, at some point, we would love to upgrade it.  Now is not the time.  There is another group out of Arkansas that is "working the same side of the street" as us - dealing with very similar issues as us.  They have a big fancy setup, which got me in a funk right away.  I had to keep reminding myself that there is more than enough room for several ministries doing the same thing.  And I have no idea what they even do.  But it was enough to star the experience off on the wrong foot - it doesn't take much to get me down.  So I am going to fight that until we get back.

Tomorrow we get to start the actual exhibit process.  I look forward to meeting the youth pastors who are there.  And we are praying we get some good contacts - and that we can help provide some answers and solutions.  So be thinking of us.  

Sep 20, 2008

TRAVEL LOG - Day One - Atlanta

I know I haven't been able to update my blog as much as I would like lately.  That is what happens when you are busy busy busy.  I feel like spend most of my life in my car.  That didn't change today, as I began the first leg of a ten day whirlwind trip around the Southeast.  First, Charles and I have an appearance as an exhibitor at the Lifeway Youth Pastor Conference in Nashville - via an overnight stop in Atlanta and a lunch stop in Chattanooga.  After the Conference on Tuesday, we will head back through Atlanta to South Carolina for my brother-in-law Mike's wedding.  Then we finally will get back to Orlando next Tuesday (via Orange Park).

So today we started off this morning printing books.  Then we drove up from Orlando to Atlanta.  It was a nice trip, just sitting in the car and chatting with Charles.  I have missed being able to talk to him on a regular basis with my new work(s) schedule.  So it was nice to just drive for six hours.  We listened to UCF getting whooped by Boston College on XM Radio.  That was followed by listening to UF beat up on Tennessee.  And we ended with the comedic stylings of Jeff Allen.  And we had a delicious dinner at Ted's Montana Grill - one of my favorite restaurants.  Charles and I love bison burgers, and this is one place to get them.  Now we are relaxing in a La Quinta (Spanish for Hi Speed Internet).  

It is nice to get a break from the rigors of the new jobs.  I am looking forward to having a blast thinking about Defender for a couple days without having to worry about other employment.  Of course, I wish I had my family with me.  I have pictures of the kids on the computer and I miss them like crazy.  It was funny.  At lunch there was a screechy kid at Woody's.  I told Charles, "It just makes me miss Gabe."  I'll try to check in with updates each night.  We are staying at a La Quinta in Nashville (Spanish for Free Breakfast), so I'll have internet.  Have a good night all.

Sep 8, 2008

My Scary Morning

This morning something terrifying happened to me, so I thought I would take a moment to share with you wonderful people.  Round these parts, garbage is collected on Monday and Thursday mornings.  (I remember this because we take the garbage out on days we go to church.  Not necessarily drawing any links or anything, just saying...)  It used to be that the trucks would lollygag over here about 10:00am.  So if you forgot to put the cans out the night before (which happened about 2/3 of the time), you could get them out in the morning.  Lately, they have been motivated to get done earlier, I guess.  So the guys hit our house around 6:30am.  Well, today I forgot to take the can out.  Actually, it was outside the garage, but not at the road.  And I figured they don't do door service.  

We have one garbage can - actually it belongs to our landlord.  Our last can didn't make the trip to this house with us.  It stayed at the old place, since it was nasty and who wants to put a garbage can in your car when you are moving?  So we have this can - which does not have a lid.  And this round of refuse was particularly nasty.  It included Gabe's diapers and some mutant broccoli.  So it was stinking things up in the garage.  I moved it out into the driveway on Saturday night.  And then forgot to drag it 20 feet to the curb.  I have been exhausted and this morning my brain is running in molasses.  I am a third of the way through my morning routine when I realize this.  (My dad called it the "three S's" - but this is a family blog so I won't explain what the first one is.  JP and any other military people probably know it already.)  So I get dressed and run (amble) outside to put the can out.  When I get there and grab the can, I hear a loud hissing sound.  

My natural response, being a Grade A chicken, is to jump backwards.  I then would have ran into the house and just turned the can over to nature.  But I didn't want the stink back in my house, so I had to get the can to the curb.  I'm trying to figure out what was going on.  Was there a rattlesnake in the can?  No, you idiot.  It would rattle, not hiss.  But snakes do hiss, so maybe it was a snake.  Why would a snake be in the garbage can?  I haven't even seen a snake at this house.  Maybe it was something else.  A cat?  They hiss.  But I have had cats before, and they don't sound like that.  It could be a possum.  They hiss when they are cornered.  At least I think they do.  I remember our dogs finding possums when I was growing up.  They make horrible noises.  And they crunch when the dog bites them.  I decided I was going to go on the assumption it was a possum.

What am I supposed to do?  Our outside lighting is, um, non-existent.  So I can't see into the can.  And I don't want to stick my face over the can in case the snake possum wants to jump out at me.  I decide to go get a flashlight and a weapon.  Naturally, when I get back in the house, I can't find our one flashlight.  We used to have multiples, but they all have been broken or lost since our kids think they make fantastic toys.  This last one - a floodlight style - has been rescued MANY times from the same fate.  But, my sleep addled mind can't come up with the last place it was being used as a star machine, so I failed in that part of the plan.  (I found out later it was in my room.)  I also can't find a weapon.  All I see laying around are Josiah's Planet Heroes toys.  Not going to cut it, I'm afraid.

So I can up with an alternate plan.  I can put up the garage door and turn on the light in there.  I figure the light will shine out enough to see inside the can without being brutally attacked.  And, with any luck, the noise of the door will scare the vile creature out.  I was worried that Josiah would wake up from the noise of the door, but he had to get up soon anyway.  This was more important than sleep.  So I opened the garage door and tried to peer into the can.  I didn't see anything.  I looked around the garage and saw a big box that had housed Gabe's new play fencing.  I grabbed the box and went to use it as a shield.  I held the box up wide in front of me and kicked the garbage can.  Nothing.  I kick it again.  Nothing.  Good, my plan worked.

So I push the can down the driveway a foot or so with the box.  The hissing is back.  Dang.  It seems to be low in the can, which is good.  I will just slowly push the can down the driveway and let the garbage man deal with the surprise at the bottom.  They already hate me due to the bags of stinky diapers I leave in the can.  [Side Note: I learned back as a kid - if you only put the big garbage bags in the can, waste collection professionals will pull those bags out and leave the stuff in the bottom.  If you want them to empty the whole can, you have to put loose stuff on the top.  Hence the fact that I always put the bag of diapers on top.  It may stink, but at least my can gets emptied.]  

So here I am pushing the can down with a box.  SCRAPE HISS SCRAPE HISS.  I notice the hissing is getting quieter.  I begin to be suspicious of what was going on.  It was then I realized what it was that was torturing me.  THIS

That's right.  It was an empty can of Reddi-wip.  It was in the top of the bag and every time I pushed the can, the bag of diapers would roll and push on the nozzle.  HISS.  Jeesh.  I felt pretty stupid.  Now you may wonder why we had Reddi-wip in the first place.  Simple answer, we always have it.  I use it when I make Mochas or Hot Chocolate.  But, I also learned early on in my life that you always had Reddi-wip on hand in case you wanted to squirt some in your mouth.  My mom taught me this.  We even were trained in how to not squirt enough to make you gag, and how to squirt it so you never touched the nozzle with your mouth.  I have passed this along to my kids - including Gabe.  Nothing is cuter than an 11 month old seeing a can of Reddi-wip and grunting to get some - tilting his little head back and opening his mouth.  

I thought everyone did this.  It was one of those things that I just figured was a part of normal life.  I found out I was wrong.  Up at Heather's mom's house a couple weeks back, I had the can out to spray some on the kids' chocolate chip pancakes.  Naturally, I went around and doled out the mouth squirt.  I turned around to see Heather and her mom staring at me in what could be called horror.  "What?  You guys don't do that?"  I think I knew the answer.  "My mom taught me that.  Just like when she taught me how to eat a yogurt in the car by making a spoon out of the foil cover or how to eat Ben & Jerry's in the car with no spoon - or making sure you have a spoon in the glove compartment to eat your Ben & Jerry's."  Turns out that none of those things are universal.  I can understand the aversion to the car dairy product devouring.  But I'm still going to give my kids the Reddi-wip.  Even if it masquerades as killer snake possums trying to scare me to death.