A Rambling Letter To Christ Covenant Pres. Church About General Assembly

Dear Church Family,

Andrew and I are in Mobile for the PCA General Assembly and I wanted to share with you the highlights for your joy and encouragement.
General Assembly is the annual meeting of PCA people to connect, refresh and do the business of the denomination. Reports are heard from each of the ministries of the denomination – like Covenant Seminary and College, Mission To The World, Mission to North America, Reformed University Ministries and so on. Pastors and elders from churches all over the country are called commissioners and the commissioners hear and vote on various items. One big item this year is determining a denominational confession of past racism, both of omission and commission, in the Presbyterian Church, and a commitment to deliberate efforts toward reconciliation. I am glad this debate is happening here in Mobile, Alabama because walking the streets of old downtown, the history of racial suffering cries out in so many ways. It is impossible to make this just an academic debate when ‘their blood cries out.’
The Assembly opened with a worship service last night. We sang, heard the word preached, took communion together – over 2,500 men and women with strong voices singing and sweet fellowship. What I most wanted to pull you church family in to share with me was the humility evident in the speaker and the listeners. Several thousand people on the eve of debating deeply-felt issues, yet all of one mind, agreeing that we can’t do anything without Jesus Christ, praying that the discussions of the next few days would be bathed in His grace and favor, that the debates over very important particulars of faith and practice would come from humble hearts that stand firmly on truth and that submit to a sovereign God. Be so thankful for the earnest prayer and heart of the leaders of our denomination! I am.
After the worship service, the assembly elected this year’s moderator and they elected none other than Andrew’s best childhood friend, George Robertson. While accepting this office, George mentioned his friend Andrew who had invited him to church as a boy, which opened George’s heart and eyes to the doctrine of grace. God is so good!
I missed this however, because I was in the exhibit hall (where all the vendors and book sellers set up) running my mouth and reuning with old friends and also calling Will to check on him. He had texted me earlier in the evening to assure me he was home safely from work and fed. Actually, his text read, “Home from work and doing illicit drugs. No worries.”
The convention center is right on the Mobile Bay and the moon over the bay last night was magical.
Andrew checked an item off his Alabama bucket list when we ate dinner at the original Wintzell’s Oyster House with dear friends Tom and Beth Ann Stein.  My reality on this excursion was rubbing up an enormous blister because we walked many blocks to get there – normally no big, but I was wearing a brand-new pair of platform shoes, hitherto unworn, in order to look, you know, young and hip. We see so many old friends at GA, the pressure is on to be thin and ageless. Tom, ever the practical Midwesterner said, “Yes, but bloody is not sexy.”  My southern Mother-in-law would counter that with her own ironclad truth:  “Beauty is painful.”  I was torn, but comfort won out and the brand new platforms sit bloody and upturned in hotel room corner.
This morning I did one of my favorite things – the urban run. I know calling Mobile ‘urban’ makes New Yorkers chuckle, but to us Cullmanites, Mobile is quite urban and the run was delightful.
Well, this is long and rambling, but I really wanted to share the experience with you so you can rejoice in our great, great God!
Love,
Allison

Galadriel Learns Contentment

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I need another clone,”  I’ve said many times when deep in discussion about something thrilling or amazing. I personally can’t go do the thrilling thing because I am busy doing this life, but my clone could. Over time, I have racked up a whole sisterhood of clones:

Linguist Clone. Pondering the staggering fact that movement of my tongue, lips, and throat in certain ways conveys meaning, thought, from my head to yours and that this happens in different ways all over the globe. Glory!

Novelist Clone. And an excellent one. One who captures a place and a time and a person; who allows that person to do whatever he or she is going to do; and who manages the authorial alchemy of both watching and superintending unto resolution. I may need two of these.

Ballerina Clone. We all have that regret, the wrong fork in the road, that we didn’t take ballet and that we quit piano. This clone would be dedicated to the life of movement, to muscles and leotards and the elite world of sweat and practice and obsession.  In this category also reside Olympic Figure Skater Clone, Olympic Gymnast Clone,  and Guy That Billy Joels The Piano In A Public Place Clone.

Army General Clone. As a reader, I have romanticized war, while scolding myself for doing so. I have longed to be the one on whom all the responsibility lies, to be faced with the impossible task of loving my men and, unflinchingly and crying on the inside, sending them into the fire in the cause of good over evil; to be in a no-win situation and to win! This clone would helm the ship of state with grace.  I probably need to stop reading war books for awhile.

Football Player Clone. My son would say no, no, no, no, no, you don’t want to be a football player. But, I do. Don’t most people watching want to be on the field? Haven’t we all said, “Just give me the ball and I’ll do it.” This clone may or may not be a star, but she would be so utterly reliable. No coach would ever question whether she would do her job. She would deliver every single time. She would plug the gap or make the gap, whichever. She would have sticky hands and a bomber arm and be lithe and fast, fast, fast.

Teacher Who Only Teaches Clone.  Teaching minus grading, recording tardies, cleaning the microwaves, etc. No paperwork or extra responsibilities, just 58 minutes of literature discussion.

Artist Clone. Unlimited time and resources to explore color and light and texture, to touch and juxtapose. To put one thing beside another so that one pops and one supports. To reflect The Artist, which is the glory of making art. A sub-clone would just do photography and iMovies.

I see that all my clones are perfect at their jobs. Hmmm. Maybe I am wishing for more than just clones.  I am having a disturbing image right now of myself as Galadriel realizing that even she, one of the good guys, wants to be queen of the world.  Yikes.

5-Minute Clones:

These clones only exist for 5 minutes because I don’t want to live this life, I just want to see what it’s like. Then if the clone likes it, she can stay.

Computer Geek Clone. It would be nice to approach the titanium rectangle in front of me as an equal, to intuitively know what is actually happening in amongst the teeny inner pieces, and never, ever to be stumped.  CG Clone is one of a set of triplets including Algebra Clone and I Can Read, Understand, and Follow The Manual Clone.

Jazz-Club Clone. Urban, middle of night, smoky and blue lit. Unlike me, the clone would be a smooth operator in this setting.

Lake-Life Clone. Again, not in my skill set.  Sit on this dock for 7 hours?  People do that?

Clones I am Supposed To Want But Don’t:

Princess Clone; World Traveller Clone; Life of Leisure Clone; Lottery-Winner Clone

Clones I Ought Not To Want But Do:

Naturally Skinny Clone; Thick Hair Clone

Punishment Clones:

These clones are for if I’ve done wrong and need to suffer.

I Love To Shop Clone. To me, the rhythmic screech of coat hangers on a department store rack is the eternal music of the fiery pit, but every day is Black Friday for this clone.

Baseball Mom Clone. If the sun comes up and I am still sitting on a metal bleacher at the “All Star Tournament” it is because I am dead. I had a friend who watched the sun rise as her daughter’s tournament drug on. I have never gotten over that. Speechless.

Spa Day Clone. This clone gets an all day deluxe manicure, pedicure, wax, facial, hot rock, eucalyptus massage. The View is on continual loop on the wall-mounted TV. Like Dante’s 9th level, this one is pretty bad.

Life Before Air-Conditioning Clone. Add to that a Corset-Wearing Clone for a twofer.

Geisha Clone. All luxury, but boring as dirt and then the foot-wrapping thing.

Rap Really Loud In The Car Clone. It’s bad enough pulling up beside this at a stoplight. And, yes, it does happen occasionally here in small-town USA.  It happened to me recently at a gas station and the lyrics were paralyzing.  Truly. Though I was quoting Jay-Z above when I typed, “Glory!” So make of that what you will.

Daytime TV Addict Clone. Death.

Collector Clone. This clone lives for obscure, arcane additions to the set. It doesn’t matter what it is – copper jello molds, thimbles, Precious Moments figurines – this is all that Collector Clone wants to do and talk about. Collector Clone has no soul.

I know I will, as Galadriel said, “pass the test, diminish, go into the west” and find that the lines have fallen for me in pleasant places, that I am quite content with this one life.

I have eternity to explore those other lives.

Lord, you alone are my portion and my cup; you make my lot secure.
The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance.

Psalm 16: 5,6

~

The Thing Most Anticipated

I discovered something last night: the happiest place in town, the place to go if you are needing a date night or a reminder that joy still exists in this old world is the international arrivals terminal of any major airport. I happened to be in Atlanta.

I was there to pick up the working daughter and her best friend from a tour of Israel. Usually a very routine event, the airport pickup, I found that the international airport pickup is like a free movie, or even a free trip. The girls went to Israel, but I had as much to tell about my hour at the arrivals gate. All the better because it was unanticipated, a Wow! surprise.

I hadn’t reckoned on the reunions. That’s what that terminal is all about, after all. Reunions. And of course the exotic mix of people from all over God’s earth landing in Georgia, USA.

First, Air Force family. A young mother in red with a baby in a smocked American flag bubble suit waited on a plane from Paris carrying her deployed husband. He hadn’t seen the baby since the day she was born. It was a muted reunion, but I had to remember soldiers are generally muted kinds of people. And one cute detail, the baby’s pinkie toe kept coming out of her sandal. This little piggy kept going to market.

Guy in Green. This guy’s arrivals refused to arrive. He spoke with distress and broad Wisconsin vowels into a cellphone explaining that he was there but they were not. His shorts were olive green and his t-shirt was kelly green. You might think I am going to say, “But it worked.” I’m not.

Intense Turkish Woman. Straight out of a BBC period piece, she was in an apricot chiffon sari and her eyes were dark, intense, and worried. Her mother had Parkinsons and was arriving and the daughter doubted her mother could negotiate customs alone. In her song-like speech she enquired of passing porters and luggage attendants things they could not know or answer.

Girlfriend. In an eyelet halter top, Girlfriend held a homemade sign that read, “Welcome Home, Meatball!!!!” She did a skippy dance when she spotted Meatball and the two reuned happily.  He was a Swedish meatball, by the way, not an Italian one.

Bossy Redhead. Handing out little French flags to the whole waiting fam, including Gram in a wheelchair, Redhead instructed everyone on what to do.

Embarrassing American. I am a proud American who does not look for reasons to disparage her country or countrymates. However. Of all the exotic people and garb ebbing and flowing around me, this guy looked like an ad for ‘Yacht Life’: Salmon colored outfitters shirt with flaps, vents, etc; aqua shorts; RL leather flip flops; not that there was one thing wrong with it all, it just looked a little silly on the world stage.  Though, who knows, he might have been a philanthropist or benefactor or founder of college scholarships.  (But still, the colors and all . . .)

Willowy Indian Girl. Indian women in long tunics float; they just glide.

Serbs. I have no idea if they were Serbs, but something in me just said, “Serbs!” 20 men or so all in their 20s looking fit and edgy moved together to wherever they were going – soccer practice? mercenary orientation?

Dude Ready. Unlike the Serbs who were clearly unimpressed with the watching waiters, Dude Ready was all about this moment. He had done his homework and coordinated his outfit, however he had mixed at least four metaphors. Black converse high tops, untied and artfully gaping to expose a red lining said NBA, above which were tight, rolled cuff skinny pants saying Seattle. A proud American Eagle emblazoned T brought in the teen model demographic, and last but not least, no kidding, a long lanyard hung from his pocket to his knees completing the inclusion of the Rock The South crew. I liked Dude Ready, though. He looked eager for the Great American Experiment.

The most wonderful common denominator of all these disparate groups was that, with the exception of the Serbs, when the waiters were reunited with the arrivers you could tell that the chief joy, the thing most anticipated, was to have their arms around each other. How wonderful it was to hold the person in their arms. They embraced, rocked, rubbed, patted and marveled that they were touching again.

Arms. Arms and holding are universally craved.

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This pic has nothing to do with the post, but all posts needs pics and this one is a happy one. 🙂

Johnny Clamps

Happiness Is . . .

~ Thinking you are done forever with making boxed lunches, then realizing on day one of summer that not only are you now making them for the recent-grad-turned-summer-construction-worker, but the lunches must be bigger (think meatloaf), and must be poised at the back door by 6:15 am because work starts early in the Alabama summer, and finally that the lunch must be in a manly cooler that has been banged up and seen its day. The Wonder Woman lunch box he used with pride through high school will not do on the work site, no, not at all. For those of you thinking, hey, he is 18, he can make his own lunch, I can only respond with laughter. I’ve been saying that for years and then when I see what he throws into a limp Walmart sack and calls lunch, I just. can’t. do. it. And for all your big talk, you know you can’t either.

~ Johnny clamps. The same new-minted construction worker reported after his first day on the job that he went with a site-boss to a supply site and the boss told him to look for the johnny clamps! Rather than ask the needed question – what is a johnny clamp? is it big or small? will it be labelled ‘johnny clamp’? – he moved forward with a look of determined where-the-heck-are-those-johnny-clamps? and took cues from the other guy’s manner of searching. Someone found them, I guess.

~ Three weeks with my Little Mama who is an unflagging cheerleader and fan for all her children and grandchildren. She sees the good and tells you. She rises early to read her Bible and devotional book, pen in hand underlining particularly moving phrases or thoughts. I smile though because, no joke, the whole book is underlined. 🙂

~ A smiling picture of the out-of-the-country daughter with the caption, “Just had Baba Ganoush that CHANGED MY LIFE.”

~ The first shower after the water is turned back on in your house. It started, as these things often do, with Andrew checking the mail. Perusing the power bill he grew grave and meditative. Comparing last year’s numbers for March and April, as the bill conveniently does, with this year’s, there was a clear, inexplicable uptick. The game was on. Bill in hand, he visited the power company and a clerk’s offhand comment lead him to determine that the hemorrhage, if you will, was with the old water heater. In head lamp and knee pads, he crawled under the house, confirmed his hypothesis, and proceeded to reroute the pipes in another mysterious direction to the smell of that purple sealant.
Declaring success, he turned the water back on with a flourish; the newly fitted pipe burst forth from the wall and Niagara visited our laundry room. It needed mopping anyway. I was able to look on the sunny side because this was just the first explosion. There were two more to come, as the clock ticked, mom’s flight time crept nearer and nearer, and no showers had been had by all. Suddenly, all you can think of is a shower and a glass of water. Blessedly, local plumber John Dunn, yes, just like that John Donne, came calmly to the rescue. We easily made the flight, showered and fresh. My five foot tall mother, smiling and pulling her rolling backpack through the Shuttlesworth Airport doors, made the whole flood in the laundry room and drought in the bathrooms something to remember and laugh about.

~ Barre class with Rachel Eidson. If football players can push themselves, so can I.

~ A husband’s birthday. A friend told him this morning that he was ‘playing on the back 9’ now. Well.

These things are happiness today.

“This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.”
Psalm 118:24