Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Cool Cats

These hipsters are coming to visit tomorrow.  I can't wait.

This is probably post Carpenters concert. Pat and Mike love themselves some Carpenters.  Can't you see the "On Top of the World" look in their eyes?

What's not to love about this photo? Their tresses are out of control...basically they're a Pantene ad. Their mix of patterns is fun.  They're wearing lovely smiles...and best of all?  They look oh so happy.  They still look this happy.

Mom, Dad and Katie will have a whirlwind of fun which is just the way I like it.  We'll enjoy time in Scottsville and catch a Nationals game in D.C. (Please oh please let them win.  Bless their hearts--they're in a bit of a slump.)

My brother Sam will join us and on Sunday Scottsville Baptist will install me as pastor.  Many favorites--old and new--will be there.  I am blessed.  Everyone is welcome to join at 4:00 p.m.  But first I must finish a sermon about a sheet from the sky filled with animals!  Never a dull moment.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Handbells and the Holy Spirit

When I arrived at the association meeting I parked on the lower level of the lot.  As I was walking toward the building I noticed several parking spaces near the door labeled ELDERLY.  (How considerate. Shout out Broadus Memorial!)  And of course...all around me elderly folks are NOT parking in those spaces.  They're walking up from the lower level with me.  This is a classic move by the Greatest Generation—always thinking of others, always assuming someone else could use help first. We have so much to learn.

I walked inside and found a seat.  I am embarrassed to admit this...but I was not looking forward to the afternoon.  I was tired and not in the mood for an extended meeting.  I share my initial hesitation because it was—hands down—the best association meeting I have attended.

The moderator conducted business at the beginning and end in a timely fashion and the lion share of our time was spent in worship.  Both speakers were exceptional.  The first speaker was chaplain of the Fluvanna Correctional Center for Women.  I wish you could have heard her.  Julie's frank, yet compassionate words about the prisoners to whom she ministers was inspiring.  She works in the prison every day and organizes worship services on Saturday afternoon and Sunday evening.  Worship attendance averages between 150 and 250.  "The gym is transformed into a sanctuary." Her words painted a picture.   It's like we were there.

Julie has organized a worship leadership team of inmates.  There is a choir, praise dance team and (are you ready?)...two handbell groups.  When Julie told us prisoners were playing handbells I was out.  Tuesday afternoons were my favorite as an elementary schooler because John Cashion picked us up for handbell rehearsals.  I loved playing handbells, so the thought of prisoners knowing God's love and playing handbells?  It got very misty in the back row.

So there I was tearing an association meeting...on a Sunday afternoon...because God's love is that surprising and beautiful.  Julie said the women come hungry for the Word and God shows up at the prison.  It was inspiring, friends.  Julie told us "In the midst of this hellhole, God is alive and well."  Thanks be to God.

The second speaker was Dean Miller who works at the Virginia Baptist Mission Board.  Dean gave an excellent presentation on More Than Nets.  I was impressed by project's holistic approach, which not only provides mosquito nets to protect Ghanians from malaria—the project also provides education and funds for church planting.  Hundreds of churches have already been planted by sisters and brothers in Ghana.  Physical needs are being met and the gospel is being preached.  I hope Scottsville Baptist prays about joining in this mission.

We closed worship with communion.  It was special to receive the elements from clergy pals, some of whom I study the Bible with every Wednesday.  As soon as the benediction was offered I couldn't help but blurt out "That was amazing" because it was.  It really was.

I was preparing to leave when lo and behold—a room of snacks was announced.  I mean...icing on the literal cake.  They even had the good cheese.  God bless them.  One of my clergy pals whispered "If we play our cards right, this could be dinner."  For about 12,000 reasons it was a great day to be at a Baptist association meeting.

People lingered and enjoyed one another's company for a long time.  I was handing out my business card like it was going out of style because the Holy Spirit was up in that place.  It was a nice afternoon.
Thanks to all those who planned the meeting.  Well done.  I can't wait for the next one.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

America's Pastime (or more aptly named "boring you with baseball")

My first Opening Day at Nats Park was amazing.

I come by my love of baseball naturally.  My gram would take score while listening to St. Louis games on the radio in her kitchen.  How great is that?  My dad dresses in full-on Cardinal gear while watching games on television.  Mike's love is real, folks.  Also Dad's game time sound effects are entertaining.  He screams like Marv from Home Alone after Kevin McAllister shows him what's up.

Since I was a girl my family played "pick a player" when we go to the stadium.  Rules:  Every McKown selects one player.  If your player hits a home run, everyone owes you $1.  Likewise you pay $1 when someone else's player hits a home run.  (We haven't adjusted for inflation.)

My first "pick a player" player was Jack Clark and he played for the Cardinals from 1985 to 1987.  My allowance was $1 a week so it was a risky endeavor for a kindergartener.  Mike and Pat = unafraid of accepting dollar bills from children since the early 80s.  I love that. 

My family will be here later in April for a game.  Dad's "pick a player" will undoubtedly be someone NOT on the Nats.  I will look at him with disdain but he will not care.

I lately added "visit every baseball park" to my bucket list.  This summer I will visit my eleventh  team park (the Milwaukee Brewers) at my family reunion.  I like visiting ballparks as much as I like visiting national basically...I am very cool.  (Jokes!)  I have memories of each one:

  • St. Louis Cardinals
    • Learned to love the game at Busch Stadium 
    • Ozzie Smith backflips
    • Classy fans
  • Chicago Cubs
    • Ivy on the outfield walls!
  • Oakland A's
    • The stadium is gargantuan 
    • I've never been that cold at a game in my life
  • Boston Red Sox
    • The Green Monster!
    • These people are for real about the game
  • New York Mets
    • I saw the Nats play and WIN at CitiField! 
    • Was told to "sit down" by Mets fan when I throttled out of my seat in merriment and glee.  IT WAS AMAZING.  I felt like a true fan.  (Okay: so it was awkward and I was a bit distraught, but completely worth it in retrospect.)
    • First time I had sushi at a ball game
  • New York Yankees
    • These people are also for real about the game
    • Excellent snacks
    • Saw Ichiro play his first game for the Yankees
  • Cincinnati Reds
    • First time I sat on level one
  • Atlanta Braves
    • The Braves are the nemesis of my teams (Cardinals, Nats) but I liked Turner Field
  • Baltimore Orioles
    • First time I rode an escalator at a game
  • Washington Nationals
    • I don't have pleasant memories of RFK, although that's where I started to love the Nats.  They were down and out then and needed fans so I signed up.  At one game it felt like 90% of the fans were for the other team.  Their boos overpowered our cheering.  So depressing--but then things got better!
    • We've entered the promised land! (biblical metaphor--can't help it)
    • Nats Park combines my love of politics, history and baseball.  Can't beat it.
    • Nats Park is so DC.
    • Our mascots are presidents of the US.  HISTORY!  Our newest addition is President Taft who we call 'Bill' which feels too personal (how about William?) but I'll get used to it
    • I always hear the John Adams soundtrack blaring, which tickles me to no end
    • We sing "God Bless America" in addition to "Take me out to the Ball Game"
    • We salute soldiers who are recuperating at Walter Reed.  They sit in a special section and we give them a standing ovation every game
    • There is more...but I'll leave that for another post.
Please please please do yourself a favor and enjoy America's pastime this summer!
Go Nats!  Our first of many curly Ws.