Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Drink It!

This is a find! Sobe Lifewater is so great I had to tell you about it. If you like CrystalLight (you know who you are), I think you will find that this is a lot better and contains no artificial sugars. Yay! The first time I looked at this I expected to turn the label over and find a bunch of artificial junk, but refreshingly...it's clean. And yes, if you are wondering if it's from the same brand that brought you the Thriller lizard commercials during the Super Bowl. Fuji Apple Pear is my personal favorite.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Houston Project 2009

Wondering why all was quiet on the Perot social media front last week? Ok, maybe you didn't notice, but we were pretty much MIA on Facebook, blog, and email. The reason being that Joey and I were involved in one of my favorite service projects of the year: Houston Project.

Houston Project is put on by Houston's First Baptist Church and is a city-wide effort to reach inner city areas of Houston with the love of Christ. For one week volunteers are sent to impoverished areas within Houston that are in need for not only food and clothing, but for the Gospel.

Normally, I have worked with the vacation Bible school part of Houston Project. It's basically VBS, but in the evenings. We usually canvas the neighborhood in the area the week before to let all the parents know. You volunteer as a Sunday school class. This year we were with the Newlywed Class that would be serving at a brand new project site in the Third Ward and we were late to sign up. My comfort zone of VBS was full and the strongest need for volunteers was with the Evangelism Team. Yikes! Evangelism in the Third Ward. Joey and I had never really done that kind of evangelism before. I prayed through it and decided that if that was what was open, then that must be where God wanted us. And on that note, He must know the words to fill my mouth in order to speak the love of Christ to these people because heaven knows I can't do that on my own. So we signed up for the Evangelism Team.

Houston's Third Ward begins just a few blocks away from the UofH campus. It's the kind of neighborhood where you would probably check to make sure your doors were locked and try not to make eye contact with the bum on the corner. Houses are small and run down with broken windows and screen doors with a sprinkling of chipped paint. There seem to be people everywhere. Walking the blocks. Gathered in small groups at corners. Watching from their front porches. The porch gathering I later found out is due mainly to the fact that many do not have air conditioning. Some without running water. Each block seems to have its own flavor. You might walk past an entire block that is structurally run down, but clean and well-kept. Others are littered with trash and the houses falling to pieces. That seems to be contagious.

Mixed in among this is Generation One. Run by a couple with a heart for reaching these people with Christ's message of love, it has an after-school program for neighborhood kids along with several other mission initiatives for the Third Ward. The VBS portion of Houston Project was stationed at the Generation One building. The program for the youth was held a few blocks away at the neighborhood YMCA. This featured a basketball tournament for the guys and a spa set up for the girls. The Evangelism Team's assignment was to split up into two groups, one building relationships with kids at the youth site and the second to hit the street and visit the people within the community. Generation One had done several service projects during the past year such as painting houses, construction work, etc. and we were to visit these homes where they had already established a relationship. The last day we would have a cookout in a vacant lot in the neighborhood.

Joey and I visited with kids in the gym the first two days. It was pretty tough. The guys were especially kept at a distance by the neigborhood guys. One thing I noticed in walking around the neighborhood, was an absence of father figures. It seems like they are distrustful of men. I was able to talk with a few girls and one in depth conversation with one girl in particular. I was also able to visit with a few of the Moms that came to watch their sons play ball.

A quick side story. Joey was walking out to his truck in front of the Gen1 site when this little boy ran up to him and said "Hey, watch this!" He proceeded to step up to Joey's truck and started punching the key pad. Click. He unlocked the truck! Joey was shocked and asked him how he did it. "Oh I watched you do it earlier." Wow. Note to self.

The third day Joey and I, along with the other 6 on the Evangelism Team knocked on neighborhood doors and talked to people on the street inviting them to come to the cookout being held the next day in the vacant lot. The other half of the team who had been knocking on doors had learned that cookies seemed to be a way to get them to let their guard down. So, we would knock on a door and offer them the cookies, ask if there was any thing we could be praying for them about, and invited them to the cookout. We only had one turn down the cookies (toothache), no one turn down prayer, and everyone seemed interested in the cookout. "Free food, really? Why are you doing that? Ok, I might come by." We made friends especially with the people across the street from the vacant lot. Mrs. Christine, Mrs. Angel, and Mrs. Linda seemed to be at the hub at their block. They knew what was going on with everybody and they were extremely helpful in pointing us in the right direction.

The cookout was so much fun. Word got around. We served about 120 or so people hot dogs and hamburgers. There was a man named "Shaggy" who had a large van with a DJ like sound system that played music for us the entire time. A volunteers played dominoes with people down the street. I think Joey and Aaron said it best "It's like we're just grilling and hanging out with a bunch of friends." They were all so welcoming and thankful. The kids of the ladies mentioned above were there and were incredibly sweet. We recommended some of these kids to Generation One's after school program so hopefully they will be able to get involved. We are hopeful that establishing these relationships will soften the ground for Generation One.

Joey and I learned so much from hanging out with these people. Evangelism in the Third Ward is first about meeting people's needs. Meet their needs and then they give you access to learn about their heart. I learned that these neighborhood kids are incredibly creative. They are not dependent on technology for fun like most kids now, but instead use their imagination. As you can see they were enamored with learning how to flip a hamburger. That and a big tent was enough to keep them entertained for hours. I learned that broken hearts are broken hearts, whether you are in the suburbs or the Third Ward. I learned that these parents want just like any parent for their kids to have a better life than the one that they have. I learned that giving someone a hot dog can sometimes feel like giving someone $50. I learned that the favorite condiment of the Third Ward is mayonnaise.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Birthday Blunders

Yesterday was Joey's birthday. Happy Birthday, Baby! I love you!

I began to think about what I was going to get Joey for his birthday back in May - two months ago. The plan was to get concert tickets to see one of his favorite bands, Counting Crows. I tend to get him concert tickets for his gifts, last being Marc Broussard, so I thought if an actual physical gift idea presented itself before then, I would go with it. Sure enough, Joey tells me several weeks ago that he REALLY wanted a backyard umbrella to go with the patio table and that I should get that for his birthday. Ok, will do. It's all settled then. We'll pick out the umbrella together so he can get exactly what he wants. Birthday genius. The plan will be to make a cake, plan a few special little surprise notes and such during the day, card, then we'll pick out the umbrella together. That was the plan.

Fast forward to the day before Joey's birthday at 4:30. I get an email from him and at the very end of the email teasing me, he asks "Did you get my present yet?" I wrote back, yes, that I had in mind that we pick out the umbrella together so that he could get exactly what he wanted. He emailed back, "Ok, what about my personal gift from you? We can get the umbrella later together. My favorite thing is to get something personal" He's teasing of course to find out what his gift is, but What?! Hold the phone! The umbrella is not the personal gift? Oh no. Tactical error. This gives me exactly 3 hours to come up with a "personal" gift for the guy who has everything before I am labeled The World's Most Terrible Gift Giving Wife Ever. No fair! I had thought about this for a really long time and thought the plan was set! I refuse to be labeled.

Ok, all is not lost, I can still get the concert tickets as originally planned. Checking Ticketmaster, I found that the date in Houston has been cancelled. Lovely. This is why I had started thinking about this back in May. He's tough to buy for. Clothes? Too difficult to fit his size for the most part as well as...he's picky. Tech gadgets and cycling gizmos would need specific instruction and it's too late for that. Yard stuff? Sounds like Father's Day. Aghhhhh!

I took off work 10 minutes early to beat Joey home. Left a note saying I was running errands. A plan began to materialize. I ruined a few of Joey's new and favorite J-Crew t-shirts last month in an unfortunate accident. They fit him perfectly and are some of the only t-shirts he likes because they're not too tight and they have his size. I dried them by accident and midgetized them. He refused to wear them saying that he looked like a frat guy trying to wear a muscle shirt. I know they fit, he likes them, and I'm sort of righting a wrong. Perfect!

Then I stopped by a bookstore and picked up two books that I knew he has been wanting to read: Glenn Beck's Common Sense and Angels & Demons. Success at last! Phew!
His birthday went really well. He says he doesn't like a big fuss to be made, but I don't believe it. One who asks for personalized gifts secretly likes a big fuss. So despite his being an Eeyore about it just being another day, it was given full attention. I made birthday cupcakes that we took with us to Bible study last night. (btw, my sprinkles bounced right off the icing. Not as much cupcakes with sprinkles as they were cupcakes on a bed sprinkles...what gives?). Emailed him throughout the day cheesy love song lyrics expressing my dying devotion. I know he loved that one! Beat his Mom's 5:30AM Birthday Call by a few minutes to be the first to wish him happy birthday (groggily). Referred to him all day as "The Birthday Boy" - again, I KNOW he love this. And of course, gave him his personalized gifts. He liked them!
This weekend we will be shopping for the impersonal patio umbrella. :)

Monday, July 6, 2009

The Borrowers

Joey and I are now card carrying members of The Library. Crazy exciting, right? What can I say? That's just how we roll. This idea came about during our budgeting for Dave Ramsey when we realized that we are apparently building a book collection to rival that of the Library of Congress. Unfortunately, ours is not funded by tax dollars although, in light of current events, I have considered appealing for stimulus funding.

The library holds good memories for me. My Dad, being an avid reader, has made a weekly trip to the library ever since I can remember. He still has a little cabinet where he keeps his weekly library books in the kitchen. I got to tag along with him and as such became a bookworm at an early age. I would look forward to this trip each week and would go back and forth on which books I would pick out. Nancy Drew? Maybe Anne of Green Gables or Little Women? How to choose? In fact, I loved the library so much that there was a short period of time in elementary school during which I thoroughly believed that a career path as a librarian was in my bright future. What could be more heavenly than being in a building filled with books? Yes, I was a nerd. My plan was to make friends with the librarians at our local library and learn the Dewey Decimal System. Then I would vie for a summer job and gets hands on experience. From there that would catapult me into a markedly successful career and an assured position for Best Librarian Ever. As you can see, I liked to think big. Turns out that making friends with librarians is tough business. As all verbal communication ends with shhhhhh, you are confined to communicating with your eyes and a smile. It doesn't help when you return your books late either. So librarian was replaced, I think with a short stint as a future marine biologist.

Fast forward to today. I am still a nerd. I have convinced my husband, who has always been The Cool Kid to be The Nerd for a while as well. He has yet to pick out his first library book. My first book from our library is The Hiding Place, by Corrie Ten Boom. I have been wanting to reread that one for a while. Small problem, or rather large I guess. And this tickled me. The only copy in the library is one in large print. There are positives to this. I can read it from across the room.

I would let you borrow it, but then again, that's what I'm doing. Oh and by the way, the library has gone modern and now your library card is on your key chain! I'm sure the Best Librarian Ever came up with that one.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Losing Your Cool

Oh man. Today the AC was out on the first floor of our company. It started yesterday with our marketing office. And then the AC drought made its way through our entire department and eventually crept its way to include or rather disclude the whole first floor today. It was somewhere in the eighties in our office, but we persevered, not wanting to be relocated and thus severed from the codependent relationship that is our work and our desk. So we loaded up on iced water and pooled fans from other departments. The show must go on! The increased water intake made for excuses to momentarily retreat to the five degrees cooler oasis that was the restroom and the whir of the fans left my suitemate and I yelling at each other. Not because we were moody from the heat, but just because we couldn't hear over the fans. "Can I borrow your stapler!!" "What, you need cow paper!!" "No, the stapler, can I borrow it?!!" "I don't get it, what's cow paper?!!" After yelling back and forth a few times, we finally decide to turn off the fan. "Oh, so now cow paper then?"

It was a compressor. Duh, right? Why didn't we think to plug the compressor in? Ok, not that easy. A new one had to be air lifted by crane to the top of the building. We should be fully compressed by tomorrow. There are a few things that I have learned today. First, mirages are real. Second, sweat keeps fly aways truly away. Third, I know I need to THANK YOU LORD FOR AIR CONDITIONING!!