Big ol' confession time: last week's 7 Quick Takes were partly a ruse to trick my brother Todd into thinking that I would be WITH my family at the Christ Church retreat all weekend in case he had any inkling that instead I'd be surprising him at his 40th birthday party in New York.
If you read carefully you'll see that -- technically -- I did not lie. It was my family's second year to attend the retreat; I just left out the part that I would not be able to join them because MY PARENTS FLEW ME TO NY TO SURPRISE MY BROTHER!
Imagine my disappointment when after arriving safely to my parents' living room Thursday night I opened my email and found this note from Todd:
Confession to make ---I needed to look in YM's e-mail today for a mailing label and noticed an e-mail that took me quite by surprise!!!! I am so sorry to ruin the surprise ---but am VERY EXCITED about the surprise of Tamara joining us this weekend!!!In a last-ditch attempt to keep the surprise, I replied to all with this note:
Well, smarty-pants, I've got bad news for you. At the last minute I had to stay behind in Austin to perform an interpretive dance number for the Christ Church Talent Show. Brian and I have started an interpretive dance ministry called the Neither the Jew Nor the Gree-cian Urns.To which my sister -- in a hopeless attempt to shore up my interpretive dance story -- replied:
So have a happy birthday weekend up there without us. Please stop everything at 7:00 PM on Saturday night to pray for our dance number to touch the hearts of people and draw them toward Christ.
Oh, Tam. We will miss you. I can understand why you would feel that this is so important though. Lord knows we need more Grecian Urns for Jesus.*note: the Grecian Urns thing is a family joke from the 2011 family vacation. You kinda had to be there (or have watched The Music Man an inordinate amount of times). I'm blaming my instinct to twist the already wrung-out reference into a Christian-ized attempt at humor on the fact that my parents let me read too many Bible verses when I was growing up.
My family did, in fact, participate in the Christ Church Talent Show, representing us well. Brian with a revival of his Top 10 List schtick (ala, David Letterman) and Kendra with a gorgeous duet of Falling Slowly (ala, my favorite movie).
(here's a 54 second clip; sorry I couldn't figure out how to make the video smaller)
|Three generations celebrate Todd's birthday brunch at Apple Hills (apple pancakes and apple cider, of course!)|
Quality time with this little guy (almost six months old now!):
|six months old and already trained to smile at a camera!|
He has the gift of hospitality -- allowing his Texas aunt not just one but TWO opportunities to rock him to sleep. Ahhhhhh......
|my mother's Betty Crocker cookbook with notes for each pie-baking occasion through the years|
Leaf-pile playtime (oh, the gorgeous leaves...)
Superstorm Sandy (still Hurricane Sandy at that time) blew blustery threats all the way up into my parent's small village in New York state, cancelling my flights and stranding me two extra days. People in the Southern Tier of New York take the threats seriously, having just barely gotten back on their feet from the second devastating flood in five years last fall. We prayed -- not wishing the storm on others, of course -- God's mercy on all the little riverbed towns.
Dad and I spent Sandy's arrival day raking leaves in his out-of-town neighbor's yard and out of her gutters. While we raked we watched the wind, first from the west then switching from the east, scuttle dry leaves up the street. If we had a weather vane, it'd have been careening back and forth like in all those storm movies.
A neighbor walked to the curb across the street and shouted "You're a good neighbor. You're gonna get to heaven for this!" My dad kept raking and laughed, "If I do, it'll only be because of grace."
We're praying that same grace over all those who fell under the worst of the storm. Grace and mercy, please Lord....
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