Youth Sunday & Other Forms of Torture

We woke up at the crack of dawn to get to church by 8 am for the first of two back to back services led by the youth of the congregation.

A couple weeks ago the boys were asked to perform a Mozart duet as the closing voluntary. Those two short weeks felt like an eternity in hell, during which time I was roasting on a spit in slooooooow motion.

Just learn one page! I exhorted as they sturmed und dranged over the impossibility of pulling it together at such short notice. You can play the first page twice!

Please don’t be mean to your brother! I begged my older son, who becomes a complete tyrant when it comes to music.

You’re getting there! Just keep practicing!!! I nagged for two weeks straight.

Hey, Olympic committee! I totally deserve a gold medal for my performance of a lifetime! And a trip to Disney World. By myself.


And then the church sprung the torture known as “Rite 13” on me. I have now been subjected to this particular agony three times…Thank God it’s the last one I’ll ever have to endure.


This girl laughed in my face during the whole ceremony as tears leaked out of my eyes, and I guess that was a blessing, because it probably saved me from the ugly crying that would have disgraced us all…

It’s a wrap. I’m going to bed!

Weekend Snapshots 22


7 am. My daughter and I headed to the Charlottesville Farmer’s Market at the crack of dawn. Her Destination Imagination team is fundraising for their trip to the Global Tournament, and they procured a spot at the market to sell their produce bags. Despite high hopes and the kids’ best efforts, including my girl’s creative attempt at eye-catching millinery, the bags were not a big money-maker.

When the totals were tallied, and factoring in the $6.00 I paid for parking, our family unit made negative $1.20. Oh well…we still had fun!

10:10 am. Soccer, naturally.

I have expressly forbidden my three young soccer players to do headers…Do they listen to me?

Damn it! There go her SAT scores…

8 pm. We went to my husband’s concert with Zephyrus, an early music vocal ensemble.

It was a beautiful performance, but it was a rather late night for the younger ones. This is how they looked during the intermission:

They perked up (a little) post-concert:


9:15 am.

We got to church a little early so my daughter could learn her instrumental part for next Sunday’s service…

6 pm. My son and I took some photos before the two of us headed back to church for his confirmation examination.

I am just about to finish up my three-year term as an elder of our church. To be completely honest, I am delighted to be stepping down. I hate going to meetings and I’m terrible at making decisions, the two things which pretty much make up the job description of an elder. There are three things I have enjoyed though…I’ve enjoyed saying loudly and often, “That’s ‘RULING Elder’ to YOU!” Cracks me up every time. Unaccountably, it doesn’t make my family so much as crack a smile anymore. Twice now I have been able to serve communion to my own children, and I will always cherish the experience of watching them come down the aisle toward me to receive the “Bread of Life” and “Cup of Blessing.” Finally, tonight I was able to be at the “examination” (really a friendly conversation) for my oldest son’s confirmation as a member of the church.

The confirmands and elders were scattered at different tables. A boy my own son has known since they were toddlers was seated at my table. It turns out, the real confirmation was that I am the world’s biggest sap. I was so moved by how thoughtful and well-spoken he was, it was all I could do not to break down and start blubbering in a completely unseemly fashion. He’s a tall, handsome young man now, but all I could see was the toddler he was…I swear it was only yesterday. Of course, I was thinking of my own son, and how he was faring at his table on the other side of the room.

As we drove back home tonight, we had one of those rare talks that only seem to happen in the car, in the dark, when the moon is in the seventh house, and Jupiter aligns with Mars…We talked about how lucky he has been to have had such stability in his life…to have grown up in a place he’ll always know as home, and to have been surrounded by really good people since the day he was born. We talked about what it means to live an honorable life. He told me how he answered the questions posed to him at his own table. The last thing the confirmands were asked to discuss was an experience of grace they may have had in their own lives. My son reported that he hadn’t been able to answer that particular question, because he didn’t think he’d had one yet.

I didn’t tell him this, but that talk with him in the car tonight was one of the sweetest experiences of grace I‘ve ever had.

Weekend Snapshots 20

Last weekend was perfect, because of all the things that didn’t happen. The snow wiped clean a full slate of activities, and we got to stay home in our pjs all weekend long, reading and napping and drinking hot cocoa. This weekend was perfect, because of all the things that did happen…


My beloved book group met this Friday. My friend, who has been hosting us for years, always puts out a lavish spread, which includes a decadent dessert she’s made and tea served in beautiful heirloom tea cups. Last month Calamity Jane here broke the handle of the one in the front. My friend let me back into her house anyway, and she even managed to repair the handle with some super glue. Our book group nights are always such a special occasion, and so I like to get dressed up appropriately:

What could be better than kicking off the weekend hanging out with dear friends who love you even when you break their precious things, and to do it in my pjs?! (Pajamas seem to be the common denominator for all perfect weekends).


On Saturday morning I got an impromptu private concert with two of my favorite musicians:

Later that day another group of old friends and I got together over lunch. It was especially lovely, because it was a mini-reunion with our friend, who has moved away from Charlottesville. Drat! Forgot to take a photo! Next time, friends, next time!

As I drove away to the next appointment on my schedule, I got the news that the house we’ve been trying to sell is UNDER CONTRACT! Yahoooooooo!!!

Saturday was the first night of the two weeks that our church will be hosting PACEM, a roving homeless shelter that operates during the cold winter months in various churches around Charlottesville.

It was my first time ever being the nightly meal coordinator. My husband volunteered to make his famous lasagna:

and I had a willing crew of helpers, which included these three hooligans:


I wrote about Rite 13 here and here. The last time I went through this brutal and sadistic ritual, I had some warning and time to prepare myself for the ordeal. This time I was completely caught off guard and the consequences were absolutely devastating.

After the service, I recovered enough to insist on taking a photo to commemorate the momentous occasion of my son’s Rite 13 and my public breakdown. Predictably, he began to complain about having to stop and take a photo. What I could never have expected were the shocking words that came out of his older brother’s mouth:  “She gave birth to you. Take the picture!”

Holy smokes! There is a God. And He and now I’m thinking more likely – She is good. Really, really good. 

The kids all insisted on closed-mouth smiles, because they were afraid goldfish crackers would be stuck in their teeth…

And I even got to get a photo with my son, because I did give birth to him after all!