I started this blog to keep my church, friends and family updated on my year volunteering in Katrina recovery with the Presbyterian Church (USA). I've now signed on for a second year working in disaster recovery and another year living in Mississippi. It's getting good....

Friday, August 15, 2008

Final Thoughts

Jesus answered him, "What I am doing you do not know now, but afterward you will understand." (John 13: 7)

When I left Baltimore, Maryland for Gulfport, Mississippi nearly two years ago, I knew I was in for an adventure, but I had no idea what that really meant.

I thought I was going to go help some hurting people. I had no idea that hurting people could help me so much. And I had no idea that I could hurt people so much.

I thought I'd be able to make a difference and help repair some homes. I had no idea that I'd be welcomed into people's families just for showing up, regardless of whether I got anything done to help rebuild their "house".

I thought I'd do a little case management and make sure no one slipped through the cracks. I had no idea how big the cracks were, and that I'd allow some of my neighbors to slip.

I thought I was going to learn about faith, living in an intentional christian community with 5 strangers. I had no idea that my home church would teach me so much about faith and support and love from more than 1000 miles away.

I thought I might eat some fun things. I had no idea I'd become addicted to hot sauce and sweet tea.

I thought I might make some new friends. I had no idea I'd build a second family.

I thought I was going for 10 months. I had no idea I'd be there for almost 2 years.

I thought I'd gain some insight and direction into my future path. I had no idea I'd leave more lost/open to the mystery of what I'll be called to do next.

I thought I'd figure out how to re-open my heart after the loss of my sister, and the near loss of my faith that followed. I had no idea that I'd learn that my heart's journey is really a forever process, and how seemingly everyone else I meet is in it with me, in a way, recovering from their own loss of hope.

I thought I'd pick up some new skills. I had no idea that would include driving a forklift, drywall finishing, pulling electrical wire, mastering trailer septic maintenance, and creative ways to use a palate or two of expiring peanut butter.

In two years in Mississippi I have been more sure of God's presence among us, and more unsure of God's presence in my daily life, at any given moment. I have laughed more and cried more than ever before. I have seen the absolute best and worst of some church people, some homeless friends, and some perfect strangers, as well as of myself. And along the way, I hope I was able to help out a few neighbors in need, even if just a bit.

Just before I moved away, one of my peers (another who'd moved to the Coast post-Katrina to help out) sat and chatted with me for a few hours. He asked me what was the biggest lesson I'd learned during my time on the Coast. I said that my eyes had been re-opened to a colorful, messy world. I'm embarrassed to say that when I get stressed, I shut down my color-vision and choose to the see the world in black and white; right and wrong. To me, that means you are either a good person or a bad one. Agencies are either doing things right or they are wrong. People are either worthy of my friendship and love or they are not.

That is ridiculous. I know that. But I keep slipping back into it. My black and white structured world helps me cope with the confusion, loss, questions, doubt, unknown, that we face every day. The key being, if you live in a black and white world, you never have to forgive anyone: the people who've wronged you, a neighbor who didn't offer to help, a church member who lied, a politician who cheated, that dog who chewed your favorite sweater, agencies who didn't follow through on their promises, the government who stood by watching idly, a God who allowed a whole Coast of people to get wiped out, or even (gulp) yourself. When you live in a black and white world, like I do much of the time, you get to stay angry and righteous because people are just wrong! You never let go of that grudge against the bad folk/system/creator.

What I re-learned over these two years, is that we are all called to live in the mess that is the spectrum of gray. We are all hurting and angry and frustrated. None of us can live up to the standards we set for ourselves or for each other. Setting black and white standards of right and wrong in order to provide structure (and room for judgement) is not our job. Our job is to love. To love regardless of right or wrong, of merit or effort.

I am amazed at how many chances I've been given to love people over the past two years. There were plenty of times I came through on that call, and plenty of times when I failed. I live in the grey. We all do. And I think the beauty of the gray is that we're not alone there. God is with us, calling us to stay in the grey and to keep trying. And somehow, with God's grace and love the gray world is turned to color for me- full of His light, and His joy, and His peace, and His love.

I'm going to attempt to carry this perspective with me as I go on to new adventures in new places...adventures and places still very unknown to me. I'm also going to try to bring along some sweet tea.

To all of you who have loved me in the midst of all my gray over the past two years:
THANK YOU! THANK YOU! THANK YOU! I love you and all the color you bring to my life, always!

Saturday, August 09, 2008


Just a quick note to let you all know that I made it to Chicago. It was a long drive and I have yet to catch up on all the sleep I've missed in the past week or so, but I am here. Eddie and I are getting adjusted to city life- he barks and sniffs at everything (very unlike him) and I keep getting yelled at for calling people sir or ma'am. Guess some of the south really took hold, eh?

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

On the road again.

It's my last night in Gulfport. I'm almost done packing/cleaning/working. Tomorrow I hit the road for the two-day trip to Chicago.

Today I... took a co-worker to a meeting to (hopefully) start a fall partnership between our two agencies, submitted my last two homeowner grant applications, closed ten cases, cleaned out two years worth of files/folders/scrap paper from my office, cleaned out my trailer fridge, wrote a letter to my home church, packed two packages that I've been meaning to mail for months, returned $65 worth of goods to Walmart, cleaned out the blackberry/email/work computer, enjoyed a final supper with coworkers and friends at one of my favorite Gulfport restaurants, documented everything I do at work and where I left everything that needs still to be done, organized Eddie's food and toys for the trip, and said a big prayer that all the stuff I've so carefully packed actually fits in the mini-van tomorrow.

Tomorrow I will... do a final clean of the trailer, turn in my blackberry/computer/keys, drop off a few files at the office, drive to New Orleans to pick up the car and my co-pilot and her dog and her stuff before returning to Gulfport to repack the minivan, mail a few items at the post office, and drive off to Oxford (Emma's house) for the night.

There is a sappy, reflective, crap-I've-spent-two-years-on-the-coast-and-that's-taught-me-this-about-God-Family-Community-and-the-meaning-of-life post coming...but it didn't fit on the to do list this week......

I will say, though, that I am all full of love for all of you who've been supporting and praying for me these past two years. Shoot me a little prayer for this transition if you will.

More adventures to come...

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Pausing for a good laugh

By now you know that I am now in the throws of packing, which has been a two week process thus far. I've somehow managed to cram two years of life on the Coast into a 240 SqFt trailer. Dislodging, disassembling, cleaning, reorganizing, and packing all of that so that it will fit with me, my friend Jessie (and her stuff), and two dogs in a rented mini-van, has been quite the chore and it is totally stressing me out.

Fortunately, some dear friends of mine had the foresight months and months ago to imagine my stress level during this process and they planted a little comic relief.

Let me back up....in the beginning of November 2007, I went out of town for a weekend to visit my friends in Northern Mississippi. My PDA buds back here in Gulfport took that opportunity to JIF my trailer. If you haven't been JIFFED, please refer to the photos below.

This week, 9 months after the JIFFING, I have rediscovered 2 cans carefully tucked away, buried with my oh-so-important belongings (that haven't been touched in at least those 9 months).

When I messaged Dan (on of the JIFFERS) about the new finds, he told me that JIF was the gift that keeps on giving. I'm not sure about that, but I do think that laughter is a pretty darn special gift....especially after all these months....especially now.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

4 days to go...

And so the countdown continues.

I've been pushing pretty hard this past week to try and get everything done before I leave- packing my trailer, packing my office, pushing cases through funding roundtables, visiting homeowners, tying up transition plans,saying goodbye to friends and work contacts, working on India trip plans, finalizing moving plans, searching for a cell phone, repairing my laptop, cat sitting, and trying not to burst into tears at any given moment. All of this was complicated by a few issues- I was unexpectedly left as the only staff member on the coast for a week- a week when 4 long term volunteers terminated their service with us and needed collection of their receipts/blackberries/keys/credit cards/etc, exit interviews, rides to the airport, etc...and in the middle of all that, my back also went out, so I have to spend several hours a day laying flat on the floor just to be able to function the rest of the day.

There is NO way I will get it all done. Not a chance.

But somehow, I've become okay with that. I had a good chat with one of the smartest women I've ever known, who also happens to be the friend who's known me the longest, and she helped to open my eyes to this: As much as I don't like to admit it, this work is bigger than me, this agency is bigger than me, this mission is bigger than me. If I don't get it done, someone else will pick it up. PDA actually had interviews for my position this week, so it looks like they will be hiring someone to come and take my place soon. Yes, it's possible, Erin, for someone else to do you job- probably better than you. You weren't the only one God called down here to help out. So get over yourself. Do what you can without busting your back/bursting into tears, say a little prayer, and let the rest go. I think I'll tattoo that on the inside of my arm, in case I forget.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

The beginning of the end.

I've got 10 days left living on the Coast.

Today was my last worship service at New Life Community Church. I bawled through the last couple of songs. I said goodbye to Roberta and Harold, two church members who've welcomed me into their home time and time again over the past two years. I made plans to have dinner with the Castlemans this week to say goodbye to their family. I'm going over to their place tomorrow, but I don't know how I'll be able to leave.

Last week I bid farewell to my co-worker Wilf, who's tearful hug set me off crying instantly. I also had a goodbye lunch with two amazing women, SallyLodge and Grace, and because I couldn't bring myself to say goodbye to them, I invited myself over to their house next week for one more visit.

I've spent months and months saying goodbye to others who've left the Coast: one-week volunteers, long-term volunteers, roommates and friends. But me leaving here always seemed so far off. Saying goodbye to these friends, these permanent fixtures, these rocks of support and faith and love, is so hard.

And its just beginning.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Gone Fishin'

(BEWARE- Horrible puns ahead! Proceed with caution.)

Let me start by explaining that I am no fisherwoman. Not at all. Fishing has never interested me. I love being on the water, being on boats, and drinking beer in the daytime, but the finishing part has just never appealed to me. I'm not good at being quiet or patient. I'm not careful enough to be trusted with sharp hooks.

The only memory I have of fishing during my growing up years was when my dad took us out off of Chincoteague Island. As I remember it, on that trip, after however many hours of us not catching anything, we returned to the marina where dad purchased some fish and threw them at me in the parking lot so I could tell mom that we caught the fish.

So yesterday, when I hit the bayou with Kevin and Virginia, I decided to just go enjoy the company and try not to get too sunburned.

Then I started fishing.

Um, okay, so those of you who know me at all know that I can be quite competitive, especially with myself. I caught a little perch my first cast out. We had to throw it back, but I'd caught it. I was pretty excited! Then I caught a bigger one. We kept it. Then another. Then a googly-eyed something. Then a few more big perch. Then a catfish. Insert wild on-boat dancing here. Then two more catfish. I almost caught a gator at one point! I don't know if Kevin is a fish whisperer or what, but he'd found the spot. We were catching all kinds of stuff. On nearly every cast. No boring. No quiet. It was active and exciting and just a whole lot of fun. I was hooked (I told you to beware!).

Virginia and I were catching them so fast (and refusing to take them off our own hooks) that Kevin had us open the cooler and he spent most of his time tossing our fish in from the other side of the boat. My spot on the boat was next to the cooler of caught fish.

That's where my perfect day (did I mention that it was a bit overcast for most of the morning so I didn't fry my skin?) went a bit off. I could hear the fish flapping around in the cooler, desperate for their watery homes. It was horrible. So now not only was I ripping apart live worms with my bare hands and jabbing them through with the hook over and over again, but I was also torturing these poor fish for hours as they struggled for life. Um, nice, Erin. Kevin promised me that we'd eat them all, so it wouldn't be a waste, and I decided that was enough to keep me from dumping the cooler over the boat. Also, I might catch something bigger, better. Must keep fishing.

We went on to Kevin's neighbor's fish camp. A true bayou gem. I mean it. So many antlers on the wall, a stuffed bobcat over the door, and a toilet that you flush with a bucket of bayou water. I know my photos won't do that place justice. But it was welcome shade from the noon-day sun and a chance to wash my wormy hands. Virginia and I took quick naps on the dock and then we all caught a few more fish and a couple of blue crabs and we headed for home. If I measured the day on the goals I'd set out earlier, to just to enjoy the company of my two good friends and to avoid getting sunburned, I'd completed a very successful day!

That night, we feasted on a dinner of fried fish, boiled crabs, and french fries. It all tasted so great. We talked about the killing of the worms, the catching of the fish, the slow fish death, and the eating of the meal. I told them what I always say when issues of morality and meat/fish-eating come up- science tells me that my teeth were made to eat meat. Also, I find meat tasty. I put those two together and I've always been okay with it.

But I've never had to catch/kill my own meat before.

While we were on the boat, Virginia asked if this was the kind of dominion we were supposed to have over all the animals and beasts and fish and creeping things? I'm not sure. I'm also not sure my old answer to the meat eating question is going to continue to work for me.

Got a lil' more fishin' to do....

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Praying for folks in Dolly's path.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Seriously, FEMA?

Okay, if you have a minute, read this article (AP, via WLOX) about FEMA's new disaster housing "plan". Here's my favorite part of the story:

"There is a 60-day comment period for the draft strategy, which is important because FEMA did not consult with many interested parties - including the National Emergency Management Association, the organization which represents state emergency managers, during the past two years when it was working on the strategy."

The WORST part about the disaster "industry" is that we stink at working together. I know that there are some more veteran professionals in the field who would tell me that things are so much better now than they were in 1967, but, come on?! Organizations will say they have learned from 9-11 and Katrina, and are now committed to building relationships, partnerships and coalitions, but I am looking at the Iowa flooding response and seeing a lot of the same mistakes being made. In an effort to respond quickly, everyone acts without talking things through. No planning, visioning, systems, partnerships. Half of one agency is acting and the other half doesn't have a clue what's going on. And if you don't like the answer one agency gave you, start your own agency and do whatever you want. Accountability, schmaccountability. It's irresponsible and I can't stand it. Especially when promoted my our government...aren't they the ones who should be getting folks to work (or at least talk) together?

Friday, July 18, 2008

Sometimes a list says it better....

This was my week, in numbers:

0... passports received back in the mail from the US government. I'm no good at waiting.

0... lost trailer keys found.

0... times I retired from professional football (and cried while announcing said retirement) and then tried to get back in the game, setting up major drama in the city that's supported,loved and worshiped me for all my adult life.

1... new blackberry received in the mail, replacing the old one I'd drowned over the weekend.

1... Episcopalian priest surprised on the pulpit when I popped up to worship with him and his new congregation 160 miles north of here. It was so good to see him again.

1... congressional staffer attending a community long term recovery meeting (actually, the only one I've ever seen at one of these meetings) who was informed, engaged and getting involved. Quite refreshing.

1... exit interview with my boss from Louisville. I really, really only have three weeks left on the Coast!

2... suitcases packed for the move to come in three weeks. In case you haven't heard, when I finish up here on August 6th, I am moving to Chicago to live with my friend Lauren. Eddie and I are looking forward to city life for a bit.

2... computers I nearly killed. One was spared, the other, still undecided. Need to get it back to the Geek Squad tomorrow.

2... grant applications I am trying to push through on behalf of homeowners before I bust out of here in three weeks.

3... restful, entertaining, rejuvenating days spent with Em up in Jackson. We ate breakfast in bed, hung by the pool, discussed everything from possible VP candidates to the new Pope's influence on American Catholicism to whether or not the Bachlorette picked the right guy on that ABC reality show (side note: we're both fine with anyone from Breckenridge!), snuck into the MS State Capitol after hours, watched the Black Rodeo Parade march through downtown, played a killer one-on-one game of Trivial Pursuit (I'd never mention who won and who lost, though, eh, eh) were mistaken for Southwest Airlines flight attendants, drank some good wine and ate some wonderful meals, and generally confused several security guards and hotel staffers.

3... amazing women who accompanied me to opening day of Mama Mia the movie! It was awesome. If you haven't seen this movie, grab your girlfriends and get to the cinema pronto. "here I go again..."

3... agencies with whom we had successful meetings to line up the transition of some cases to make sure folks aren't dropped when myself and another case manager leave next month.

4... Daily Show episodes enjoyed online in one fabulous sitting. He's so much better without the commercials.

6... vaccinations injected into my arms via four shots. I'm getting prepped for travel season. For those who don't know, I am going to India in August to visit my pal Kerry. I am now somewhat protected from Hep A, Hep B, Tetanus, Diphtheria, Typhoid, and Polio. There is no shot, however, to protect me from Kerry's corny jokes.

9... times I thought about putting together a resume but stopped before firing up the laptop, not because the laptop is broken, but because I still don't have an address or phone number to list on the resume. Um, need to get on that.

764... times I lost my temper and lashed out at some poor unsuspecting soul. Stressed about moving, E?

9768... (approximate) new freckles gained while out walking Eddie the wonder dog. Puppy walks are good for de-stressing the Erin!!

And back to
1... times I counted the the days I have left on the Coast- NINETEEN!!!

Monday, July 14, 2008


This weekend my Blackberry took a dip in some water and is now fried. This totally cripples me professionally and personally as it is my main contact to the world outside my trailer. Then, last night, my personal computer melted down on me as well. I may have lost every document, file, photo, and song I have. For good.

I'm bummin' right now....

Around 3:30 this afternoon, my work computer alerted me to a virus it had acquired. When I went to fix it, the anti-virus software bubble told me that the software had expired and I needed to renew it online. While attempting to renew the software, the Internet connection at the office went down.

I am not making this stuff up.

Can some one please look.....do I actually have a black cloud over my head?

Thursday, July 10, 2008


Peace it does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble or hard work. It means to be in the midst of those things and still be calm in your heart. -Unknown

Why did no one bring this quote to my attention BEFORE I started in the chaotic mess that is disaster recovery?

Sunday, July 06, 2008

The (not so) Great In-Trailer Retreat

I've been a little stressed lately with the return from a long vacation, catching up on emails/voicemails, preparing for my transition at work, apartment hunting in Chicago, preparing to pack out of Mississippi, attending weddings, planning fall travel trips, searching for my birth certificate, dealing with insurance issues, trying to schedule doctor/dentist appointments before losing my medical benefits, job hunting, saying goodbye to my friends, etc., etc. I don't say this to complain, because many of these stressors are very exciting, positive happenings, but they do, however, all require a lot of planning and preparation, which does stress me out. In order to chill a bit, I decided to take this weekend to myself and enjoy a retreat in my trailer.

It was perfect timing. It's been super hot here lately and the trailer has some high powered a/c. We're very low on volunteers, so all weekend working isn't necessary. It's a holiday weekend so most folks are busy with family/friends and won't notice my absence. Oh, and it was Wimbledon Championship weekend and Swimming and Track Olympic Trials time.

The problem with spending a retreat weekend in your trailer, I found, is that too much time in the trailer makes you lose sight of the outside world. When that happens, it just bumms me out.

Here's what I mean:
Example #1: Four cans of soda in one day is never necessary. I'm not sure my teeth will forgive me.

Example #2: I forget that I doesn't take 4 Gilmore Girls episodes to dry one load of laundry, so when I arrive back at the laundry room, someone else has already taken my semi-dry, wrinkly stuff out of the machine (and I'm sure I've pissed them off). Curses!

Example #3: Three 1/3 read books does not equal one completely read book no matter how you try to relate them. That means there is still a stack of semi-read books next to my bed, judging me, taunting me, and generally telling me I'm an idiot. Now my books are mocking me and, oh crap, I'm in the grocery store, buying more soda, talking to myself out loud about how I can get the books to leave me alone.

Example #4: I took a daily break of the trailer to take Eddie for a walk and totally forgot that it is 4th of July weekend. Big family picnics and street fireworks are not good places for hungry, friendly, but scared-of-loud-noises dogs.

Example #5: Three days of critically over-analyzing your life can be very bad for your mental health. If you are an over-analyzer who's also prone to emotional eating, this bodes poorly not only for the elastic on your mesh shorts (official trailer retreat wear) but also for the ice cream and cheeto stashes in the main dining tent.*

Example #6: Normal people don't watch Old School twice in a row. I'm just sayin'.

Example #7: I left Eddie in the trailer for about 25 seconds unattended. He jumped on my bed and found the secret stash of chocolate chips by my alarm clock. (Hey, you wake up to coffee, I say goodnight with chocolate...I don't judge you!) When I came back in the trailer, he jumped off the bed and left the slobbery bag of chocolate chips on the floor. While picking them up, I thought twice about picking out the not-slobbery ones before throwing the bag away. I was going to eat already-chewed-by-a-cute-but-filthy-dog chocolate chips!

Example #8: I'm pretty sure that none of my 'real world' friends received work emails on a Sunday afternoon with a subject line that reads, "fire ant bites" requiring immediate response. This thought gets me spinning on what I now consider to be the 'real world'.

While these examples are listed here in hopes of making you laugh, they were also moments of my weekend that made me a bit sad. Being down on the coast for nearly two years has left me out of touch with the rest of the world. As I prepare for re-entry, I'm a bit stressed about that transition. I have no shortage of books and friends and wild travel plans to help me through this transition, but that doesn't mean I won't stress about it. However, the next time I get all stressed and think a weekend alone will make me feel better, someone please remind me that there's a whole world of things to do outside my metal trailer walls...

*I will note that at my lowest point in the self-inflicted retreat saddness, I made a call to an older, wiser confidant (who for reasons about to be revealed shall remain nameless) who listened to me whine and then told me that she had, this very weekend, taken a quick break from wimbeldon/olympic trials watching and walked to her local grocery store to buy not one, not two, not three, but four Dove bars. No word on how many she actually polished off today, because I would never ask, but yes, it did make me feel better to know I wasn't alone!

Friday, July 04, 2008

Omaha Update!

While I sat on my trailer couch eating cheetos for the second night in a row, Dara Torres spanked a bunch of teens and twenty-somethings and WON the US Olympic Trials 100 Free.

I'm making the Go Dara t-shirts now. Let me know if you want one.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

The thing about Omaha is...

....my friend and future roommate, Lauren, is dating a guy from Omaha. That means, obviously, that over the past several months I have spent quite a bit of time making fun of Omaha. Did you know they have a zoo?

Then the American swimming world set up camp there for the US Olympic Trials this week and I'm thinking there must be something about that town!

So far (5 days in), US Swimmers have set 6 World Records, 12 American Records, 14 US Open Records, and 33 Trials Meet Records.

And with all of that, tomorrow night is when the big drama starts:
Dara Torres, a 41-year-old mother, is competing in the finals heat of the 100 freestyle. In a sport dominated by teenagers, this woman, this veteran of 4 olympic teams, will be standing on the blocks next to 6 swimmers who weren't even born when she competed in her first olympics (1984).

INSANE! And, yeah, pretty stinking awesome, too!

I think I need to get my now 30-year-old behind up to Nebraska get in on some of that Omaha magic! Oh and yes, I'm done making fun of Omaha, Plank...at least for the rest of the trials.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

While I was on vacation...

I arrived back in Gulfport today. I had been on the Grand Erin Vacation Tour of 2008. There were no groupies, but there were some pretty fine buses. Here's what happened over the past 12 days (photos to come)....

... I saw Stevie Wonder perform live at the Taste of Chicago.

... I totally fell in love with Park City, Utah.

... I taught countless little munchkins how to fly by their ears on our family vacation.

... my oldest, dearest, most amazingly talented friend married the sweetest man I've ever met, on the most beautiful day New England had to offer in the most fantastic setting possible. I cried. Lots. It was so perfect.

... I dipped my tootsies in the Provo River, the Atlantic Ocean, and Lake Michigan.

... Lauren and I found an apartment in Chicago! It's amazing- perfect size, heat included, located in the heart of Hyde Park, just 3 blocks from Lake Michigan and the express bus downtown stops out our front door. Now, if I can just get Eddie's weight down so we can be accepted as legal residents under their pet policy...

... my brother-in-law and I hiked a mountain, starting at 10,000+ feet, and were greeted at the top by not one, but two herds of mountain goats.

... I sailed on the Charles River and saw the lights of Fenway from the boat!

... while roasting marshmallows around a campfire, my nephew introduced me to the phrase, "Ponce Pon a time...." which is how I will now be starting ALL stories.

... I toured a Smart (Green) House, a Fairy Mansion and a U-Boat at the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago.

... I got to see my college roommate in the house she now owns- all on her own!

... I rode the world's fastest zip line (50 mph) while visiting the Utah Olympic Park!

... I was transported about on 7 planes, 10 trains, 7 buses, 1 cab, and 1 fifteen-passenger van with an overheating problem.

... I enjoyed ZERO slurpees!?!?! AH! What happened? In each of the three states I visited I'd planned to hit up a 7-11 (we don't have 'em here in Mississippi) for my favorite slushy treat, but some how it never happened. What was I thinking?

... I started planning two big, international trips for this fall! I can't wait to have some time off when I am done on the coast to let loose and travel again!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

In local news this week (also known as why I love mississippi...)

News got out in the past week or so about FEMA's new policy on ice distribution post-disaster. FEMA will now only distribute ice for medical or life saving purposes, and not to the general public (you know, folks who have no water/electricity and are trying to survive and clean-up in the 90-100 degree heat+ humidity of the deep, deep south). Folks down here have, rightly, gone a bit mad about this. MEMA (Mississippi Emergency Mgmt Agency) has come out saying that they will figure out a way to distribute ice for their residents since FEMA won't, which I applaud, but I really, prefer the way one local congressman has chosen to deal with this serious issue:

Taylor: FEMA officials a 'bunch of buttheads'

An official reaction to FEMA's no-ice policy came from U.S. Rep. Gene Taylor who referred to FEMA officials as a "bunch of buttheads."

Last week, officials were told that FEMA had decided to only supply ice for use in medical emergencies and life-saving reasons. It's left local officials scrambling to figure out ways to make it available for the general public.

During a meeting with Hancock County Board of Supervisors this morning Taylor said he intends to write to FEMA to register his objections to the new policy. He also urged Hancock County supervisors, as well as the city councils of Waveland and Bay St. Louis, to send similar letters of objection.

"I'm going to write a letter and tell them what a bunch of buttheads they are," said Taylor.

---You can read more about this by clicking here.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

And the cheese stands alone...

My friend Kerry left the coast this week. I am thrilled for him because he has a wonderful adventure planned for the summer that will take him all the way to an orphanage in India. And I'm not freaking out too much because when I move to Chicago this fall, he will also be living there and we'll get to see each other all the time. But I am terribly sad about this because Kerry has been a great friend and support for me down here. The two of us have been through the ringer and back again and after all of that, no one down here quite gets me/tolerates me/challenges me the way he does.

Also, it's tough because this makes me the last of the GCM PDA/MS Pres gang left. When I signed a one-year contract with PDA last summer, I knew this day would come. I just didn't know how hard it would be. Brenna and Linda made up a good large chunk of year one in Mississippi and when they left last summer, I melted a bit, but I had Lauren and Becca, Mical and Kerry to hold me together. Becca left in November, but Mical, Lauren and Kerry promised me I'd be fine. Lauren left, and Dan and Kerry shaved funny moustaches and built me a deck to keep my spirits up. Dan and Mical left and Kerry let me turn him into a wonderful girlfriend for gossip and chick flicks (um, I did also manage to take him to a NBA playoff game, so it wasn't all braiding each other's hair all the time). Kerry left this week.

In this business of ministry (?), I am learning that relationships are everything. These folks are the people who hold my hand when we have a bad day and dance and sing with joy when we have a good one, and who totally understand when both those days happen within a span of 15 minutes.

They are the freaks who pray with me at Chilis and dissect a sermon while waiting in line at IHOP. They are the ones who listen to me scream when I am frustrated with the system. They are the warm souls who give me that knowing glance when one of us has put in a 15 hour day just to have some pastor rip you out because we ran out of eggs. They are the wise ones who know

not to push me when I say I just can't be around new people today. They are the sensitive ones who know how to push me when I'm putting up one of those lame excuses. They know me in and out and over again. They are as much my family as if my mom had birthed each one of them (although I think she's glad she didn't).

And they are moving on.

We all are. I am moving in two months. But right now, I am still here and they are not. New people have come to take over their jobs. New people with new skills, new talents, new gifts. Wonderful, sweet, hard-working, smart, funny, new people.
But I don't want to get to know the new people. I want my family back. I want them back now. And I don't want things to change anymore.

Tomorrow we're taking a PDA staff trip to Ship Island for some quality beach bonding time. It's going to be super fun and I will have lots of time to get to know all of our new summer staff. I'm sure I'll love it. But for tonight, I just want to whine.
I miss my peeps.....

Sunday, June 01, 2008

While you wait...check out these cuties!

Okay, I am feeling better and working on a post to update y'all on my trip home, current PDA happenings and my future (gulp) plans. While that's stewing, I was flipping through some photos.

My camera broke a couple of weeks ago, so I have been sharing and borrowing from others. Last weekend, I used my sister Rainey's camera. She's one of those people who takes tons of photos and leaves them all on the memory card forever, which worked out great for me because when I uploaded the photos I took over the weekend, I also got about 6 months worth of pictures of my neice Quinlan and nephews William and Henry. Check out how cute they are:

.... and here is one pic from my trip. Quinlan did my hair and was very proud of herself!

Catching up...

Okay....where to start?

I had an amazing weekend at home. Flew in to Baltimore and had some quality sister time with Rainey. Saturday was spent in DC with six of my nieces & nephews, two sisters, one brother-in-law and one mom. We sat on the Mall and went to a free kids concert put on my XM radio (remember when everyone listened to satellite radio for like a year and it was going to change the world- ha!) featuring, wait for it, Lisa Loeb and Meredith Brooks. Okay, what? Kids concert with those chicks? Lisa Loeb was the funky 90s indie-girl all my alternative-dork friends loved who then totally sold out and put out a pop album and VH1 reality show a couple of years ago. Kids album is a new layer of her sell-out-ness, and really she's such a bore on stage that it doesn't matter what style music she's playing, it just wasn't entertaining to watch. So the other one, though, Meredith Brooks, she had one pretty big hit, also in the 90s, called, "I'm a _itch." Except she didn't edit the title, or the song. But she was a great kid entertainer, so our group of munchkins was pretty happy. The whole fam bummed around the monuments and I got to sit with my 7 year old niece and together we read the two great Lincoln speeches inside Abe's big white house, which was one of the cooler things I've ever gotten to do with her.

That night, I met up with a handful of my best friends from college for some good food, a lively political debate, and a few too many margaritas. Being in the city really made me excited for my next adventure and some serious city time. (Have I mentioned the plan to move to the city at the end of the summer?) Oh, and I just love DC so much. The metro, the activity, the diversity, the monuments, all of it. Love it.

The next morning, I went back up to Bawlmer for church. It was so great to be back at DMPC for worship. I just always feel so comfortable there, even when my nephew is puking all over the pews and I'm cleaning that with tissues. I guess that's the thing about church family- even at your grossest, you are comfortable there. AND, my pal/pastor Liz lent me a dress to wear to my friend's wedding that night!

After church I headed downtown to check into the hotel and rejoin my college pals in prepping for the wedding. We did a little wandering around the Inner Harbor and ate outside at the Hard Rock on the water. I have no idea how I manage to go months/years at a time without seeing these folks, because ugh, when I am with them I realize how much I need to be with them more.

The wedding of my friends Carrie and Jay was just beautiful, casual and lovely. Fun times were had by all, especially by those who participated in the throwing of the artichokes. Wow.

On Memorial Day I went to an Orioles/Yankees game and enjoyed some perfect baseball weather. My sister Rainey got sick that night and I thought it was odd. Little did I know that the sick would shortly be coming my way....

I flew home on Tuesday night to New Orleans. I stayed at our Olive Tree Village and the next day spent some time with my friend Kerry and his dad, who was in town visiting. That night, I caught the Stafford Uck. It was the sickest I've ever been and I would not wish that one ANYONE! Especially if that anyone is staying in a motor home with no water or A/C in the deep, deep south in the summer. Sick like that is no fun in a porta-potty. And with that, I think I've said enough.

I finally managed to make it back to Gulfport on Friday, which was just in time for the PDA weekend outing to the roller rink. A crew of us slapped on some skates and did our best hokey pokey!

I realized that I only have about two months left down here.....my how it flies.....

Friday, May 30, 2008


recovering from the worst sick ever.....much to share about my weekend home, Carrie and Jay's wedding, cute new shoes, LOST, more scary christian books, fun summer travel plans, and more.....but my tummy's still rumbling...

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Poplarville, my Poplarville...

This Sunday, I decided to surprise my friend Sally-Lodge by showing up at her church for worship totally unannounced. Sally-Lodge is the pastor of a small church in Poplarville, MS. It's about an hour north-west of Gulfport, which basically puts the town in the beginning of the middle of nowhere Mississippi.

It was a total adventure for little miss suburbs over here.

First, I googled the church name. Of course they have no website. Then I went to the PC(USA) website to do a search on the church. It came up when I searched by town name and gave me an address. I google-mapped that address and set off on the road. I figured that a southern, country church service couldn't start before 10 am, so I thought I'd just drive out of town and bring some books and then I'd be ready to sit and wait a while.

It was a beautiful drive. Cow farm after cow farm. The weather in south Mississippi has been incredible this May- still with no heat, no bugs, no humidity. Most days this month, I've been concerned that the apocalypse is upon us, because weather like this just doesn't happen here in May. But on this Sunday, I loved it. When old people talk about going for a Sunday drive, I think this is the weather they have in mind. That was the drive they have in mind.

So, I wasn't paying much attention to the specifics of the directions and therefore wasn't worried when I rolled up on to a golf course. Then, I looked and discovered that I'd hit the last turn on the directions. The address for the church on the PC(USA) website was some one's home on a golf course. I wasn't near anything resembling a town or a church or Sally-Lodge. I was so bummed.

I got back on the road and stumbled upon a mom and pop gas station. They'd never heard of the particular church that I was seeking, but could list off a number of places where a nice girl like me could worship this fine Sunday.

Completely disappointed that my fun surprise was spoiled, I went on my way. I decided to take a different route home so that I would at least enjoy a new drive. Then I realized that I was going to drive right by downtown Poplarville. The church was supposed to be in Poplarville. I could try one more time. It was only 10:30 and there was still a chance that the service didn't start until 11.

I drove into town thinking, how many churches can there be in a tiny, start of the middle of nowhere Mississippi town?


It's the deep south. There are nine million churches for every 127 people. I saw a big one, and old one, a brick one, a stick one, a blue one, a red one, a green one, a cream one. Dr. Seuss would've loved this town. But no Presbyterian one. So, I gave up all over again and started winding my way out of the "downtown" area when I saw one of those little "Presbyterian Church this way" signs. I turned and drove one block and found the phantom Sally-Lodge church!!!!

I was so thrilled! Not only at my master bird-dogging skills or because the service DID start at 11, so I still had 15 minutes to spare, but because I was finally (FINALLY) after almost two years, going to be at Sally-Lodge's church.

It was awesome. There's nothing like seeing someone you love and respect do one of the things they do best. Watching her interact with her congregation was such a joy/learning experience. And the small group was so welcoming to me- this stranger from a foreign land.

AND! They had free food. One of my favorite things in the whole world is stumbling upon free food. There was a scheduled church picnic after the service. Church picnics have to be one of my favorite things about living in the deep south. Picnics, hot sauce, and sweet tea. And adventures in Poplarville. I'll add that to the list, now.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Take Two

I started trying to write a post about my week, but it just got long and lame and then way off subject. I decided to try again using just a list. So, in my favorite format, I present to you, my week:

A week of UPs!

-Cheered, danced, and celebrated with Kerry and a bunch of wild New Orleanians at the Hornets/Spurs playoff game 5. (Trombone-freakin'-Shorty was there! It was awesome!)

-Due to unexpected incident(s), had the pleasure of spending extra time at Olive Tree Village, which meant more fun with Kerry and the kittens.

-Enjoyed dinner with volunteers and village staff in Houma, LA.

-Visited all four of our active Volunteer Villages within 24 hours!

-Breakfast for Lunch with Virginia.

-Shared dinner with friends at a casino buffet. My FIRST since arriving on the coast! Why have I not done this before??? 3 hours of good conversation and tasty snow crab legs.

(Wonder why all my UPs involve food?)

A week of DOWNs!

-Learned that the Red Cross will be out of money for Katrina victims as of June 1. So many people still need help rebuilding!

-Extra time at Olive Tree Village wasn't all fun. Tough work and tough conversations. Extra bug bites from the motor home's bad screens/no AC problem.

-Communication struggles GALORE had me pulling out my hair.

-Realized that because I am always going to be a peace-maker (never a peace-keeper) I that means that I will often come across as a warring witch. Awesome.

-Endured an unsuccessful attempt at shopping for a dress to wear to my friend's wedding next weekend.

Monday, May 12, 2008


Okay, when I first saw this advertised on TV last week I thought it was completely ridiculous and wanted to post a link on my blog so all three people who still read this thing could laugh at the sad, sad state of TV reporting in New Orleans.

Wheel of Justice (click here)
You + Wheel + Dirtbags = Justice

Then, I watched some of the updates. This thing is actually assisting in catching criminals and making the post-Katrina streets of New Orleans safer every day.


So, BRAVO to you, WGNO!
And tsk, tsk to you, Counihan (even though you're still giggling a little)

Sunday, May 11, 2008


I've been incredibly blessed with smart, strong, talented, loving, and fun female role models my whole life- my sisters, friends, aunts, co-workers, teachers, roommates and neighbors. In a way, all of these women have mothered me and so I find today a great day to honor all of those incredible mother-influences in our lives. Sometimes we're good daughters and we say and do sweet things to honor our moms. A lot of the time, we're rotten whiners that just don't want to hear the lessons they have to share with us. And more than for any other reason (of which there are many, many), I admire my mom, the real one, the one who actually gave me life, so much for loving and supporting me when I am the brat as much as she does when I am a sweetheart. I suppose only a mother knows how to do that. But she does it. All the time. So you know, so its cool that she is brilliant and brave and faithful and adventurous and independent and warm and thoughtful and clever and strong and a good dancer and a good cookie-picker-out and whatever, but I am completely and always amazed at her capacity to love- to actively, aggressively and wonderfully love and love and love. I am so thankful to be a blessed recipient of all that love, all the time.
Cheers to you, ma!

Friday, May 02, 2008


This spring has been drenched in transitions down in PDAland. We've got staff and long-term volunteers turning over like leaves. This is the time of year when some folks come down to work with us for just two months or so. After all this time on the coast, and all this time working in this crazy industry, I still have a hard time with change and transitions. I have a hard time convincing myself to invest in someone who is only going to be here for a couple of weeks. I know that they need support and friendship and information and kindness, but please-it's only 8 weeks. Can't I just hand them a manual and a glass of sweet tea and get back to my work? Well, yes, Erin you can, if you want to be a brat about it.

My friend Brenna came to visit this past weekend. I had the great fortune of attending a meeting in Princeton about three weeks ago, so we had already done the whole catch up with what you're doing and what your summer plans might be thing. So this weekend, we got to transition back into just being friends again. Not visiting old friends. But friends who know each other and can sit and talk about anything or nothing. I hadn't realized how much I'd missed that. It was so great. I coulda drank it up. Like sweet tea, actually.

Some of you know, but many of you don't, that I have my own transition coming up pretty soon. I've decided on an end date for my service on the coast. I WILL BE LEAVING at the beginning of August. I have no idea what I will do next or where I will go, but I know that I've given all I have to this place and now I am a bit spent. It's going to be torture to leave, but I want to go before I make staying into torture as well. I'm so glad that I've been able to make this decision (with much careful thought, prayer, and conversation) early so that I have time to process this next transition before I bolt outta here.

Or so she says....

Sunday, April 20, 2008


Eddie and I have been enjoying some amazing weather this weekend!
We've learned that laying around in the sun and the breeze is a great way to procrastinate.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

I am so lucky...

....to have such amazing people in my life.

Tonight was incredible. I'm in Princeton, NJ for a meeting of the PDA National Response Team. I've been fortunate enough to meet some incredibly involved Presbyterians who have a passion for helping people in need. I have so much to learn from them.

We had a break for dinner, tonight, though, so I joined my pal Brenna for a night out. She's in seminary here and it has been quite convenient that my conference put me in her back yard. We spent the afternoon touring New Hope, PA- shopping, laughing, drinking and eating. At dinner we discussed everything from the human understanding of a tangible/physical heaven to issues surrounding christian sexuality while also wandering around in conversation to make sure we had time to spend gossiping about the time lines of our friends' love lives.

Then I ended up bumping into a Gulf Coast mission trip/Facebook friend in the Princeton Seminary housing facility and we spent the wee hours of the night pouring wine over plastic cups of ice while exploring ideas for local church missions, training opportunities for political community involvement, and the educational and sociological benefits of photography and art.

I'm not sure what forces of heaven and life put me in this place at this time, but gee, it seems to fit.

Thursday, April 10, 2008


I am very aware that there is a designated starting date for spring marked on all of our calendars on March 21st. However, to me that day is my friend Emily's birthday, not some grand change of season. Spring in my life has always been marked by signals you don't find on the calendar.

Back home in the MD, I knew it was Spring when the cherry blossoms arrived all over town and when everyone got to grumbling about how bad the Orioles were going to be- again.

In college I knew it was Spring when everyone and their mom took to studying outside on the Bashford lawn. I mean, "studying".

In Colorado I knew it was Spring when the slopes were full of glove-shells-only skiers. No liners, no coats, no face masks, no helmets.

Last year, I knew it was Spring in Mississippi when all the dudes in town started driving their pick-up trucks (seemingly suddenly, but all on the same day) SHIRTLESS!

This year, I discovered that Spring had arrived when I was stirred by Eddie the dog chasing the first cockroach of the season in my trailer.

It's always something. Hurray for SPRING!

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Make way for the REBIRTH!

Folks who know Jazz/Brass (or who have spent any time at any festival in the greater new orleans area) know that the headline of this post comes from one of the great Rebirth Brass Band songs (featuring my fav: Kermit Ruffins). That song gets everyone I know up and shaking every time. Tonight, my heart was up and shaking, but there was no brass band to be found. My heart was shaking with joy for the rebirth of St. Peter's by the Sea.

After Katrina, St. Peter's By The Sea Episcopal Church looked like this:

Now, it looks like this:

I've worshiped with the congregation of St. Peter's for more than a year and a half. They are a strong and inspirational bunch of survivors. After the storm took most of their church building and many of their homes, they came back to rebuild. Tonight, I had the great pleasure of joining them to celebrate the consecration of their newly rebuilt church. The Bishop lead the nearly 2 hour service and every pew in the house, plus folding chairs, was full! I can't believe how fortunate I was to witness such joy, such relief. The rebirth!

As they say at St. Pete's:
God is great. ALL THE TIME.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

No people, no cars, and I mean it.

How does it fly by? The weeks continue passing and I hardly seem able to keep up. It amazes me how busy we stay down here (which is a great thing!) and how after my 19 months on the coast, my workload doesn't diminish at all. Every week brings a scramble to find jobs, materials, funds, volunteers, permits, etc. EVERY WEEK! Why we can't seem to find a system to keep from scrambling, I will never understand. I love systems and trust me, if there were one that would make sense of this work I'd be all over it. But no one has been able to find said successful system yet, so the scramble continues.

All that is to say that the by the time the weekend arrives I am desperate for some down time. Down time for me used to be skiing, camping, hiking and general merriment with a big ole gang of friends. Now, clearly there's no skiing or hiking here, and since I basically camp every night, that's been out too. But the shocker is that hanging with friends no longer constitutes down time for me. I'm totally fried on people lately. The blackberry on my hip and it's constant buzzing seems to have some effect on my desire to socialize. Daily, I go from meeting to meeting where I listen to a near constant barrage of information and updates coming from a handful of mono-tone voices. Then via phone, email, or personal encounter that intrudes into my Erin face space, I listen to questions and comments from long term volunteers. Sprinkled throughout the day, at the office, at the grocery store or driving down the highway, I listen to homeowners sharing their problems and frustrations. Then, while eating dinner, walking the dog, or stepping in or out of the porta-potty, I listen to complaints from our one-week volunteers.

I am committed to my job and our mission down here, but I come Saturday afternoon, my ears are spent. So now, my weekend downtime usually involves me and some serious time with my trailer couch and some season of Gilmore Girls on DVD. Is this what's best for my mind, my body or my social life- um, well, no. For my sanity- yes. It seems to be working now.

If only I can come up with some ideas for how not to get so sick of driving....

Monday, March 31, 2008

Now that it's over....

Top 10 Reasons Why I Love March in Mississippi:

10. March Madness is fun everywhere.
9. College Students on Spring Break litter communities and volunteer camps across the coast, meaning lots of work getting done!
8. No Bugs.
7. Only one more month until JazzFest.
6. This year- Daylight Savings means sunshine after work.
5. This year- EASTER!
4. Umbrellas, families, and fun re-populate the beaches.
3. No Bugs.
2. Sunny 70 degree days aplenty.
1. No Bugs!

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Math = Fan-freaking-tastic!

The equation of my today went something like this:

Early morning volunteer chat


Late for early morning meeting


Organized Manual Project completed


Beautiful Mississippi March sunny day


No bugs


Long ride to Houma with friends


One difficult phone conversation


Yummy lunch cooked by Kevin


Staff meeting


Tears over friends (long-term volunteers) who are leaving the Coast this weekend


Riding Hwy 90 all the way back to NoLa




Fun surprise time with Kerry

(Ferry ride+Stumbling upon a movie set in New Orleans+Touring fun, funky neighborhood+Yummy dinner in the French Quarter)


Quick phone chat with Lauren


Fetch time with Eddie while catching some late-night March Madness on the tube


Happy Erin

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Happy Easter Y'all!

Celestial spirit that doth roll
The heart's sepulchral stone away,
Be this our resurrection day,
The singing Easter of the soul -
O gentle Master of the Wise,
Teach us to say: "I will arise."

~Richard Le Gallienne

Scenes from Easter morning at New Life Community Church/Orange Grove Volunteer Village:

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Holy Saturday

With volunteer numbers low for Easter weekend, a handful of us PDAers took the day off and went to enjoy the sunshine in New Orleans today. We started off with a fantastic breakfast at The Camilla Grill. Then we hit up Audubon Zoo, where I pet an elephant, fed a giraffe and marveled at a swamp monster. The day ended with a ride on the street car down St. Charles Ave.

I'll let you decide, from the photos below, which one is the real swamp monster.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Good Friday

Last night, I went to New Life Community Church for Maundy Thursday worship. Scott had worked up a great service (although without a bulletin, which was really hard for this structured, fuddy-duddy Presbie to handle) and it was a special night. Readings and stories were shared, candles were lit and extinguished, there was a hand washing bit (because we use our hands the way the disciples used their feet), and even a couple of songs before communion. Scott concluded the emotional service by reading from SM Lockbridge's famous sermon, "It's Friday, but Sunday's Coming!"

Usually, I am not cool with this kind of talk- I tend to find it pretty cheesy. It hit me last night, though and I found myself crying throughout the whole service. If you're not familiar with the sermon, here's a bit to read:

It's Friday. Jesus is arrested in the garden where He was praying. But Sunday's coming.
It's Friday. The disciples are hiding and Peter's denying that he knows the Lord. But Sunday's coming.
It's Friday. Jesus is standing before the high priest of Israel, silent as a lamb before the slaughter. But Sunday's coming.
It's Friday. Jesus is beaten, mocked, and spit upon. But Sunday's coming.
It's Friday. Those Roman soldiers are flogging our Lord with a leather scourge that has bits of bones and glass and metal, tearing at his flesh. But Sunday's coming.
It's Friday. The Son of man stands firm as they press the crown of thorns down into his brow. But Sunday's coming.
It's Friday. See Him walking to Calvary, the blood dripping from His body. See the cross crashing down on His back as He stumbles beneath the load. It's Friday; but Sunday's a coming.
It's Friday. See those Roman soldiers driving the nails into the feet and hands of my Lord. Hear my Jesus cry, "Father, forgive them." It's Friday; but Sunday's coming.
It's Friday. Jesus is hanging on the cross, bloody and dying. But Sunday's coming.
It's Friday. The sky grows dark, the earth begins to tremble, and He who knew no sin became sin for us. Holy God who will not abide with sin pours out His wrath on that perfect sacrificial lamb who cries out, "My God, My God. Why hast thou forsaken me?" What a horrible cry. But Sunday's coming.
It's Friday. And at the moment of Jesus' death, the veil of the Temple that separates sinful man from Holy God was torn from the top to the bottom because Sunday's coming.
It's Friday. Jesus is hanging on the cross, heaven is weeping and hell is partying. But that's because it's Friday, and they don't know it, but Sunday's a coming.
And on that horrible day 2000 years ago, Jesus the Christ, the Lord of glory, the only begotten Son of God, the only perfect man died on the cross of Calvary. Satan thought that he had won the victory. Surely he had destroyed the Son of God. Finally he had disproved the prophecy God had uttered in the Garden and the one who was to crush his head had been destroyed. But that was Friday.
Now it's Sunday. And just about dawn on that first day of the week, there was a great earthquake. But that wasn't the only thing that was shaking because now it's Sunday. And the angel of the Lord is coming down out of heaven and rolling the stone away from the door of the tomb. Yes, it's Sunday, and the angel of the Lord is sitting on that stone and the guards posted at the tomb to keep the body from disappearing were shaking in their boots because it's Sunday, and the lamb that was silent before the slaughter is now the resurrected lion from the tribe of Judah, for He is not here, the angel says. He is risen indeed.
It's Sunday, and the crucified and resurrected Christ has defeated death, hell, sin and the grave. It's Sunday. And now everything has changed. It's the age of grace, God's grace poured out on all who would look to that crucified lamb of Calvary. Grace freely given to all who would believe that Jesus Christ died on the cross of Calvary was buried and rose again. All because it's Sunday.
It's Friday! But Sunday's a Coming

So here's what had me crying- I feel overwhelmed by all the Friday in the world most days. Down here on the Coast especially- with the challenges of rebuilding, working with hurting people in a chronic state of need, sifting through church politics and grant funding, waiting and depending on volunteer labor, and the list goes on and on. Then I look up from my Gulf Coast Recovery bubble and see Friday everywhere else as well- with this darn war, with the election, within my own relationships, with my crappy dog-training skills, with that ruling-pharmaceutical-and-insurance-company-style heath care our nation promotes, with our failing public school systems, with the violence we see the world over, with all that I see with my eyes and all that I find within my own heart. I don't feel the weekend coming. I know it isn't fair to compare my inability to property train my dog with the issue of world peace or the crucifixion of Christ. But we're talking failure, brokenness, and hurt aren't we? Big and small, it's still failure, brokenness and hurt.

I don't mean to say that it's all Friday and sorrow and sadness all the time. I do occasionally catch glimpses of Sunday- when a homeowner called a couple of weeks ago to tell me that she spent the first night in her newly rebuilt home, when four sisters from four states gathered to laugh and love on one another for a weekend, when volunteers from all over the nation come to help neighbors they've never met, when I read the wedding announcement that arrived in the mail for a dear friend and her long time partner, when I say sit and Eddie's little bum hits the ground, and when I hear word of a new baby on the way, and on and on. But we never seem to relish in those lovely Sunday moments quite the way we wallow in the Friday times. And I've been doing a lot of wallowing lately. I suppose we've got to hurt through the Fridays in order to appreciate the Sundays. But, maybe I need to re-read my own Sunday list, and start focusing on those Sunday bits- no matter how few and far between they come.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Ah, vacation.

I'm writing tonight from a King-sized hotel bed in Nashville, while watching NCAA Tourney bracket coverage on giant flat-screen high-def TV. It's pretty great.

I spent the weekend in Nashville with my sisters relishing in a break from my current reality. We hadn't spent time together as just the girls in years- no kids, no husbands, no parents, no jobs, no obligations, no commitments, no worries. We ate too much, drank too much, laughed too much, slept too little, and certainly watched too much basketball. It was awesome.

Last night, after spending all day at a bar watching the ACC tourney (I was after-all with 2 Clemson grads and 1 Carolina grad) we hit up the Grand Ole Opry. We'd bought tickets because Carrie Underwood and Little Big Town were playing, but were treated with surprise performances by Vince Gill and Randy Travis!!! Not only that, but Randy Travis joined Carrie Underwood on stage and invited her to join the Opry. Quite the exciting night!

Back when I booked my plane ticket, I made the genius decision to stay in Nashville an extra night. The other girls flew home this afternoon, but I don't take off until early tomorrow morning. That means one night alone in a nice airport hotel, with a big ole shower with an unlimited supply of hot water, free HBO, free WiFi, table full of snacks, reliable indoor climate control, fancy sheets, and no responsibility for another 12 hours.


Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Hitting the Hive

Kerry and I went to the New Orleans Hornets game tonight. It was so nice to get out of the Village, out of Gulfport, and out of the whole Disaster Recovery business for a few hours. We had a blast at the game and, shocker, I even took a few photos. Click here to see the pics!

Monday, March 10, 2008

March Madness!

Ha, ha, ha, ha........ READ THIS!
Talk about creative advertising...

Sunday, March 09, 2008


So my awesome friends and co-workers here in Mississippi took me out for Birthday Bowling last night. Anyone who's ever bowled with me knows that I'm psychotically competitive with this silly sport. I can't control myself around those pins. After a few particularly bad games in high school I was banned from the lanes for 2 years. Lately, I do okay most of the time, and I'm even kinda good after two beers (as I am with most sports where drinking beer is involved), but there's one major problem with me and bowling.... the harder I try, the more I focus, the more I want it, the more I push....the worse I am.

I'm starting to notice that's not just a bowling thing....

Friday, March 07, 2008

I've got issues.

Of course it didn't make the national news, but Hillary was in Mississippi yesterday and (YES!) finally addressed the Gulf Coast Rebuilding issues.....


I know she didn't say much, or really provide any kind of a plan of what she'd do to help, but at least she recognized rebuilding the Gulf Coast as an issue.


On Obama's website there's a page for "Issues", where he lists 20 issues on which he's taken a stand and plans to take action. Then there's the 21st "issue" which is "Other Issues", buried down there is a brief statement on Katrina:

As president, Barack Obama will keep the broken promises made by President Bush to rebuild New Orleans and the Gulf Coast. And he will take steps to ensure that the federal government will never again allow such catastrophic failures in emergency planning and response to occur.

Barack Obama swiftly responded to Hurricane Katrina. Citing the Bush administration’s “unconscionable ineptitude” in responding to Hurricane Katrina, Obama introduced legislation requiring disaster planners to take into account the specific needs of low-income hurricane victims. Obama visited thousands of Hurricane survivors in the Houston Convention Center and later took three more trips to the region. He worked with members of the Congressional Black Caucus to introduce legislation to address the immediate income, employment, business and housing needs of Gulf Coast communities.

As president, Barack Obama will partner with the people of the Gulf Coast to rebuild now, stronger than ever.

Then you can click on a link to read his whole plan. I read it. It's not so much a plan as a bulleted list of warm fuzzy promises. And no where does it mention Mississippi. The whole "plan" is about New Orleans. Awesome.

So then I went to Hillary's website. She has 14 issues listed on her "ISSUES" page. Nope, Katrina recovery isn't one of them. And she doesn't have an "other issues" tab at all. So, nowhere on her web page does she mention Gulf Coast recovery at all. Hum.

In an effort to be fair, I went to John McCain's website as well. He only has 12 issues. No Katrina talk anywhere.

I know it isn't a war, or a mortgage crisis, but the Gulf Coast is still a mess. Can we at least talk about that????

Thursday, March 06, 2008


Today, on the 30th anniversary of that wonderful day when my mother introduced me to this beautiful world of beaches and sunsets and mountains and lakes and Cheetos and football and puppies and all foods fried, I've decided that turning 30 isn't the great tragedy I've been anticipating for the past 6 months. To celebrate that realization, I give you this, a list of thirty reasons why it doesn't suck to be in your thirties......

1. I've finally achieved maturity and self-confidence and am now fully prepared to rule the world.
2. I can afford to buy shoes that come from someplace other than the clearance rack at Payless.
3. I have friends who've known me for more than 20 years!
4. Reunions are fun!
5. My niece still thinks I am cool.
6. My dog thinks I am cool.
7. I know that I can come back from ANYTHING.
8. I don't get carded anymore! Gets me to the booze faster.
9. I no longer feel obligated to attend "young adult" church events.
10. I'll never be as old as my big sisters.
11. Less worrying about what everyone else thinks, wants, likes, says....
12. Another decade closer to retirement
13. I know what I want, where I am going and what I am doing....oh wait, no I don't. I have no idea what I am doing in five months. But at least now, I know that most of us never really figure that out- ya just keep going.
14. Thirty rhymes with dirty.
15. I made it through my twenties without getting arrested
16. I can tell wild stories about the good ole days of living in my first crappy apartment with confidence because I now live someplace much nicer/safer/cleaner.
17. I hear that forty is the new thirty, so by that logic, I just re-turned twenty!
18. I don't have to pre-party before going out anymore. This light-weight just needs one glass of wine at dinner...
19. ....which means I'm a cheap date!
20. I'm in a new age bracket for all election polling. My vote now messes up the conservative commentators a bit more than it used to!
21. My credit history is looking good.
22. Anti-aging face lotion always has sunscreen packed in there, so I never get sunburned anymore.
23. The more distance between me and high school, the cooler I was!
24. Complaining about back pain doesn't sound so ridiculous.
25. There's a whole different section of self-help books for women in their 30s!
26. I've survived 10 years without pantyhose- I think I'm in the clear for another 10, at least!
27. It happened. You don't have a choice. Deal with it.
28. The tastes of both SPAM and ramen noodles will remain forever locked in my 20s.
29. More time with friends and family
30. Maybe now people will STOP calling me Kiddo!

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

A little light

Mom is here!

My mom and her church are on the Coast for a work week at the PDA Village in Pearlington, MS. It's been so great to have a taste of home around here, but at the same time, I am so tired. I can't seem to keep up. Mom came over last night and spent the night with me in the trailer but I was too tired to come up with something fun, wild and creative to do, so we just watched election returns and then went to bed early. Eddie didn't seem to mind that we stayed home, though. Driving back and forth to Pearlington every day (sometimes twice a day) is wearing on me a bit....but each time I am with the GPC crew, there's new energy and new hope in the work we're doing. Maybe I need to just stop my whining and enjoy these folks that I love so much. Oh, I just feel so blessed to have them here.

AND-- I am just 9 days away from my big sisters weekend in Nashville!

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Just another day with PDA ...

Click here to see more AWESOME photos from the weekend the fellas moved the Gautier Village office to the Orange Grove Village (about 30 miles west).

Sunday, February 24, 2008

A little perspective.

Tonight as Judi, Virginia and I were watching the Oscars, actually, it was as we were watching the red carpet coverage of the Oscar arrivals, we were doing what everyone does---ripping to shreds all the women who wore too-tight satin dresses, or poorly suited colors, or horrible-curtain-looking concoctions.

Then, Virginia smartly noticed that we were three poorly-dressed-in-PDA-blue-t-shirts-women, sitting in a travel trailer in Mississippi, eating Klondike bars, evaluating, critiquing and judging these movie stars and their terribly moronic fashion choices.

And I can't remember the last time I washed my hair....

Monday, February 18, 2008

Just call me Bagel Live Oak...

Okay, I needed a good laugh today and this one got me! Feel free to leave a comment with your own new name!

1. YOUR ROCK STAR NAME (first pet, current car): Pepper Cavalier
2. YOUR GANGSTA NAME (fave ice cream flavor, favorite type of shoe): Cookies n' Cream Sneaker
3. YOUR NATIVE AMERICAN NAME (favorite color, favorite animal): Green Dog
4. YOUR SOAP OPERA NAME (middle name, city where you were born): Eileen DeeCee
5. YOUR STAR WARS NAME (the first three letters of your last name, first two of your first name): Couer
6. SUPERHERO NAME (2nd favorite color, favorite drink): Orange Sweet Tea
7. NASCAR NAME (the first names of your grandfathers): Joe Maxton
8. STRIPPER NAME ( the name of your favorite perfume/cologne/scent, favorite candy): Soap Fudge (that one is NOT okay)
9. TV WEATHER ANCHOR NAME (your fifth grade teacher’s last name, a major city that starts with the same letter): I really can't remember my fifth grade teacher's name. Not one bit. Yikes.
10. SPY NAME (your favorite season/holiday, flower): Autumn Black-eyed Susan
11. CARTOON NAME (favorite fruit, article of clothing you’re wearing right now): Apple Sweatshirt
12. HIPPIE NAME (What you ate for breakfast, your favorite tree): Bagel Live Oak

Thank you.

Read this.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

One of my favorite days of the year!

I love the night before Valentine's Day. I love it!

Tonight I was really tired, but my fridge was empty. Around 7:30pm I gave in and went to the grocery store to replace the moldy grapes I'd found in my fridge this morning (why do I always let fruit go bad??). I'd forgotten what day it was.

Then I parked my car.

Men everywhere, buying the last few cards, half-dead flowers, horribly ugly balloons (and really, what woman over the age of 9 wants balloons?), and already discounted boxes of candy. It was awesome.

I love the last-minute-oh-crap-I-totally-forgot-it-was-Valentine's-Day-and-now-what-the-heck-can-I-get-my-wife/girlfriend/partner-for-cheap-but-so-she-doesn't-think-I-forgot trip to the grocery store. There were no less than 5 nervous men in the greeting card isle at any one time while I was in the store.

Just when I had written all these fools off and considered getting some popcorn and a camp chair to sit in front of the store to enjoy the quality people-watching, I was approached by a man in a suit in the dairy section. He was holding his son's hand asked me if I could explain the difference between butter and margarine. We chatted for a bit and he explained that he and his son were trying to bake his wife some cookies from scratch for Valentine's Day but that he had no idea what he was doing. I gave him a few tips and walked away chuckling and smiling.

Seriously, my favorite day of the year....and I almost missed it.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Freakin' state of Maryland and their broke down voting records system.

They lost my voter registration.

Freakin' Maryland!

A few weeks ago I sent away for my absentee ballot. It never showed. I called today, they have no record of me ever voting or registering to vote in Maryland. Seriously?? I can't tell you how many elections I've voted in over the years in the Old Line State. Yet, I don't exist in their system. Since 1996, minus a three year break when I voted in Colorado, I've been punching the democratic ballot in every primary and general election. But not this year! And it's too late to register to vote in the Mississippi primary. The very helpful election worker answering the phone at the Frederick County Elections Office informed me that my only option would be to go in and vote provisionally at the elementary school....in Frederick, MD. Right.

I was livid.

I called my mom- she'd be outraged and stage a protest for sure. Not home.
I called my sister Rainey. She was outraged. She told me that my good friend Liz was also denied by the voting Nazis in the city of Baltimore. Liz changed her registration from Independent to Democrat in September, but they didn't process it until December, which is too late, so now she can't vote in the party primary. I was mad for Liz, too, now.
Then Rainey shared with me Liz's projected vote and I realized that if we'd both had the opportunity to participate in our nation's great democratic process, Liz's vote would have canceled out my vote.

I guess it'll be okay then.

But I'm still fuming mad. In my trailer in Mississippi...looking for something to do to stick it to the man!