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....

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).