Get fired up!

Not for the big game, but for the big United Methodist Men (UMM) and Women of Wonder (WOW) Tailgate Party Saturday, Sept. 8.

Throw on your favorite team sportwear, toss in the lawn chairs, and head to the back lot at Soapstone at 6 p.m. for some grilling, games and good times. The guys are cooking hot dogs and burgers and will toss in the chips, lemonade and iced tea, too. Everyone is asked to bring a favorite side dish or dessert to share.

In true tailgate fashion, anyone and everyone is welcome so invite a friend or a new couple from the neighborhood. Just be sure to sign up so we don’t run out of dogs. Also indicate on the sign-up page if you or your friends will need childcare as this is being arranged by reservation only.

Most importantly, get your football toss and cornhole game in check. Start launching toys, dirty laundry, file folders, frozen chicken, whatever it takes to get your cornhole arm in good condition for the stiff competition in store. You build a lot of muscle loading cornhole boards and bags into vehicles, so be sure to do that Saturday night just before heading out.

UMM & WOW Tailgate Party
Saturday, Sept. 8
6 p.m.
Soapstone Stadium  –  a.k.a. the back lot near the amphitheater

Hope you’re planning to join us for next week’s summer book discussion focused on Todd Johnson’s novel The Sweet By and By. We’ll beat the heat with some ice cream treats reminiscent of Margaret and Bernice’s escape to the Tastee Freeze and some very cool conversation about the lives of these five Southern women and what they teach us.

I’ve heard from several people that they LOVED (yes, shouty capitals) this book. Me, too. And I can’t wait to swap favorite passages next  Wednesday, July 25, at 7 p.m. in room 101/103 at Soapstone. Here are a few to whet your appetite:

  • “If you ever want to feel full in this life, you’re gon have to ask if you might be made for somethin bigger than yourself. And when you can answer that, the only other question is what are you gon do about it.”
  • “I think the trick is knowing where you’re supposed to be, and letting go of everything else long enough to be there.”
  • “I want you to know something if you don’t already. Life is choosing whom and what you love. Everything else follows…”

There are about fifty-hundred more I could list, but I’ll try to save something for next Wednesday. Hope to see you there.

By the by, here are a few discussion questions we’ll use (adaptations of those offered by Harper Collins Publishers):

1. What does each unique woman bring to the story?  (Margaret, Bernice, Lorraine, Rhonda, April)

2. From Thanksgiving and the Fourth of July to Margaret and Bernice’s escape to the Tastee Freez, holidays and food are powerful motifs in The Sweet By and By. What function do these motifs play in the story? In our lives?

3. In Chapter Twenty-Six, April claims there are only two unforgivable sins: sickness and aging. Why do you think she says this? How do we view these “sins”?

4. Several of Lorraine’s chapters take place in church. How does Lorraine understand the role of God in her life, and does that change over the course of the novel? Has your view of God changed over the course of your life?

5. What does the title The Sweet By and By allude to? What do you feel it means in relationship to your own life?

6. What role does race play in the novel? Why do you think the author waits before revealing Margaret’s race?

7. In Chapter Twenty-Four, Lorraine, Margaret and Rhonda read Bernice Stokes’ letters to her deceased son. Lorraine says, “Don’t think she didn’t know, honey. There’s ways of knowing that we don’t know nothing about.” What do you think Lorraine means here?

8. Why does Margaret insist on naming Bernice’s second stuffed animal?

9. Is Margaret and Bernice’s escape related to Bernice’s death? Why or why not?

10. The novel is filled with uncharacteristic representations of age. In Chapter Twenty-Two, Rhonda recounts how as a child her grandmother threw away her dolls and told her, “You’re grown up now…. Let the past be the past!” A page later, she washes “Mister Benny’s” hair for an aging Bernice Stokes. In one of the novel’s final scenes, April takes her aging mother to the planetarium. Can you think of other passages like this? What does The Sweet By and By tell us about childhood, adulthood, and aging?

11. What did you learn about friendship from this novel? Love? Forgiveness? Dreams?

Have ideas for any other good questions to include?

In honor of Mother’s Day, the United Methodist Men are breaking code and inviting Soapstone gals to breakfast.

For those of you unfamiliar with this pork-product-palooza, let’s just say you may want to go light on Friday night’s dinner; these events have a reputation for button busting. The guys have promised a healthy assortment of fresh fruit too, so don’t the potential calories keep you from the fun. It’s amazing how a strawberry or two on the plate can cancel out a whole rasher of bacon.

Rod and Vicki Morris and Jim and Jan Sweeney will join us to share the adventures of their recent travels to the Holy Land. They have some wonderful photos and experiences you won’t want to miss. Let’s also be sure to ask for their tips on how to travel with your spouse for extended periods of time without wishing he or she were returning home in the checked baggage instead of the seat next to you.

C’mon, gals. Pop those frozen waffles in the toaster for the kids and join us at this special Saturday event cooked up with you in mind. Who’s in?

Pentecost is a church season rich in symbolism, color and imagination. WOW is set to celebrate by capturing these elements in beautiful outdoor paper and glass lanterns we create together.

Artist Amy Fetzer will guide us Tuesday, May 22 from 7-9 p.m. at Soapstone as we combine basic cutting and pasting, decoupage, wire wrap, beading and more. Supplies will be provided, but feel free to bring extra paper, embellishments and a verse or music lyric related to the Spirit. You also may bring extra glass or plastic jars of any size.

When the lanterns are finished, we will light the candles and retell the story of Pentecost with a fresh perspective, contemplating how the Holy Spirit is illuminated in us today.

Hope you can join us. We’ll post photos of our lanterns to share with those who can’t be with us.

Only a few days remain until the Belk Charity Sale this Saturday, April 21 from 6-10 a.m. It’s not too late to pick up a few tickets for you and friends.

Soapstone is among a select group of charitable organizations invited to particpate in the private annual sale event, which means that 100 percent of your $5 ticket price goes directly toward Soapstone missions. In addition to serving as your admittance to the sale, the ticket promises a $5 discount on Belk purchases (one ticket per purchase). Buy several tickets to share with friends, co-workers, neighbors and family or use them yourself to get $5 off multiple purchases you make in departments throughout the store.

Now is the perfect time to knock several upcoming gift-giving opportunities off your list, including Mothers’ Day, Fathers’ Day, graduation and spring/summer birthdays.

Not available early Saturday morning? No worries. Shop early, show your ticket to any Belk associate, and your purchases can be held for pickup later in the day or week.

So what are you waiting for? Tickets are available while they last in the church office all this week.

See you Saturday!

Yikes – has it really been since Christmas that we’ve posted something new to the WOW blog?

It’s time to get up off the couch, grab our sneakers and join WOW this Saturday, March 24 at 8 a.m. for a brisk walk at Shelley Lake (1400 West Millbrook Road).

Let’s meet at the Sertoma Art Center parking lot to get started.  No need to sign up, come if you can.  Strollers, friends and dogs welcome!  For more information or to find out if bad weather will postpone the walk, contact Rhonda Balser at rmrbgvb@gmail.com or 562-5244.

The finger foods and tree skirt fashions weren’t the only hits of WOW’s third annual Christmas tree skirt party and birthday bash for Jesus Dec. 8. This year’s event also featured a retro rendition of the wildly popular game show, Let’s Make a Deal, with the Zoe Soapstone Christmas Challenge destined as the Big Deal winner.

WOW gals with fruit-named lipsticks line up to see what's under Bowl No. 1.

Party guests pilfered through pocketbooks to count their lipsticks and glosses, tossing in a quarter for each. Those with colors with fruit in the name played for special prizes, including a few “Zonk!” deals: a fly swatter, Tidy Bowl toilet cleaner, SPAM and a can of Who hash.

WOW gals ponied up 25 cents for each time their Christmas trees had fallen over in the past, and 50 cents if it had never toppled over. (There’s a price for perfection.) When Jiffy Pop made an appearance, attendees were asked to guess what state proudly calls this giant foil bun o’corn their own. Those who guessed Nebraska made their way to the prize doors for a game of chance; others dug deep for a 50-cent penalty.

With 28 frequent shopper cards, Tammy Pare adds $2.80 to the Zoe basket and wins a chance to play for prizes.

Cathy Knowles

Frequent shopper cards on a key ring or in a wallet cost players 10 cents each. With a whopping 28 cards, Tammy Pare won the shopper card prize, which she quickly traded for what was behind Door #2. Her family is no doubt thrilled with the box of chicken-flavored Rice-a-Roni she scored. (What’s a game of Let’s Make a Dealwithout the San Francisco treat?) On cue, attendees chimed in together to recall the product jingle.

Louise Fussell

Several WOW gals – Cathy Knowles, Louise Fussell and Rebecca Galloway – elfishly agreed to have their elf hat portraits posted to the WOW blog in exchange for a $1 donation from each attendee. With the biggest turnout for the tree skirt party ever, this challenge proved prolific.

Rebecca Galloway

Devotional books, Christian music CDs and some tasty chocolate prizes were top wins for those who stuck it out long enough to find the real goodies. And by the time the candles were lit on the birthday cake for Jesus, $211.11 had been raised for the Zoe Soapstone Christmas Challenge.

Now, that’s a good deal.

The audience goes wild ... well, sort of.

Rebecca Galloway (seated) wins one of the many "Zonk!" prizes: toilet bowl cleaners.

Beth Rea walks away a winner with animal print fireplace matches.