Saturday, December 29, 2007

A few of my favorite things...

The beach... quiet... peaceful... a God place...

Unexpected sighting - a bald eagle!

Me with my family... I love them! L to R: me, The Harpist,
Reedy Girl, Beloved Bearded Spouse

There is no way to describe the peace that
rolls over me...
Thank you, God!

Thursday, December 27, 2007

And to all a Good Night...

Twas the Day after Christmas...
(I will spare you the bad poetry!)

I went out to get a shot of the sunset over the marsh and thought it couldn't get any more beautiful. And ten minutes later, it did.

Which got me to thinking...

There is always more God-beauty around the corner.

Advent is over.
The waiting is done.
And yet is not...

Merry Christmas
God's peace!!!


Sunday, December 23, 2007

i can haz prezzents?

Merry Christmas!

(from all of us... including Polgara...)

funny pictures
moar funny pictures


nope. not gonna

So I won't...

Life IS good.
Merry Christmas!


Friday, December 21, 2007

Friday Five: It's Almost Christmas!

Rev HRod from RevGalBlogPals writes:

I have debated with myself for weeks about today's Friday Five.
  • Self 1: It should be deep and theological.
  • Self 2: But it's almost Christmas, it should be fun and warm and sweet.
  • Self 1: But your last Friday Five was sort of silly. You should show your more serious side.
  • Self 2: You worry WAY too much!
So after consulting with my fourteen year old daughter, we're going playful, pals o' mine! I love stories, so I hope you'll tell some about your favorite Christmas memories.

1. What was one of your favorite childhood gifts that you gave?
One year, one of my sisters and I were shopping for my mom. We were going to go in on a present together. We were walking ALL OVER the boutique of my family's choice (KMart) when we spotted this lovely animal. It was pink. It had rainbow-lined ears and a string tail. It was soft plush. It was a mouse. A BIG mouse. About 15 inches long. We thought it was beautiful!!! Mom HAD to have it!!! It was PERFECT!!! We bought it, carried it home, and with the help of a very surprised older sibling, wrapped it. What did Mom say when she unwrapped it? I don't remember. I am sure she said "thank you!" I know that she never would have guessed (unless our older sib ratted on us...) I don't know if Pink Mouse is still around.

2. What is one of your favorite Christmas recipes? Bonus points if you share the recipe with us.
That's a hard one. I think the "Chocolate Sugar Bombs" are now probably my kids' favorite. I like SIN-namon Rolls on Christmas morning.


(I think they are called "Kiss Surprise cookies" but I like my kids' name better.)

1 cup butter, softened
40 Hershey's kisses, unwrapped
1/2 cup confectioner's sugar + 1 cup
2 cups flour
1 cup finely chopped nuts
1 tsp vanilla.

Beat butter, 1/2 cup sugar and vanilla until light and fluffy. At low speed, slowly mix in flour and nuts until well combined.

Shape into 40 balls, wrapping a kiss in the middle of each ball of dough. Completely cover the kiss with cookie dough. Roll between your palms to smooth and then place on an ungreased cookie sheet.

Bake 12 minutes at 375 degrees F until set. Do not brown.

While hot, roll in 1 cup confectioner's sugar. Set on rack to cool. When cooled, roll in sugar again.
To make these look Christmas-y, we have added green or red cookie sugars to the confectioner's sugar before rolling. I'd put up a picture but they have all been eaten!


First, to do this recipe, you have to be making a batch of homemade bread (sorry). In a pinch you can get commercially frozen bread dough and thaw it. THEN proceed with these directions.

Take one loaf's worth of dough.
Divide it in half, and roll out each half on a floured surface until it is thin but still manageable. Sprinkle brown sugar and cinnamon over the surface.
Add dabs of butter here and there.
Sprinkle over the surface: chopped nuts, cinnamon candies or raisins - about 1/2 cup total.
Roll up dough jelly roll fashion and slice into about 1 inch slices.
Place slices, sides touching, onto a greased pan. Press down gently. Let rise.
Bake 12 minutes or until golden brown.
Makes about 1 dozen cinnamon rolls.

These freeze well, microwave well, apply directly to the hips EXTREMELY well.

3. What is a tradition that your family can't do without? (And by family, I mean family of origin, family of adulthood, or that bunch of cool people that just feel like family.)
I think it must be stockings. We start filling them now well before Christmas Eve. Everyone contributes little wrapped gifties. The night before we open them, I add the chocolate (...and if my kids are reading this, it's all chocolate with a coconut filling... ha!) We open them before breakfast Christmas morning.

4. Pastors and other church folk often have very strange traditions dictated by the "work" of the holidays. What happens at your place?
Wow. I guess there IS an advantage to working in a non-traditional setting. We will not have a Christmas Eve service this year; instead we are having a church-wide "Open House" for everyone at a local "mansion" which will include something for everyone.

5. If you could just ditch all the traditions and do something unexpected... what would it be?
Ummmm... personally??? Hire a cleaning service to come in and scour my home before and after the holidays. That would be fabulous.

But in any case - Merry Christmas. May God's joy and peace be yours...

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Advent musing: waiting, longing, wondering...

God has a way of stripping me down to nothing...

- no pretenses
- no roles or responsibilities to hide behind
- no assignments or activities to do
- no people to see or mail to answer

Like bare tree branches in the winter sky, He shows me who I am, and what I need more than anything... And it's not covering my tracks or sticking fake leaves on a tree. It's sitting and looking intently at the shape and structure, the weakness and potential flaws of how I am made. It's learning to be the "tree" that I am.

I find I am restless... I hunger for more.

More of what? Good question.

It's not that I want more activity. It's easy enough to do things. I can FIND a hobby. This longing, I think, is for a purpose, of focused intent and involvement. I don't know what kind of church I will work in... though I know where I would like to be. I don't even know if anyone will hire a mom-turned-seminarian with as many miles as I have behind me...

Right now I feel I'm benched watching other people practicing a blocking drill.

I want to be what God has made me to be...

I've got roots growing down to the water,
I've got leaves growing up to the sunshine,
and the fruit that I bear is a sign of the life in me.
I am shade from the hot summer sundown.
I am nests for the birds of the heavens.
I'm becoming what the Lord of trees has meant me to be:
A strong young tree.
(c) Ken Medema

So right now...
The leaves are falling off and need raking.
And there's some really ugly pruning going on.
And it hurts.

But by and by...
I pray it will all be worth it...


Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Advent Musing: When is it "enough"

When have I done ENOUGH?

- shopping
- mailing
- packing
- decorating
- baking
- wrapping
- beribboning
- burning cookies
and... uh...
- complaining?

Apparently, I have done ENOUGH now.

Feeling shrewish (and not very adventish)


Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Favorite Things...

Cheesehead tagged everyone who visited and admits it... so I guess I'm it!

I am doing the Favorite Things meme. Consider this a random list, in no way exhaustive:

  • my beloved and kids
  • cats fur and purrs
  • fall leaves
  • the beach
  • a hot tub in the Alps! :)
  • chocolate
  • rain on the leaves
  • the smell of bread baking
  • kids laughing
  • singing, playing, listening to music
  • celtic music
  • actually, just about ANY kind of music (NOTE: Rap doesn't count as "music")
  • a shelf full of books to read and a week to read them
  • shredding Turabian, one page at a time (target date: May 2009!)
  • football and a beer
  • Ohio State football (with or without beer)
  • family
  • laughing - hard - long - frequently
  • writing (NOT papers)
  • puns
  • surprises (nice ones)
  • bun warmers in my car on a cold day
  • hanging with my buds
  • Henri Nouwen
  • Psalms
  • Christmas lights
  • waves crashing at the beach
  • the wind in the palm trees
  • crickets
And... if you read this... I tag YOU!


Monday, December 17, 2007

beamed down to earth?

I missed a few days of posting. Blame it on cookie baking, church, Christmas parties and shopping. I don't like being so busy that I can't find my Bible because it is under piles of "things" to do on my desk! YUCK!

However, something came my way this weekend that I am so happy to have received. It's a CD set of the Bible - the WHOLE thing! As I was out "on maneuvers" today I took out Luke and popped it in my car CD player. Wonderful!

We've had a recording of parts of the Bible before. They were... hokey! The recording had "sound effects" behind the Scripture reading. For instance, in the account of The Transfiguration of Christ (Matthew 17) the background noise sounds like a transporter from Star Trek was being activated! It was so ludicrous as to be hilarious!!! This was gimmick-free... well-read, and refreshing. Will it take the place of my own devotional studies? No... but it will help to hear it and put it in the front of my thoughts.

But the "transporter" image has kinda stuck with me today. We forget the process of the Incarnation. A human mother. The Holy Spirit. It wasn't by accident or instantaneous. It was... Life! Not a magic trick. Not a beam-down of Jesus to do a three year walk-about. As crazy as that last sentence sounds, it is more believable than a pregnant virgin.

THAT was indeed a miracle...

musing along the way...


Saturday, December 15, 2007

Advent musing: "Testify"


"I am the way, the truth and the life"

33 years old

Last Login: 12/15/2007

View My: Pics | Videos

Some of you know I have pages up on MySpace and FaceBook. It's an easy way to keep up with trends and thoughts (and photos) of -- ahem -- "younger" friends. (Besides, I always did like a good Food Fight!)

This morning, however, I was caught off guard when I noted that a couple of my MySpace buddies have "Jesus" as a Top Friend. Actually, as their #1 friend. So... I went and read the person's page. They seem like honest, God-loving types. They don't think that they are divine, just that they worship One who is.

The kicker came when I clicked on the "add as friend" button... and the dialogue box came up:
"do you want to have Jesus as a friend?"

Possibly seen as sacrilegious by some. Possibly seen as fanatical by others. I found it intriguing that the God of the Universe would be portrayed on a MySpace page.

Guess we need to change the words of the hymn:
"Let ev'ry MySpace page prepare Him room..."

Or... maybe not...


Friday, December 14, 2007

RevGals Friday Five: Rejoice!

Mother Laura from RevGals writes:

Can you believe that in two days we'll be halfway through Advent? Gaudete Sunday: pink candle on the advent wreath, rose vestments for those who have them, concerts and pageants in many congregations. Time to rejoice!

Rejoice in the nearness of Christ's coming, yes, but also in the many gifts of the pregnant waiting time when the world (in the northern hemisphere, at least) spins ever deeper into sweet, fertile darkness.

What makes you rejoice about:

1. Waiting?
That there is something to wait FOR - not like waiting for your car to get repaired or waiting for an appointment. There will be a big Par-TAYyyyy one day. You might even call it world-changing.

2. Darkness?
Initially I was going to say whuuuh? because I really don't like the darkness of winter. But darkness is great for sleeping. And, in the midst of darkness, as it lifts, you can enjoy the Light.

3. Winter?
SO many things. The beauty of bare branches against the sky. The way that you can really see the cardinals in the bushes. The crystal clear sky. The cut of the wind. Everything except ice storms. The down comforter on my bed. Cats who are welcomed snugglers.

4. Advent?
Don't really "do" Advent at our present church which is OK. We haven't missed it, to be honest. But I appreciate the concept of waiting, and turning hearts and minds towards the Christ Child, not the presents and junk.

5. Jesus' coming?
David Phelps wrote a song called "No More Night" and it says it better than I can... (OK, the song is a little schmaltzy... but the words are great!)

The timeless theme, earth and heaven will pass away.
It’s not a dream; God will make all things new that day.
Gone is the curse from which I stumbled and fell.
Evil is banished to eternal hell.

No more night. No more pain.
No more tears. Never crying again.
Praises to the great "I AM."
We will live in the light of the risen Lamb.

Now THAT'S worth waiting for!


Thursday, December 13, 2007

Goofing off?

Am I goofing off?? Or just taking a breather from the hectic pace of life and seminary and interning and parenting and marriage and friends....

I can't seem to get motivated. Christmas is coming. Shopping isn't done. I need baking supplies for a Saturday of cookie baking with Reedy Girl and The Harpist. What I have purchased I need to start wrapping.

And all I can think is... EH.

The pressure during the semester is high, and often intense. Right now my to-do list is blissfully short of MUST do's, and long with COULD do's. And I really don't have the desire to work on either.

I realized that my lackadaisical heart can spill out into my devotional life. I can be a foolish bridesmaid (like the ones in Matthew 25) -- not being diligent. Not really thinking ahead and looking to the day, readying myself for Jesus' return.

At the moment, though, I think it's probably OK if I kick back. Just a little.


posting without comment

Hat tip to Gospel Resurgence and going to seminary... (click on image to make it legible!)


Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Advent Musing: Lift up your heads...

In my pre-caffeinated state, stumbling towards the shower, I almost missed the beautiful sunrise. A little sign that the weather will be changing over the next day from the balmy 60 degrees outside to a more seasonable, chilling rain. A small thing. A fleeting glimpse of the future. I could easily have missed it.

A photography workshop I took once had a motto: "Look Up! Look Out! Be Aware!" -- the idea being that there are always things around us to see, to celebrate and to photograph. But we won't see them in our frame if we don't have our eyes looking up and outward.

The words of Psalm 24 came to me... and I have hummed part of Handel's Messiah as I started my day...

1 The earth is the LORD's, and everything in it,
the world, and all who live in it;

2 for he founded it upon the seas
and established it upon the waters.

3 Who may ascend the hill of the LORD ?
Who may stand in his holy place?

4 He who has clean hands and a pure heart,
who does not lift up his soul to an idol
or swear by what is false.

5 He will receive blessing from the LORD
and vindication from God his Savior.

6 Such is the generation of those who seek him,
who seek your face, O God of Jacob.

7 Lift up your heads, O you gates;
be lifted up, you ancient doors,
that the King of glory may come in.

8 Who is this King of glory?
The LORD strong and mighty,
the LORD mighty in battle.

9 Lift up your heads, O you gates;
lift them up, you ancient doors,
that the King of glory may come in.

10 Who is he, this King of glory?
The LORD Almighty—
he is the King of glory.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Advent musing... re-discovery

There's a pile of boxes near the basement door tonight. After dinner, Reedy Girl and I went to work on some serious Christmas decorating. The tree has ornaments on it (not just lights! gasp!) and the stockings are up by the chimney. Various creches and angels and critters are here, there are everywhere. And the box of Christmas books was unearthed. (Yes. A box. We are serious about our books around here!)

Every box we opened was a new discovery. There's the ornaments that I have been collecting and giving the girls every year, including some they made when they were much smaller. Or the little things that are fun to see and play with as they are unpacked. A table top is covered with a wooden hand painted village from Germany. Many of these things are not new. They are just RENEWED and NEW as we see them again for the first time in 11 months. Memories of finding them or receiving them for the first time.

Re-reading the Christmas story is like that for me. Mary's humility. Elizabeth's acknowledgment. The prophecy of Simeon and the worship and witness of Anna. Joseph's obedience. Angels saying "do not be afraid"... They are old stories and yet each year they are new...

New and renewed... rediscovered...

and my heart is, too...



for your encouragement and your interest in our mission trip to France... This is the celebration video that Bill (our worship and arts pastor) put together for our church... but I'm linking it here.

If you look vewy vewy carefully, you will find me...


Monday, December 10, 2007

Advent musing: weather vane

Chinon vineyard weathervane
Chinon, France

You can see it was a bright, clear day when we toured the Castle Chinon. That sky is unretouched... it was that postcard-blue!

I was entranced by this weathervane, because the variable breezes we had that day were swinging it from point to point, back and forth. (I almost got left behind because I was busy watching the weathervane and not keeping up with my companions!)

The weathervane doesn't tell you which direction the wind will blow NEXT -- it only tells you right now.

Advent. That time of NOW. Not the future. We know the 'wind' will change. We just don't know when. So we wait. We watch.


I think they are serious...

...but I can't stop laughing.

Really. I think that this was created as a "good idea" for the campaign.


Just sayin...


Saturday, December 08, 2007

Waiting... wondering...

Sometimes it is very hard to wait... wait for the seasons to change wait for growth to come wait for blossoming promise wait for the fruit to set on wait for the harvest

I have dreams... visions... plans...
I lay them in Your Hands, Father.

Help me not to begrudge the wait.
Help me not to rush Your turning the seasons.
For even out of sight, the vines are preparing
for Your fruit...

I believe.
I wait.
I long for the New Day to dawn.


Friday, December 07, 2007

Advent Reflection - "done"

My LIST for the semester is DONE! I wish I knew what my grades were, though. I was just about to clear off my desk and joyfully add to the recycling bin, when I realized that "the moment complete, the moment to come" is what Advent is all about.

The semester's assignments are finished and I can start to do all of the other things I wanted to do but haven't done yet for the holidays. "All" I have left are my remaining days of work as an intern for the semester... which I am loving every minute of, by the way...

I am a little restless, though. I want to know my grades on a couple of papers that have been turned in... and it is hard to wait. Part of me wants to incessantly go on-line and view the gradebook. And the rest of me says, "CHILL OUT!"

Advent is like that. We can look ahead anxiously and worry that everything will be an "A+" season. Will the presents get wrapped? Will they be liked? appreciated? Have I forgotten anyone that I need to have a little something for??? And, even though my husband gives me his EXACT list (don't surprise him, just buy the list) isn't there something I can find that he will love??? We can look ahead to the future and miss the moment.

We can long for the return of Jesus and miss the fulfillment of God's promises to us in the Christ Child.

I'm thinking that papers, grades and Advent -- are all kind of the same thing...

Still waiting...

Friday Five: Preparation, Preparation

The Annunciation by Henry Tanner.
Visit The Art Archive for more info on this painting.
Sally at RevGals writes for this week's Friday Five:

This has been a difficult week for me, the death of a little six year old has overshadowed our advent preparations, and made many of us here in Downham Market look differently at Christmas. With that in mind I ask whether you are the kind of person that likes everything prepared well in advance, are you a last minute crammer, or a bit of a mixture.....

Here then is this week's Friday 5:

1. You have a busy week, pushing out all time for preparing worship/ Sunday School lessons/ being ready for an important meeting ( or whatever equivalent your profession demands)- how do you cope?

I have a calendar and I know how to use it. Seriously. I tagged my "due dates" about two months ago. School papers, kid events, work responsibilities, etc. etc. etc. Christmas events are a known entity for the most part, and those went on the calendar last month. I plan my meals, my groceries, and (soon) my Christmas shopping around them. I am someone who suffers from "oooh shiny!" syndrome (as in easily distractable) so lists and staying organized and planning ahead are required. Otherwise, it don't happen.

It's not too late to join FlyLady and pick up some new habits... You can whine all you want, but for people like me who are not B.O. ("born organized") she really knows what we need.

2. You have unexpected visitors, and need to provide them with a meal- what do you do?
  • Go out to eat.
  • Domino's (they deliver)
  • Something from the freezer
  • Hey, it's a pasta night! Two jars of sauce and a box of pasta.
  • A holy meal around Chinese take-out (Nothing says "Advent" like szechuan chicken and spring rolls!)
  • Stop at the store for whatever I need to pull off a 30-minute miracle meal (courtesy of Rachel Ray!)
Three discussion topics:

3. Thinking along the lines of this weeks advent theme; repentance is an important but often neglected aspect of advent preparations.....
Yes. True. But I am not going to do my confession here. (Much as I love you!)

4. Some of the best experiences in life occur when you simply go with the flow.....

A story from a Christmas past...

One Christmas my parents came to share Christmas Eve and Day with us. Reedy Girl was about 18 months old, and The Harpist was about 5 and a half. It was a magical age and they knew it would be fun to watch the girls open presents and experience Christmas with us. EXCEPT...

We all got the stomach flu virus of Christmas Hell. One by one. Beloved Bearded Spouse succumbed first. Then The Harpist (who was actually pre-harp at that point, but I digress.) Then Reedy Girl joined the fun, and finally me. My parents, interestingly, even with my dad in the midst of chemo treatments, never got sick.

Christmas Day we were all on the mend, sort of. I crawled from couch to bed to chair. My mom, experienced in the ways of holidays and Christmases past, took over the kitchen, laundry and found things for a kindergartener to do to "help" and keep her out of my hair. Just before Christmas dinner, Reedy Girl erupted (think split peas and the Exorcist) all over me. With tears in my eyes, I looked up at my mom (who had brought a towel) and said, "NOW WHAT??"

In her matter-of-fact, mom-of-seven, laid-back way, she said, "Wait until she stops dripping and then go clean her and you up."

Yeah. Go with the flow. Always good advice.

5. Details are everything, attention to the small things enables a plan to roll forward smoothly...

Sounds great. Except life doesn't go as planned. Norman Rockwell don't live at my house. The cookies are planned but will likely get burned (some of them, anyway). I will guess correctly on some of my family's wants and wishes, and fail at others. But my goal, even with a calendar and a "plan" is not to do everything on my list, but to experience the season. To rest. To wait. To see and hear and know that God was and IS "with us."

Bonus if you dare- how well prepared are you for Christmas this year?

Laughing hysterically... I'm not.

Lots won't get done. But this much will - my heart will be ready. I've learned that trimming the house to the nines, having perfectly wrapped presents and trays of cookies does nothing in the long haul. It's love. Love around the table, not under the tree.

This year I am trying to blog daily on "waiting"... and that is doing more to help me de-program the commercial, Martha Stewart side of Christmas.

That's my plan and I'm sticking with it!


Thursday, December 06, 2007

S'no way!

A dusting... a mere dusting, I tell you!!! and the whole area went into crazed mode. Streets and interstates were so slick and no one could move. I drove over I-270 on my way into the office and cars were parked. People standing outside their cars, looking and talking... and this was at 10 a.m.

People around here just can't drive in the snow. Even in a dusting of snow. Living in the Mid-Atlantic frequently makes me long for a zip code somewhere else...

But the beauty of the snow in our back yard is something. I just stopped and had moment of worship. The nice thing about the snow is that my flower beds look so... tended. Perhaps it is because all of the weeds and dead foliage are covered up with a soft blanket of white.

It got me to thinking... it is kinda like God's grace. It covers all of our imperfections and shows that glimmer of heaven.

Thanks, God. I needed the reminder... as I wait...


Now playing: Celtic Woman - Don Oíche Úd I MBeithil (That Night In Bethlehem)
via FoxyTunes

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Waiting for the dawn...

I wait for you more eagerly than a soldier on guard duty waits for the dawn. Yes, I wait more eagerly than a soldier on guard duty waits for the dawn. [Psalm 130:6]
Reedy Girl hoped against hope for a snow day today. Her custom is to put out this "report card" on whether or not school is delayed or canceled. Whoever is up first and hears the news circles the appropriate answer.

Sadly for her, today was a "no" - a regular school day began and the buses were running on time.

I don't know how well she sleeps waiting for this news. I remember being excited about the prospect of snow, and longing for that all-important announcement. (And that's when I was a teacher!)

So often it seems we "hope against hope" for others (or other things) to change. And we wait... sometimes for a "no, not yet."

Still waitin'...

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Waiting on the World to change...

From Christine at Abbey of the Arts:

“This season beckons me to ask, what am I preparing for? What is the way that is being prepared within the wilderness of my life? What does it mean for my own life to become a path, a way of welcome for the Holy One? How do I give myself time to notice the ways that the path unfolds before me and within me? What are the acts of preparation that bring delight to my daily life? Whom do I ask or allow to help me prepare?”

-Jan Richardon, Night Visions: Searching the Shadows of Advent and Christmas

As most of you who read here regularly know, I love questions. They are so much more interesting to me than answers and more honest too. The poet Rilke invited us to “live the questions” which for me means living into a spirituality that respects and honors mystery.

Advent is my favorite liturgical season, in part because it parallels my favorite natural season of winter, especially this next month as we descend further and further into the darkness. Advent invites us deeper into womb-space, asks us to trust that the darkness holds wisdom and beauty we cannot yet understand, it demands that we become familiar with the landscape of waiting.


Deb here:

Christine's thoughts (above) sparked a response in my heart. You see, I had kind of written off doing anything for "Advent" this year. It is such a church-y, natty little thing. I don't think God cares about the particulars, just that we notice and remember WHO this is all about. And it's not about liturgy. Or candles. Or "Adornaments" (gag-me-very-much). Or what a "proper" creche should look like, when it should be set up, etc etc etc.

You think I am kidding, but people take this human-side of the equation uber-seriously. Are the colors of the candles all blue, purple and pink or white? (There are people who care very deeply about this and it gets me crazed.)

So, I am totally intrigued with this idea, and as I am ALMOST done with the semester, I think I will actively pursue thinking and blogging on this idea of the "waiting" in Advent.

I think that the song that comes to mind for me, one that is most "Advent-tacious" (no it is not a word, I made it up) is the song by John Mayer: "Waitin' on the World to Change." Because the answer is not in the world changing, it's in the World Changer. And here's the song for your listening pleasure as I cogitate how I am going to pursue this challenge... camera in hand...

Keep on waitin'...

Monday, December 03, 2007

Cow Blog for Mindy

I told Mindy I would share this story with all of you...

So, while we were in Paris, checking out various shops, sites and scenes, we came upon a carousel with really cool hand-carved, painted animals on it. The four of us who were touring Paris together hopped on for a ride at 1 Euro a piece (a cheap moment in Paris, to be sure.) I looked and looked for the animal who would invite me to ride. (You know you don't just HOP on any old animal on a carousel, now, do you? You ask them.)

Well, there were unicorns and horses of various colors. Bunnies. Ducks. Sheep. Goats. Coaches. Chariots. Chaise lounges. And... a lovely cow.

I told her I would like to ride her - not the white horse next to her. And would it be OK? I asked her if she minded because, well, the horses were a little snooty and the unicorn looked like everyone asked her. And I just thought that France having such lovely cheeses, that a carousel ride in Paris - HAD to be on a cow. "Si-Moo-plait?" I asked, politely.

She said, "well, you know my paint's worn a little thin and I've really had a up and down kinda day. I really haven't gotten very far along in life."

I suggested that maybe that was what life was like for everyone, whether or not they worked on a carousel.

She stared off into the distance. "I hadn't thought about it that way," she said. "And I guess I would like to do something else... But OK... hop on."

So we went for a twirl. And she and I had a lovely time. And she sends regards to Mindy.


Saturday, December 01, 2007

A brief wearing of the party hat....

Just a brief wearing of the party hat, here...
a week to go to get all my stuff in for the semester...

All that's left is a 5 pager (a synthesis pager which is mostly, uh, verbal "mulch" if you get my drift) and one 10 pager (research is done, outline is done, just have to do the verbage and the Turabian stuff) and then I will be kickin' the semester.

And then....
Let the nogging begin.

The end is in sight. I can see the light at the end of the tunnel, and, for once, it is not an oncoming train!


Friday, November 30, 2007

On. The. Floor. Laughing...

OK, so if you need a laugh. If you want examples for your sermon of crass, tasteless, consumerism polluting the Nativity story...

Please visit this site! (Hat tip to RevAnne for finding this bit of amazing excess.)

And, if you have any of these nativity sets, I promise I won't laugh too hard when I visit your home...


Thursday, November 29, 2007

Friday Five: "Don't Call It a Comeback" Edition

Will smama from RevGals offers this bah humbug Friday Five. And she made me laugh -- hard -- mid-paper! Gotta LOVE her!

Parishioners pushing for carols before you digested your turkey?
Organist refusing to play Advent hymns because he/she already has them planned for Lessons & Carols?
Find yourself reading Luke and thinking of a variety of ways to tell Linus where to stick it? (Lights please.)
Then this quick and easy Friday Five is for you! And for those of you with a more positive attitude, have no fear. I am sure more sacred and reverent Friday Fives will follow. I know, I know.... pretty grumpy for November but why not get it out of our systems now so we are free to enjoy the rest of the festivities. Peace, friends.
Please tell us your least favorite/most annoying seasonal....
1) dessert/cookie/family food
This is NO contest. Can there be ANYTHING more inedible than a fruitcake? Yes, I know you can add brandy or rum to them and that is supposed to "help" them taste better. I can think of other things that would do those spirits justice. Fruitcake. BLICK. EW.

2) beverage (seasonal beer, eggnog w/ way too much egg and not enough nog, etc...)
Hmmmm.... the only thing I can think of is that fizzy green punch with the ice ring floating in it that has ginger ale and sherbet in it and is sickly sweet.

3) tradition (church, family, other)
Bad Christmas music. Sung by people who think they can sing, but they can't. One of us needs more eggnog. I would prefer it be me. See Bonus below...

4) decoration
Blue lights, strung like a glow worm in a bad design across a bush or two. Or maybe those huge inflated snowglobes???

5) gift (received or given) That's a toughie. Might be the electric knife that didn't cut anything (and I found crumbs in the box so I think the giver had already found out it didn't cut anything either.)

BONUS: SONG/CD that makes you want to tell the elves where to stick it.
We have all heard a soloist give a truly unfortunate rendition of any and all of the following...
PA RUM PUM PUM PUM and a partridge in a pear tree... and it's Christmas Eve and these shoes are just her size... I saw Mommy kissing Santa Claus... Oh Night, oh Hooooooooooooooooohh {glass breaking} ooooooohhhh - leeeee - heeeeee nigh-TUH. Oh Niiiiiiiiiiiiiigh-TUH....... DEEEE-Vine!

I feel better.
Even with three papers and 7 days in which to BS I mean write them.


Wednesday, November 28, 2007

France photoblog: first edition

front row: Naomi, Sara, Vanessa
back row: me, Bill, Jen (in front of) Dan, Keith, Mandy
Taken at the castle Chinon, in the Vienne River Valley, France.

Two weeks ago, the Creative Arts Team from Journey's Crossing was winging its way to France! We were in the city of Poitiers, about 4 hours southwest of Paris. We were tasked with assisting with 2 outreach coffeehouses, and providing part of the music for their American-style Thanksgiving dinner.

The memories and experiences are almost too much to express. I saw God in a new way, He was BIGGER than I had ever had known. I felt God's presence in a small church more powerfully than some of the largest worship services I've ever attended.

It. Was. Amazing.
We went to help this church, Eglise Chretienne de Poitiers. The church planters are friends of our home church. The Poitiers church is celebrating its 20th anniversary. Church planting in a country of centuries-0ld churches seems anachronistic. Yet a minority of citizens actually ever attend church services of any kind, during any season of the year. Protestant churches, particularly evangelical ones, are almost seen as a "cult" because the members are active and involved in church year-round.

The altar at St. Hilarie, Poitiers

Though they are seen more as "museums" than places of worship, to me there was a sense of God's timelessness. And a sense that He works in history, through history, reaching a people He calls His own. I see what I do every day as just a speck of dust in the grandeur of a plan for Eternity. Not in a self-deprecating way, but in an awe-inspiring way, that what I can do is part of a great Movement, a grand design.

Baptistère Saint-Jean, Poitiers

I did not get to visit the inside of this Baptistere, but those who did had to tell me that they were overwhelmed with a sense of history and of the Presence of God. The building has been dated to around 360 A.D. and was built for the sacrement of baptism. (Until it was built, converts were baptized in the nearby River Clain.)

part of a Roman temple column in Sanxay ruins
the ruins of the Roman ampitheatre in Sanxay

Part of the history of France is the way that the Church intertwined with the people, with power and with politics in a negative way. It seems that since Roman occupation, it has been that way. Small wonder that the modern citizen looks at any church with suspicion... or with at least a major disinterest. Dare I say it? The Church in America today should have a cautionary moment of reflection before we get too immerse in politics that we forget our primary mission is people. And that God can and will put into power those He chooses, without our "help"!

a double rainbow! driving from Sanxay to Poitiers

As I shot this photo, I couldn't help but think that we still are living in the time of God's Promise Kept, God's Promise to Come. We are starting to move into Advent. The double rainbow neatly illustrates that...

I have hope. I live in the promises.

More to come...

Monday, November 26, 2007

When I graduate...

When I graduate...

...I am going to take my copy of Turabian and either rip it into pieces, or put it through my shredder, page by page, with great zeal and joy.

And that's all I'm sayin...


Sunday, November 25, 2007

Happee Fangsgivings

Too cute...

funny pictures
moar funny pictures

preaching without a voice

How do you preach without a voice?

Dunno. But that's what happened today. My cold did not go away. I have a cough that will make ya cringe. And me and the lotion tissues box are never far away from each other...

Was it perfect? No. Was it the best I could give. Yeah, I think so. Did God's message get across? Judging from a couple of heart-to-heart chats afterwards... yes.

I didn't do this on my own. I have great mentors. I have the resources of an experienced teaching team who willingly share with me their knowledge and experience. And I'm still overwhelmed at the process of being bent, shaped, molded and used... and knowing that in my heart of hearts, what I managed to bring out (exegete, if you will) pleased God.

To my praying friends and family, blogging and non-blogging - thanks...

with a full heart...

Friday, November 23, 2007

Post Thanksgiving Day Friday Five

Singing Owl of RevGals writes:

Ah, the day after Thanksgiving -- groan! Fortunately, I love Thanksgiving leftovers.

Thanksgiving is the American holiday when the greatest number of people travel somewhere else to celebrate. I am posting this from my son’s home in Minnesota where we are recovering from the food shopping and the preparations and the meal and the clean up. It is difficult to think of anything requiring much energy today, and I am enjoying my sweet baby granddaughter, so I will keep it simple. For those of you not in the USA, I apologize for the nationalistic tone of this Friday Five!
1. Did you go elsewhere for the day, or did you have visitors at your place instead? How was it?
We had a relatively quiet day. Just Beloved Bearded Spouse, his mom and our kids. Since I felt pretty stink-o, it was probably just as well that we weren't around a lot of people... I would have infected them all.

2. Main course: If it was the turkey, the whole turkey, and nothing but the turkey, was it prepared in an unusual way? Or did you throw tradition to the winds and do something different?
Personally I would rather have ANYTHING besides turkey. It's not my favorite dish. I make a great dish of squash and apples that the adults love and kids choke down. (The recipe is HERE.) This year I threw tradition to the winds and got a meal from the grocery with a pre-cooked turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes, rolls and pie all done for me. Sacrilege? Maybe. But the part the girls like the best was the stuffing, and no one else seemed to mind.

3. Other than the meal, do you have any Thanksgiving customs that you observe every year?
We use napkin holders that look like turkeys, made my by mother-in-law. For two years in a row now, we have watched the National Dog Show as the turkey finishes cooking. And then later, football!!!

4. The day after Thanksgiving is considered a major Christmas shopping day by most US retailers. Do you go out bargain hunting and shop ‘till you drop, or do you stay indoors with the blinds closed? Or something in between?
Well, actually, we usually never go out. Kind of a rant against the machine sort of thing. This year we went with folks from our church and handed out hot chocolate and coffee for the hordes who were shopping at a local mall. Free always goes over.

5. Let the HOLIDAY SEASON commence! When will your Christmas decorations go up?
Probably after all of my papers, assignments and projects get turned in on December 8th!! Or sooner if someone in the household gets inspired. (One can always hope.)

Still sneezing... please may this cold go away!


Thursday, November 22, 2007

10 things!

I am getting a cold just before my student sermon this Sunday. What great timing. (not) I really feel like crawling into the nearest hole... but I have made it through making Thanksgiving dinner (with help) and Beloved Bearded Spouse is going to do the rest of the clean up. I am taking a break from sermon prep. I'm trying not to complain here, but this demon of a cold could have waited until next week. Ya know?

OK. An antidote to complaining is gratitude... or so I am going to preach... (very funny, Lord.) So for a taste of my own medicine, here's 10 things that make me thankful for this cold.

  1. tissues
  2. purr therapy from Tiria (apparently I am forgiven for leaving for 10 days)
  3. throat spray called "Singer's Saving Grace"
  4. ibuprophen
  5. robitussin cough gels (last 8 hours)
  6. it's not the flu
  7. it's not bronchitis
  8. I don't have to sing this week
  9. so far I haven't given this bug to anyone else
  10. I'm getting out of cleaning up after a turkey dinner


Wednesday, November 21, 2007

25 Steps

From Cathy and MaryBeth's blogs:

I saw a blog game on a couple of Quaker blogs (this one and this one), so I thought I'd offer a similar game with a spin on class based. It's based on an exercise developed by Will Barratt, Meagan Cahill, Angie Carlen, Minnette Huck, Drew Lurker, Stacy Ploskonka at Illinois State University that I found on this Yahoo group around class on college campuses. The exercise developers hold the copyright but have given me permission to post it here and ask that if you participate in this blog game, you acknowledge their copyright.

  • Father went to college
  • Father finished college
  • Mother went to college
  • Mother finished college
  • Have any relative who is an attorney, physician, or professor.
  • Were the same or higher class than your high school teachers
  • Had more than 50 books in your childhood home
  • Had more than 500 books in your childhood home
  • Were read children's books by a parent
  • Had lessons of any kind before you turned 18
  • Had more than two kinds of lessons before you turned 18
  • The people in the media who dress and talk like me are portrayed positively
  • Had a credit card with your name on it before you turned 18
  • Your parents (or a trust) paid for the majority of your college costs
  • Your parents (or a trust) paid for all of your college costs
  • Went to a private high school
  • Went to summer camp
  • Had a private tutor before you turned 18
  • Family vacations involved staying at hotels
  • Your clothing was bought new before you turned 18
  • Your parents bought you a car that was not a hand-me-down from them
  • There was original art in your house when you were a child
  • Had a phone in your room before you turned 18
  • You and your family lived in a single family house
  • Your parent(s) owned their own house or apartment before you left home
  • You had your own room as a child
  • Participated in an SAT/ACT prep course
  • Had your own TV in your room in High School
  • Owned a mutual fund or IRA in High School or College
  • Flew anywhere on a commercial airline before you turned 16
  • Went on a cruise with your family
  • Went on more than one cruise with your family
  • Your parents took you to museums and art galleries as you grew up
  • You were unaware of how much heating bills were for your family
In the group exercise which was originally designed for college students, staff and faculty, everyone stands in a line and steps forward if any of these things are true for them.

Notice that each of these are things that were given to you or provided for you rather than things you necessarily earned yourself. The exercise instructions note that just because you've taken a lot of steps doesn't mean that you haven't worked hard to get where you are. But perhaps consider the things you've had handed to you that others didn't have.

How about you? How many would you have taken? How many steps will your kids have taken by the time they're 18 (or how many did they take before they turned 18)?

To participate in this blog game, copy and paste the above list into your blog, and bold the items that are true for you. If you don't have a blog, feel free to post your responses in the comments. If you post this in your blog, please leave a comment on this post.


This was thought-provoking!

If we were all in a big room, I would have taken 25 steps forward. I've often jokingly said that the only thing my parents never gave me was a horse. It's really true.

As I post this on my blog, it's the day before American Thanksgiving. I've just come back from a mission trip to France and once again seen how BIG our GOD is -- and how much He loves the world. The WHOLE world. And I also have seen how narrow and petty my focus can be...

So I leave this for your reflection as well. I found it incredibly humbling. I'm blessed and don't want to seem ungrateful for my upbringing, because I am. My parents were good to me and my sibs, and sacrificed a lot for us.



Now playing: Building 429 - Because You're Mine

via FoxyTunes

Tuesday, November 20, 2007


Home. Tired. Dirty clothes and wine unpacked. Must. find. bed. More later...
And yes. BEAUCOUP pictures to share. And stories. Soon.


Saturday, November 10, 2007



No, I'm not packed, finished with my paper, my sermon or the chores that need doing before I go. It's gonna be a LOoooooooooonnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnggggg night. And an early morning. ai yi yiiiiiii!

We are leaving for France tomorrow, right after church!!!!!!!!!! I am on a team with 8 super folks. It is going to be fun, hard work, exhausting and exhilarating. Catch you when we're back!


Friday, November 09, 2007

Friday Five - Extravagant Unbusyness

Sally from RevGals writes:

I am writing in my official capacity of grump!!! No seriously, with the shops and stores around us filling with Christmas gifts and decorations, the holiday season moving up on us quickly for many the time from Thanksgiving onwards will be spent in a headlong rush towards Christmas with hardly a time to breathe.... I am looking at the possibility of finding little gaps in the day or the week to spend in extravagant "unbusyness"(a wonderful phrase coined by fellow revgal Michelle...)
So given those little gaps, name 5 things you would do to: care for your body

Step AWAY from the cookies. And the chocolate. Seriously.

2. to care for your Spirit
Keep up my Pray-As-You-Go sessions. Whoever it was that pointed me to this resource, thank you, thank you, THANK YOU! You don't have to do the podcast... you can listen on-line. It's a breath of fresh joy every day.

3. to care for your mind
When my textbooks are closed for the semester (in a little over 3 weeks!!!) I intend to read, but read stuff that is not footnoted and theological! Not brain candy either. I've got to blog what is on my reading list... and my wishlist!

4. to bring a sparkle to your eye
Contact lenses, perhaps? Hmmmm... no, more likely to look around my home and my church and see the people that God has providentially put into my life. They make me smile.

5. to place a spring in your step
Laughter. Fun stuff. Places and spaces to communicate thanks and peace and joy to the ones I mentioned in #4.

Enjoy the time to indulge and dream.... and then for a bonus which one on the list are you determined to put into action?
Well, the hardest one will be the first one. But I hope that I will be able to live out the rest. I didn't go crazy with my ideas. Just stayed practical and real. Time as a family over Christmas week is very important... to my beloved and me.

That's what I'm thinkin'


Thursday, November 08, 2007

Grace falling like rain...

I have a sense of God's love washing over me... in ways that I did not expect today. It's busy. It's almost so busy it's frantic. But love and peace are falling down on my head, in an almost overwhelming way...

Why is that? and why and I so surpised?? WHO is in charge?? I sense His love and blessing and am weeping...

  • Maybe it's because I am a few days away from departure and am feeling some (self-induced) performance pressure
  • Maybe it's because I am writing a sermon on "complaining" and I realize how much I do it myself... a case of preacher, heal thyself?
  • Maybe it's because I am receiving emails and letters full of love - - of excitement, joy and encouragement as I'm preparing to leave
  • Maybe it's the deadline extended on a paper that was supposed to be done and won't be
  • Maybe it's because God's grace flows when we look up and cry, "OH GOD, HELP!"

I am undone.
God is kind and loving and gracious.
And it is never earned... only given...

Not whining or complaining.
Just incredibly grateful...

and dang it, crying again.


Hallelujah, grace like rain falls down on me
Hallelujah, all my stains are washed away, washed away

Now playing: Todd Agnew - Grace Like Rain
via FoxyTunes

Buckeye Jesus???

This possibly comes under the heading of taking the Lord's Name in vain... but with tongue in cheek, it's the "Big Butter Jesus" helping out with the 'O-H-I-O' cheer.

We won't go into WHY a church thought that statue was a good idea... OK? It's not my church. Not even in my town... I would note that last year the "touchdown Jesus" at Notre Dame "helped" do the same cheer.

Keeping a sense of humor in the whirlwind...


Monday, November 05, 2007

political leanings...

well, I don't know as this is accurate, but it was fun to play...

Your Political Profile:

Overall: 45% Conservative, 55% Liberal

Social Issues: 50% Conservative, 50% Liberal

Personal Responsibility: 50% Conservative, 50% Liberal

Fiscal Issues: 25% Conservative, 75% Liberal

Ethics: 50% Conservative, 50% Liberal

Defense and Crime: 50% Conservative, 50% Liberal

Sunday, November 04, 2007

I got an award!

Sista Cala at Timeless Text Messages gave me this award. And you know what? Just getting it from her made me smile, too.

So thanks...

And now I will ponder who I will nominate for this award... (Note: the judge can be won over with chocolate.)


Saturday, November 03, 2007

some serious fun!

First... I got my swap from Mindy. WHAT FUN!!! I have hidden the hot chocolate. (With 4 confirmed chocoholics in the house, do you think I'm crazy???)

The Harpist swiped the headband (you can't see it in the pic because it was already GONE!) There was a cool bookmark made with a silvery handle and beads. There was Play-Do (I am such a kid at heart), some fun, fun buttons, stickers and 3-D glasses, coupons, mini-gourds (SO cute) and more.

Next... the creative mind of ReedyGirl who decided that, after she took her hair out of many, many braids from a special "do" from the Ren Fest, she looked like Hermione. The Harpist was surprised but hammed it up for the camera... And then Reedy Girl posed with a "wand" (a wooden dowel, really. But don't tell.)

Then... I saw a kiosk top (made of paper mache') and thought that she could have an UMBRELLA Halloween costume... so we cut a hole out of the middle and put in a bicycle helmet so that she could wear it. Word on the street is that people thought she was a mushroom (aka a "Smurf Mushroom") or a "blueberry meringue" BUT they liked it enough that they gave a 12 year old candy... so as far as she was concerned, it's ALL good.

Finally... a major disappointment. I wanted The Harpist to call me for a ride home from high school on Halloween. I was all ready for her. I was going to be "Miss Understood" but alas!! She took the bus. Dang.

You know, I haven't embarrassed her properly in front of her friends for at least, oh, three days. This seemed to be a golden opportunity. (Need I tell you that she was relieved that she decided to ride the "Cheese-Wagon" that day?)

My costume was inspired by Meryl Streep's little known solo "Nobody Understands Me." (Mindy - I must send you a CD... one of the songs is "COWS"!!! YES. REALLY!) And if you don't know the words to the song, they are from the "Philadelphia Chickens" album...

And that, my friends, is all of the silliness that happened this week...

Everything else is quite serious. Really. You know me...


Now playing: Truth is a Whisper
via FoxyTunes