Friday, February 23, 2007

Friday Five: Companions on the Way...

Songbird from RevGalBlogPals posted this week's Friday Five:

Dante had Virgil as a guide. Before he had younger siblings, my oldest child had an imaginary friend named Patrick. Betsy had Tacy. Laura Ingalls depended on her brindle bulldog, Jack.

All of them were companions on the way. As we take the beginning steps of our journey through Lent, who would we take as a companion? Name five people, real or imaginary, you might like to have with you as guide or guardian or simply good friend.

This one is not too hard for me...

1. God/Jesus/Holy Spirit: The Trinity... Who live in me anyway so I might as well confess it! But not the stern, "smack - you - from - heaven" kind. More like the "Creator - who - loves - creation" God... My embracing, encouraging, exhorting, "get - going - and - serve" Holy Spirit... My "lay - your - life - down" Savior... Which is why I love this picture!

2. My Beloved Bearded Spouse... 20 years in April... Need I say more?

3. My sweet kids. I learn more from you than I teach you, many days.

My friends and sisters of the heart... (you know who you are...) We've laughed together. Worried together. Cried together. Lived life on this planet together. Can't imagine moving forward without you!

5. The people who have shaped me in my past, and many of whom are an important part of my present... because I would not have journeyed this far without them... parents... sibs... bosses (even the ones that made me crazy)... old roommates... ex-boyfriends (even the ones that hurt me)... church families (healthy and extremely, EXTREMELY sick ones)... professors and students...

"It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end." [Ursula LeGuin]
Thanks, friends...

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Modesty or Prudery? Survey says...

I just surfed over to Emergent Women to catch up on posts. I have a slow morning as I wait for the Help Desk to call me back on why my computer is not connecting with the on-line articles I need....


From a post on Emergent Women, I went to the Modesty Survey site to read up on it. As they suggested, I considered the questions, the responses and used their "filter" to see what the three different groups of guys (homeschooled, private schooled, public schooled) said in their answers. To be fair, let me post a couple of paragraphs from their overview

The Modesty Survey was not intended to serve as a scientific measurement of what the average man thinks about modesty. In the strictest sense, it isn't a survey, but a discussion between Christian guys and girls who care about modesty. Over 200 Christian girls submitted their questions. In less than twenty days, over 1,600 Christian guys (12 and up) responded. Close to 200,000 separate pieces of data were collected, including 25,000 text responses.

The honest truth is this: We're not telling you what to wear -- we're just telling you what makes us stumble. It is God's Word, your own heart and conscience, and your parents and godly friends who should help you decide what to do about it. But, to help you reach your own conclusions we've provided some excellent resources that strike a balanced, non-legalistic tone.
This all sounds good. My husband and I do care that my girls are not raised to be 3-D boy-magnets. (I blogged about it here.) We do care that they show a positive testimony for Christ in their schools and community. We want to spare them from some of the emotional harm that comes from being used because of their sexuality. We want them to be WOMEN in every sense of the word when they grow up, not neutered cowering things. If Eve was "very good" then hey - let's be "VERY" much that!

I think what was the hardest to deal with in the survey was that (a) there is no information on HOW these men and boys were recruited to answer the questions. and (b) there is no comparable information in a secular study. (If you are working on your dissertation, here's a great topic for ya!) It is a hazard of having training in research and design. They admit it is not scientific. Yet for the results to have any validity, (and believe me, they are pushing the results!) there needs to be more accountability. A big glossy website with bells and whistles has been set up. WHY? I want more details than they are publishing. I wonder at the demographics (more than a map of where they came from... I want denominational backgrounds, how they were recruited, who funded it, yada, yada...)

But the problem goes deeper than this. While there were comments that addressed the boy's and men's part of the issues, (the comments are worth reading by the way), there was little content that suggested that any of this was a dual responsibility. There was the disclaimer ("We're not telling you what to wear...") One came away with the thought that it was all a female's fault if a guy had "thought life" issues because of what she might wear. I just don't buy that.

Of all of the words that gets tossed about and the most misunderstood, it's "modesty" -- which is not a synonym with "prudery." Learning modesty is part of the process of learning to control our thoughts, feelings, emotions and actions. It is not just what clothes go on our body. It is also more than words.

I understand that immature males have "sight" issues. I know that men are aroused visually. But unless it is your spouse, it is sin. And yes, a female who dresses to provoke sexual thoughts and feelings is guilty of enticement. But the average, every-day female athlete who bounces by is not. And neither are girls with curves, or long legs, or shirts with designs on the chest.

I don't think this "survey" is doing Christ-followers any favors. I fear for the "see-I-told-you-so" chauvenists who will print out the results and wave them at the women in their congregations, cowing them and shaming them... I shudder at bit at the crass marketing promo materials one can download and a sample "email" as an "Excited" Friend! (Check it out HERE!)

Instead of doing the blame or shame game, how about looking at the men you disciple and say, "these are your co-heirs in Christ - look at them and treat them that way."
And to both "Go and sin no more!"

It is time we stopped looking at each other as potential sex partners and starting honoring the Life, the Spirit who is housed in the Temple of the human body...

Just from where I sit...and pray...

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Now how 'bout that??

I have a new toy. It's called Goggle Analytics. I have never had such fun discovering who visits this blog! Here's a screen shot from tonight...

Most of the countries I can think of someone I know who might be living there... but if you are from Iran or Peru, give me a shout-out, would you?

And wherever you are from... thanks for visiting!

God's peace - transcending peace be yours...


Ash Wednesday

You asked, 'Who is this that obscures my counsel without knowledge?'
Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know.
"You said, 'Listen now, and I will speak; I will question you, and you shall answer Me.'
My ears had heard of You but now my eyes have seen You. Therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes."

Job 42:3-6

I'm from a relatively non-liturgical background. Yet, I like to mark the seasons and remember the passing of Lent. It seems to me to be a fitting way to prepare for the joyous celebration of Easter. It is important! Sometimes in the moment, in the rush, in the desire to get papers written, songs learned, talks given, and studies led, I forget. I forget that without God's Gift I would be hopelessly on my own.

I have a double-edged discipline for Lent. I give up and I add on.

I am giving up chocolate. Sounds childish. But for a chocoholic, it is a good self-discipline. And my waistline won't really miss it.

I am adding on two disciplines...

  1. I am memorizing Colossians 3 (enough procrastinating! I need to DO it!)
  2. I am adding a weekly fast to my routine. (I am not going to tell you which day because I want to do it without drawing attention to it.)
Holy Fire....
burn away my desire for anything

That is not of You
and is of me
I want more of You
and less of me.
Empty me...
[Jeremy Camp]

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Hero worship

I'm gonna make it to heaven
Light up the sky like a flame
I'm gonna live forever
Baby remember my name



It has been bothering me recently... this idea of "heroes" and "idols" and "stars" in our fame-obsessed culture. I mean, who decides?
  • Must I listen to the press releases of various political, social and entertainment industry handlers?
  • How do I explain or relate to a culture that worries more about the death of a breast-implanted ex-playmate than two teenagers in our home town?
  • Why are the natterings of a congressman from Poughkeepsie more important than the local news? (well, unless you are from Poughkeepsie!)
  • And why should it matter if politician X speaks at this university and politician Y speaks at that one?
Yet it seems to make a big hairy deal to some folks... I guess it should matter to me.

But it doesn't.

Stick a fork in me. I'm done...


Friday, February 16, 2007

Why there is no school today...

The streets are not fully plowed...
The parking lots are not fully plowed...
The sidewalks are a glacier...
Several thousand folks are still without power...

I marveled that in a county where they push AP classes like crack, that they don't have the funds to clean the streets. I'm talking BIG commuter arteries here. Forget our cul-de-sac... The stores have done a better job but they push the snow into piles in weird places. I stood on an iceberg 3 feet in the air, crouching at an ATM to get cash...

You gotta wonder....


Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Tossing Chunks...

It only took the four of us about three hours to de-ice and chip away the driveway and front steps this morning. We were going to let nature take its course and have things melt away. After all, it was only 2 or 3 inches of snow, with about 1/4 inch of ice on top. Nothing that a couple of days of 40 degree weather couldn't melt for us. Then we found out that the temp is dropping to near 0 degrees F tonight.

SOooo... with that in mind, and because none of us really and truly are in to ice sculptures, we joined the cul-de-sac shoveling party and hacked it all away. Thankfully, Beloved Bearded Spouse had seen to the pre-storm priming of the snowblower. It was slow going, but the worst of the driveway was cleared courtesy of some fossil fuel, two-cycle engine and brute force dragging the thing back and forth... We discovered a new meaning for the phrase "tossing chunks" (as in ice!) The sky was blue while we shoveled, and breeze was not too bad. By the time it was done, it was past lunch time and we are all feeling tired and a wee bit stiff tonight. Tomorrow... ouch. I would like to join the groundhog and sleep until spring.

Profound theological thoughts with this? Nope. I'm just grateful for a machine that tosses chunks, my polar fleece socks, a lap cat and the power staying on tonight...

From our home to yours...

Monday, February 12, 2007

Hmmm file...

I'm not blaming any relationship mistakes I've made on my parents... in fact, I am grateful for the secure start in life they gave me. But I really liked this article in the Washington Post this morning. Among other things, it reminded me that soothing a crying infant instead of letting them "cry it out" is a good thing. Which gives me hope that perhaps we are over the era of Dr. Spock and Gary Ezzo*, and are moving into an era of healthier parenting. *See footnote!

The study closely tracked 78 people over a quarter-century, starting when they were babies. Mothers and infants were brought into a laboratory, and the mothers were asked to leave briefly. The infants became upset, of course, but the psychologists were interested in what happened when the mothers returned. Some infants clung tightly to their mothers and sought comfort. In a little while, they calmed down. But others refused to calm down even after lengthy soothing. And some babies refused to turn to their mothers for comfort at all.

Simpson said research has shown that secure infants turn to their parents when they are upset: "The kid learns, 'I can count on my parents to calm me down.' They learn to turn to others. Whereas insecure kids learn that my parent is either rejecting or they learn my parent is neglectful. Or 'I have to protest to get attention.' "
Why is this so hard to accept? Why do we want to treat infants like children, and children like young adults? Why do we wonder about "kids today" who don't trust their parents? It seems like a no-brainer to me...

"We find if you are insecure at age 1, that predicts being rated as being less socially competent than your peers during grades one-two-three, which predicts less reliance on your best same-sex friend when you are upset at 16, which then predicts more negative emotion in a romantic relationship at age 21 to 23," Simpson said.

Does this mean all insecure infants are doomed to a lifetime of unhappiness? Simpson argued otherwise. Human destiny is not so circumscribed, he said. What the study showed is how each developmental step influences the next, positively or negatively. While it is certainly best to be started in the right direction, people can always learn the skills needed for successful relationships.

That is what parenting is all about, isn't it? Giving our kids the basis to live, started in the right direction, towards building successful relationships?

"Contrary to the popular American myth that people left to fend for themselves become strong and independent, the psychological research seems to show exactly the opposite is true: It is the people who are confident enough to reach out to others for help -- and to whom help is given -- who become truly capable of independence...

"It is a lot easier for people to take risks and accept challenges when they know someone is available to help them and comfort them if something goes wrong," Feeney said. "The most secure individuals are able to turn to other people for support."

Wait, wait... where have I heard that before???

The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.

Now the body is not made up of one part but of many.

Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.
I Corinthians 12: 12-14, 27

Just makes me wanna go Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmm....


(*NOTE: If you have never heard of Gary Ezzo, or if their program "Growing Kids God's Way" has never hit your church, be grateful! A site that explains the many problematic issues with Ezzo's parenting philosophy is here. In the interests of being fair, you can find his self-promotions are here and here.)

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Good Papers...

The secret of a good sermon is to have a good beginning and a good ending; and to have the two as close together as possible.
-- George Burns

SOOOO... how come the secret of a good paper is to have a good beginning and a good ending; and to have the two as FAR APART as possible??

I'm just askin'...


Saturday, February 10, 2007


Or lack thereof...

I don't understand the reasons why I can have DSL working fine, but have no phone service... If it's physics please don't explain it to me. I'll just chalk it up to earthly knowledge that I don't really need. Or to Verizon and their continually bad website design and phone messaging service and no way to find out whassup.

Two papers to work on, dinner for the fam and maybe, just MAYBE I will get to play tomorrow if I work hard today.

It doesn't stop me from wondering if just maybe there's a deep philosophical meaning in phone and DSL connectivity and connections with God... but I can't go there...


back to work...

Friday, February 09, 2007

Friday Five: American Idol Edition

Songbird of RevGalBlogPals writes:

Yes, it's true. I've been watching Season Six of American Idol with my daughter, our first time dipping into this particular well of pop culture. In the spirit of believing you can do anything, as the auditioners so clearly do, please fill in the following five blanks.

1) If I could sing like anyone, it would be ________.
This is a hard one. I've been told I sound like Stevie Nix (formerly of Fleetwood Mac fame, if you are old enough to remember...) Personally, I'd rather sing like Sarah McLachlan ("In the Arms of an Angel"). But hey, since we're going for all-out fantasy here, let's just be brave and say Denyce Graves!

2) I would love to sing the song _________________.

Going with my last fantasy and if I were singing like Denyce, I'll say "L'amour est un oiseau rebelle " from Carmen. But just for fun, I'd love to sing "Lovin' You" like Minnie Riperton!

3) It would be really cool to sing at ____________.
Well, let's go all out. Sing in the warm-up band for the Stones next concert tour. Hey, I'd even sing back-up.

4) If I could sing a dream duet it would be with ___________.
Hands down. Bono!

5) If I could sing on a TV or radio show, it would be __________________.
Must I? Well, fame has its price... I guess I'd sing on the Grammys. Care to join me?

DOOOooo-wah.... DOOOooo-wah!


Monday, February 05, 2007

How can you mend a broken heart?

And how can you mend a broken heart?
How can you stop the rain from falling down?
How can you stop the sun from shining?
What makes the world go round?
(OK, so I'm dating myself. Yes, it's the Bee Gees.)

The words can haunt anyone who has "been there, cried that." And in the last three weeks, I have listened to stories of people with heartbreaks beyond anything I have ever experienced. And I've experienced plenty. (Thanks.)

The Psalmist wrote:
Why am I discouraged? Why am I restless? I trust You! And I will praise You again because You help me, and You are my God. [Psalm 42:5]

As I listen to people talk, I am struck by all of the ways that we humans try to "fix" things. I mean, think about it...

...political junkies
(Did I leave anything out?)

As if we can change things on our own? I don't think so.
As if I can "fix" anything by my advice? That would be a big uh----nope.

I get a little weary of "happy plastic people" dispensing "happy plastic steeple" advice. I think the only plastic church I'd like to see is this one! There, the pasted-on, happy-all-the-time-smiles would be 'natural'. (I mean, think about it... have you ever seen a frowning Lego?)

From where I sit, I can only see that this heartache is not unusual, in fact, it is something that we all seem to have to suffer through. Especially when the heartache is because of (quite honestly) my own dumb decisions, there's not much left to do but get through it. (I'm not saying that everyone else makes the same kind of "dumb decisions" I do -- sometime they are victims!)

So what can I do??
Dispense hugs freely...
And pray much...
And listen more than talk...
And wait and watch God work as we come out on the other side...

From our home to yours...


My Aliases

My Aliases

Your movie star name: Peanut Butter Pretzels Jay

Your fashion designer name is Deborah Munich

Your socialite name is Debbie Grace D.C.

Your fly girl / guy name is D Vau

Your detective name is Cat North High

Your barfly name is Peanut Butter Pretzels Hard Cider

Your soap opera name is Grace Torrence

Your rock star name is Peanut M&Ms Train

Your Star Wars name is Debcly Vauken

Your punk rock band name is The Happy Spoon

Check out your aliases at The Amazing Meganame Generator

I particularly like my "Star Wars" name and my "punk rock band name"...

OK, back to work....

"Debcly Vauken"

Sunday, February 04, 2007

The Teacup

There was a couple who used to go England to shop in a beautiful antique store. This trip was to celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary. They both liked antiques and pottery, and especially tea-cups. Spotting an exceptional cup, they asked to see it because they had never seen one quite so beautiful. As the lady handed it to them,
suddenly the tea-cup spoke.

You don't understand, it said, I have not always been a tea-cup. There was a time when I was just a lump of red clay. My master took me and rolled me pounded and patted me over and over and I yelled out, "Don't do that. I don't like it! Let me alone!"

But he only smiled, and gently said;
"Not yet!!"

Then, WHAM! I was placed on a spinning wheel and suddenly I was spun around and around and around. "Stop it ! I'm getting so dizzy! I'm going to be sick!" I screamed.

But the Master only nodded and said quietly, "Not yet."

He spun me and poked and prodded and bent me out of shape to suit himself and then He put me in the oven. I never felt such heat. I yelled and knocked and pounded at the door. "Help! Get me out of here!"

I could see Him through the opening and I could read His lips as He shook his head from side to side, "Not yet."

When I thought I couldn't bear it another minute, the door opened. He carefully took me out and put me on the shelf, and I began to cool. Oh, that felt so good! "Ah, this is much better," I thought. But, after I cooled he picked me up and he brushed and painted me all over. The fumes were horrible. I thought I would ga
g. "Oh, please; Stop it, Stop it!!" I cried.

He only shook his head and said,
"Not yet!"

Then suddenly he put me back in to the oven. Only it was not like the first one. This was twice as hot and I just knew I would suffocate. I begged. I pleaded. I screamed. I cried. I was convinced I would never make it. I was ready to give up. Just then the door opened and he took me out and again placed me on the shelf, where I cooled and waited...

...and waited, wondering, "What's he going to do to me next?"

An hour later he handed me a mirror and said,
"Look at yourself." And I did. I said, "That's not me; that couldn't be me. It's beautiful. I'm beautiful!"

Quietly He spoke: "I want you to remember, then," He said. "I know it hurt to be rolled and pounded and patted, but had I just left you alone, you'd have dried up. I know it made you dizzy to spin around on the wheel, but if I had stopped, you would have crumbled. I know it hurt and it was hot and disagreeable in the oven, but if I hadn't put you there, you would have cracked. I know the fumes were bad when I brushed and painted you all over, but if I hadn't done that, you never would have hardened. You would not have had any color in your life. If I hadn't put you back in that second oven, you wouldn't have survived for long because the hardness would not have held. Now you are a finished product. Now you are what I had in mind when I first began with you."

The moral of this story is this:
God knows what He's doing for each of us. He is the Potter, and we are His
clay. He will mold us and make us, and expose us to just enough pressures of just the right kinds that we may be made into a flawless piece of work to fulfill His good, pleasing and perfect will. So when life seems hard, and you are being pounded and patted and pushed almost beyond endurance; when your world seems to be spinning out of control; when you feel like you are in a fiery furnace of trials; when life seems to "stink", try this....

Brew a cup of your favorite tea in your nicest tea cup, sit down and think on this story and then...
...have a little talk with the Potter.

Friday, February 02, 2007

...And sometimes you "LET 'ER RIP!"

Yes, sometimes you just have to LET 'ER RIP! I mean, why stop living just because things have changed???

Change is life. Change is good. Too much change at once, now THAT'S the problem... so without further ado, here is...

The RevGals Friday Five:
Friday Five: ch- ch- ch- ch- changes

Many of the RevGals using Blogger are experiencing some chaos this week as they move from Old Blogger to New Blogger. (Is that anything like New Coke?) Change is a given in life, yet it's not easy for any of us. So strap on your seat belts and let's talk about it:

1. Share, if you wish, the biggest change you experienced this past year.
Easy. For some reason (or possibly, a lack of reason,) I went back to seminary after 25 years.

2. Talk about a time you changed your mind about something, important or not.
Oh it's always the big decisions that get me. Paper or plastic? Caffeinated or decaffeinated? Leaded or unleaded? Beetle or Rabbit? White or blush? Red or green?

3. Bishop John Shelby Spong wrote a controversial book called "Why Christianity Must Change or Die." Setting aside his ideas--what kind of changes would you like to see in the Church?
Myron Augsburger expressed it very nicely: that people will be used in the church according to their gifts, not their genes.

4. Have you changed your hairstyle/hair color in the last five years? If so, how many times?
Nope. It's pretty much the same. Short-ish, layered and wash-and-wear. The only real change is those, uh, "natural variants" in hair color. (And I don't mean summer-induced blonde streaks!)

5. What WERE they thinking with that New Coke thing?
Who knows? WERE they thinking? I mean - the big hair, leggings, Madonna, Michael Jackson, Max Headroom, Moonwalking, "popped" Izod collars... wait! wait! that sounds like some of the high school stuff today! Whoda thunk that leggings would be back? I mean... eeeww...

My bonus question: A song with CHANGE in the title?
Current favorite - John Mayer's "Waiting for the World to Change" (We're doing it on Sunday!)

Change ain't all bad - look at one result - I have been blessed with the camaraderie and encouragement of the REVGALS!

From our home to yours...

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Sometimes you just don't give a rip...

Sometimes, you just don't give a rip...
SO... I am going to bed.

Whining all the way...