Friday, August 31, 2007

Friday Five: Seasons Change

ReverendMother from RevGalBlogPals writes...

It's Labor Day weekend here in the United States, also known as Summer's Last Hurrah. So let's say goodbye to summer and hello to the autumn.
1. Share a highlight from this summer. (If you please, don't just say "our vacation to the Canadian Rockies." Give us a little detail or image. Help us live vicariously through you!)
Break out the bathing suits and the grapes, and join me in the jacuzzi as we feast our eyes on the German Alps... (breathe in... breathe out...)

Sing, O heavens, for the LORD has done it; shout, O depths of the earth; break forth into singing, O mountains, forest, and every tree in it! For the LORD has redeemed Jacob, and will be glorified in Israel. [Isaiah 44:23]
2. Are you glad to see this summer end? Why or why not?
Yes. And no. Yes... because I am excited about my internship and being that much closer to being DONE in May 2009! No... because just when the weather is getting NICE, I am stuck inside studying... and writing... and reading...

3. Name one or two things you're looking forward to this fall.
Ohio State Football. Co-leading a mission trip to Poitiers, France.

4. Do you have any special preparations or activities to mark the transition from one season to another? (Cleaning of house, putting away summer clothes, one last trip to the beach)

Yes... For the last six years, I have taken our daughters down to the beach in South Carolina for a last, relaxing week before the summer crazies start up. It helps mark an 'end' to the summer, and gives us time to refresh the soul a little. Eventually, we will put away the tank tops and shorts and go find sweaters. But when it's 90 degrees for the first few weeks of school, the wardrobe swap isn't necessary! Yet.

5. I'll know that fall is really here when...
...Christmas commercials start up in October!
...our gutters send a river through our basement.
...I stop wheezing and start sneezing.
...Ohio State football starts!!! (O-H!)


Thursday, August 30, 2007

Questions, questions...

Margaret Feinberg has been blogging on issues near and dear to my heart... and they were re-posted over at Emerging Women.

As a woman in seminary and fully engaged in pursuing God's call to vocational ministry, I decided to run with the conversation...

From Margaret...

Old school: Women wrestling with the issue of whether they should be in ministy.

New school: Women are in ministry and wondering how to do it best.

When I google "Women in ministry" 97% of the articles (yes, that's super scientific :) are on whether or not women should be in ministry. But when I talk to women who are in ministry, that's not what they're asking about. They want to know:
Now - her questions...

-I'm a single woman in ministry--how do I draw boundaries so my work doesn't become my life?
Get a life... a hobby. Seriously! What is it that you like to do besides "ministry"?? -- go and do that. It is especially good if you find something that lets you be with real people... people outside of your church. Rock climbing. Pot throwing. Ballroom dancing. Fencing. Painting. Quilting. Javelin-throwing. It should be something that energizes you, and is a frequent place to "have" to be.

-I'm one of the few women on staff and sometimes it seems the males don't know how to respond to me. They'll go to lunch but I'm not invited. At times, I feel left out for being a woman, how do I handle it?
Hmmmm... well. Is it a working lunch? Are they doing planning sessions that you need to be in on? Or, are they just going to let loose some testosterone? If it is the latter, smile and make your own plans. If it is the former, talk to your boss and gently tell him that when they "talk shop" that is part of your work and don't include you, it feels like you are not respected for your role in the church's mission. I faced this at "Church of the Holy and Totally Coolness" when I was on staff there. In my case, my boss told me I was "over-reacting" and then later would wonder why I didn't know that I was tasked with this assignment or that. Uh. Yeah. They "decided" it at their dude meetings. Go figure. I am not faced with that at the church where I am interning currently, and I am grateful!

-Where can I connect with other women who are assuming similar roles in their churches?
Professional groups like Christians for Biblical Equality... their seminars, conferences and networking groups are a great source of encouragement to me. They are not fashion consultants (i.e. "should I wear heels or flats with my ecclesiastical robes?" puhleez) but deal with ministry and theological questions with research, dialogue and determination.

-Where do I find a Godly woman who can mentor me, encourage me and hold me accountable?
Start with your seminary or college... ask a woman professor you admire for a recommendation. Make sure she knows you would like a woman working in vocational ministry... not a pastor's wife. (I'm not dissing pastor's wives here so don't throw tomatoes... because I do know some amazing "Mrs. Rev's." It is just a different role in the church!) If you are in the Mid-Atlantic region, get in touch with me... and I will pass along any names I have gathered. :)

-Why does some of the stiffest opposition for doing what I do (whether it's leading small groups, the worship team et) come from other women rather than men?
Because we can be such cats? Estrogen wars? Because they have been told for a long time that women didn't "do" x or y? I am not sure. But I do know that I've experienced it as well. I rely on friends who are truly there for me, and my mentors to give me honest and clear feedback. I also take criticisms I get to people I trust and say, "I am getting some pushback from ________ on this issue. Can we talk about it?"

-Though the senior pastor and board supports me with this leadership role, there are some on staff who aren't as supportive. They won't come out and say it--but it shows up in their comments and attitudes. How can I win their hearts and represent Jesus well in the doors as I respond to the calling on my life?
If the senior pastor is truly your advocate and your boss, then this again is something I would take to him. You don't have to mention names. He probably already knows. But, when you combine it with "the lunch" issue, it is hard to know what is going on under the surface. You probably already know to be professional, handle your part of the teamwork, etc. Some people are insecure -- male or female -- and will act out accordingly.

And, to be brutally honest? This kind of "I-don't-know-if-people-with-ovaries-should-be-pastors-attitude" is among the reasons why my husband and I left "The Church of We are Always Right." We are raising two daughters to be godly women, you see, and it was pretty clear what kind of ministry and support the three of us would get. (Um. That would be "none.") I hope you don't have to go there because it sounds like you love what you are doing... when you can do it.

So what do you think are some of the "real issues" of women in ministry?
- Like our male counterparts, keeping a balance between our personal lives and our professional lives.
- Getting caught up in "the work week" vs. God's work.
- Not feeding our Soul's relationship -- stopping for refreshment and prayer with our Abba, resting at the feet of Jesus, being renewed by the Holy Spirit. Keep your spiritual tank full!
- Not clarifying what is a REQUIRED church event vs. what is an OPTIONAL event; not being clear on what your work week should include. No, you may not have kids with sports commitments or birthday parties... but you still should be able to have a 'life' -- AND a day off.
- Guilt, discouragement, worry, exhaustion...
- Forgetting that we don't have to please everyone, only God. People are going to disagree, disaprove, and try to disenchant you. That's a gender-free reality.
- Being blamed for all that is wrong with the church... (if you don't believe me, visit here and here. (That's just for starters. If you need to get really depressed, just Google "women preachers" --- or better yet, DON'T!)
- Finding encouragement from folks like Singing Owl, Rev. Abi, Reverend Mommy and other
RevGals who are blogging down the path beside and ahead of me... Just don't go it alone!

A final thought...
God does not call all women to vocational ministry. (He does not call all men either!) Since you are set apart for this, there is going to be a sense of 'aloneness' in the Call -- realizing it is for you and YOU alone. No one else has been tasked to do what God is asking you to do. But you showed up to do it!

Sara Groves wrote a song called "Just Showed Up (For My Own Life)" which I commend to you...

I'm going to live my life inspired
Look for the holy in the common place
Open the windows and feel all that's honest
and real until I'm truly amazed

I'm going to feel all my emotions
I'm going to look you in the eyes
I'm going to listen and hear until it's finally clear
and it changes our lives

There are so many ways to hide
There are so many ways not to feel
There are so many ways to deny what is real

And I just showed up for my own life
And I'm standing here taking it in and it sure looks bright

Bloom where you are planted...
Watch God do the work!

Pressing on...


Wednesday, August 29, 2007

I'm a little peahen...

Christine of Abbey of the Arts has offered a little poetry challenge this week. I am going to take her up on it!

Here's her challenge:

I had such fun with my first Invitation to Poetry posted a couple of weeks ago and loved reading all of your contributions so here is another invitation for you, my wonderful readers, to add your own words to the image below. This is a simple collage I made in about five minutes during a design elements class I took while at the art retreat, but something about it really speaks to me — the tension between the open cage and the open feathers speak to me of the promise of freedom. What does the image evoke for you?

Freed from the cage that bound me
Freed from the cramped quarters
the rules
the waiting...
Allowed to wander
to seek the path You designed...
My life a patchwork of seeming sameness...
block here.
block there.
day in.
day out.

"Peahens don't strut," you say.
"They don't have the need to.
It wouldn't be natural.
So, just get used to that cage
and be happy."

Wait - God unlocks the door! I spread my wings!
I show my stuff!
And wonder why I didn't see
for all those years
that I was ready to fly...


Monday, August 27, 2007


Our kids started back to school today. They got out the door on time to make the bus (at least I think so... the schools haven't called us to tell us they are truant!) I remembered to go to the schools and drop off their "controlled medications" (aka Tylenol!) to the Health Room.

In my inbox this morning was the annual list from Beloit College on the class of 2011 (the present crop of 18 year olds.) They listed 70 things... I've culled out the ones that struck me. (The complete list is here.)

Most of the students entering College this fall, members of the Class of 2011, were born in 1989. For them, Alvin Ailey, Andrei Sakharov, Huey Newton, Emperor Hirohito, Ted Bundy, Abbie Hoffman, and Don the Beachcomber have always been dead.

#1. What Berlin wall? No, it never existed. But they know about it.

#3. Rush Limbaugh and the “Dittoheads” have always been lambasting liberals. hmmm... no comment.

#4. They never “rolled down” a car window. I hadn't thought about that one!

#7. They have grown up with bottled water. Yeah. Well, since the school drinking fountains are shut down because of lead in the water, I don't mind sending bottled water to school!

#11. Rap music has always been mainstream. Um... not in my river. But OK.

#35. Stadiums, rock tours and sporting events have always had corporate names. Huh. Yeah. Consider this: "Value City Arena at the Jerome Schottenstein Center" on the campus of Ohio State.

#64. Chavez has nothing to do with iceberg lettuce and everything to do with oil. Funny one.

#68. Burma has always been Myanmar. And my spell-checker STILL suggests I spell it "Mylar."
Great commentary on culture and the future of the church...


Prayer Synchroblog

Our Father in heaven,
Reveal who you are.
Set the world right;
Do what’s best— as above, so below.
Keep us alive with three square meals.
Keep us forgiven with you and forgiving others.
Keep us safe from ourselves and the Devil.
You’re in charge!
You can do anything you want!
You’re ablaze in beauty!
Yes. Yes. Yes.

This is my prayer today.
[Matthew 6:12-13, The Message]

Lyn at Emerging Women announced a Synchroblog for today... here's the topic:
The question for the synchroblog is "How Do You Pray?" The idea can be to discuss what your prayer life does or doesn't look like now compared to how it used to be. How do you view prayer? What part does it take place in your spiritual life right now and so on, you get the gist!
I'm in a Spiritual Formation class right now, interning, and taking a class on discipleship. This should be a no-brainer.

DREAM GOAL: A regular, heart-felt, authentic prayer life. A wall of strength and reinforcement of my faith and my emotional condition. A gentle yet gritty reality of God's protection and love in my life. Not perfect, at least not this side of heaven. Yet, something with a solid foundation. Substance. And beautiful.

REALITY: "Um... Uh... God? Yeah. I opened up my prayer journal to write and then the cat horked. I'm sorry. I meant to pray after I cleaned that up and the phone rang and then I remembered I hadn't changed over the laundry load from last week and the clothes are mildewed. SO I have washed them again. Oh... I'm babbling. Forgive me. I want to listen to You. I will do this right first thing tomorrow... Amen."

PLAN: Sit down right after the house is quiet (everyone is gone to work/school) and read/write/pray. Before anything else. God first.

Life hits. "I forgot my lunch." "The bus never came." "Can you stop and pick up a prescription?" I think I will get back to it. I rarely do.

MID-COURSE CORRECTION: God first. Prayer first. Period. Set the timer. Do it.

Sam's Club opens at 10 a.m. and I need to be gone BEFORE the lines are so long. Or it's a doctor's appointment. Or the car has to go in for an oil change. Now. Or someone called with a family crisis and needs prayer and can I visit their Aunt Susie in the hospital? And I just remembered I promised a double-batch of brownies for the pit orchestra rehearsal at the high school. The list is ridiculous and endless.

REVISED PLAN: A RevGal mentioned Pray-As-You-Go which has download-able podcasts for the work week. I love them. No it's not always "my" kind of music. That's not the point. Many times as I listen, I hear something new and wonderful from God that I had been wrestling with for a while. Or there's just a quieting. A bit of perspective. The music, Scripture reading, and meditation quiet my heart, focus my mind, encourage my soul. Between this and using the Fellowship of St. James lectionary readings, I believe I will have more success.

Papers. Projects. Assignments. Seminaria Fertilizia abounds! "Deeply reflect" on this spiritual concept or that for a formation class. "Interact with your fellow students" in 250-300 words on this specific wondrous philosophical question that will only confound the wise. And, I, being simple, totally wipe out my brain.

I have struggled with this over the past year. I don't want to make my prayer life another exercise. And yet it is an "exercise" of my discipline. My commitment. My desire to talk with the Savior.

I've switched versions of the Bible (using The Message for devotional reading) and I don't try to do ALL of the St. James readings. I am working on consistency with PAYG. I'm achieving more success. But it is far from perfect...

And here I sit, blogging. And it is time to pray.

Dang... This being human thing sometimes really sucketh.


Friday, August 24, 2007

A cure for what ails ya...

I was buying shampoo for one of our daughters... and had an absolute gigglefest over this one. I HAD to buy it (good thing it was on sale) because I'm thinkin' there's a sermon illustration in there somewhere...

A Cultural Friday Five

Sally from RevGals writes:

I have spent the week at Summer School studying the Gospel and Western culture, we have looked at art, literature, music, film and popular culture in their myriad expressions. With that in mind I bring you the cultural Friday 5.
Name one of each of these which have helped/challenged you on your spiritual journey.

1. Book
A book? ONE book? Isn't that like asking what kind of chocolate is your favorite (and the answer is "yes"??) OK, OK, I'll play...

Because of its impact on my worldview and the way that Americans are perceived, particularly in the Middle East, I would have to say "Beirut Diary" by Sis Levin.

2. Piece of music
Geesh. This is as hard or harder as "A Book" for a musician! Do I go back to learning to play Bach's "Inventions"? The first dribbles of Christian music in the 70s? Disco? Country? The Who? Bono? Paul McCartney? Celtic harp? Mozart quintets? Ohio State University Marching Band? I am flummoxed. They are all a mishmash in my head and I really and truly can NOT pick one!

3. Work of art
Michaelangelo's "Pieta" moves me every time.

4. Film
You may wonder about me, but probably "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy." I think there are lot of people who view Christ-followers as kin to those who await "the Coming of the Great White Handkerchief."

5. Unusual engagement with popular culture
I had to do a major mind shift when I began living and working outside Washington, DC - a place that is so self-absorbed and gives itself such self-importance... and has done a lot to increase my awareness of the errors (and pride) of BOTH sides of the political spectrum. It's why we subscribe to the two local newspapers. (the TRUTH is somewhere in the middle...) ...and why I have been encouraged by the writing I find at places like Third Way Cafe' and The Ooze.

Bonus: Is engagement essential to your Christian faith, how and why?
How could it not be essential? If we wrap our minds in spiritual bubblewrap and never stop to consider WHO is speaking in our cultures, WHAT they consider important and WHY their worldview does not include God, we will be as ineffectual as "paste up" artist at a newspaper...

Does it make the changes in society "right" or "wrong"? Not necessarily. (Con
sider civil rights and [ahem] women pastors...) But if you do not understand where your contemporaries are, what they listen to and think about, how can you begin to speak to their spiritual needs? There are no "good old days" and it's time we look at where we ARE and how GOD would work in us and through us. Thankfully, most believers are not as isolated and out-of-touch as people who would order "Armor of God PJs" for their kids...

Personally, I know that if I am not allowing God to work in me, to bring about formation in my being, then I am as bad or worse off as my contemporaries who have taken God out of the picture completely...



Oh... P.S. I don't know why I can't have one of the cool Soldier helmets instead of a "Maid Marion" get up. And where's my sword?? A real one. With a nice sharp edge. I'm just sayin...

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Motherhood ain't for wimps...

Every now and then, I read someone else's blog or writing and have a good, hard, laugh-until-you-cry giggle session.

This afternoon was one of them.

First you need to read this eBay listing... originally listed here. (If the link doesn't work, give me your email in the comments... I have saved the text!!!)

Then you need to visit her blog.

A woman after my own heart...



It was not the way I planned it... on our way home, an emergency sign broadcast this message: "I-95 closed at Exit 15. Use alternate routes."

Close an Interstate highway? What's up with that?

But I am a seasoned traveler on this section of I-95. We have to travel it every time we go to the beach... I love getting there. I hate driving it!

I know the best places to stop and refuel, where there's clean bathrooms (usually!) and what time of day to try and get through the Richmond-DC corridor without too much stress. I had my stops planned out, and getting off at the next exit was NOT in the plan. But I did it anyway, because I knew to keep traveling meant that I would be at the mercy of the detour decreed by the NC Highway Department, instead of planning my own route.

After refueling, getting a quick snack, consulting my maps (AND buying some fresh peaches!) we headed off on a short backroads tour of the South Carolina - North Carolina border. I didn't know WHY I was doing this detour. I just did it.

We saw lovely small towns. A cypress swamp with egrets and (I think) alligators. Farmland. Closed mills and the suffering of the infrastructure of the town (bad roads, abandoned buildings.) Zigging and zagging, we finally headed back towards I-95, only to discover one of the reasons the road was closed - a wild fire! By this morning, over 800 acres had burned and the visibility on I-95 and Route 74 was so bad that there were several fatal accidents...

But I didn't know any of that at the time. I decided to roll with it and got a little visual reminder of why it's good to "obey the signs" God (or the highway authority) provides...

I'm just thinking on that one today as I travel...


Monday, August 20, 2007

slack time...

This week we're at the beach... and it has been wonderful. No real time schedule to keep. Maybe three meals a day, and maybe five. Maybe we eat green vegetables, and maybe we just enjoy the fresh corn, shrimp, stone crab and tuna steaks!!! (Yeah. I think I will go with the corn and seafood!)

It's slack time... In nautical terms, that's the time in between the changes of the tides... The waves are smaller, the current is relaxed, and your footing is very secure. In those moments, the bottom is clearest because there's less sediment being kicked up. You can see things you would normally miss as they navigate by you in the water.

Then, quickly and almost without warning, the tide turns. The waves pick up and things start getting tossed about. If you aren't careful, you are either left high and dry, or you get overrun by the advancing waves. Those moments have their excitement, to be sure. But it's kinda nice to be in the slack water, even just for a few precious hours!

My semester starts up this week. Classes and my internship begin Wednesday. I have a whole bunch of niggling fears but have been working on releasing them, not carrying them around like so many dead fish! The kids start back to school next Monday ("MOommmm!!! Don't REMIND us!") and that means all of their associated activities with school as well. All too soon it'll be... "SURF'S UP!!!"

I'm taking a deep breath.
Drinking in the quiet.
Soaking up the slack time...
Remembering and treasuring the places we have seen God this week...

And as I do, a verse of an old hymn comes to mind...
O, how great Thy loving kindness,
Vaster, broader than the sea!
O, how marvelous Thy goodness,
Lavished all on me!
Yes, I rest in Thee, Belovèd,
Know what wealth of grace is Thine,
Know Thy certainty of promise,
And have made it mine.
["Jesus, I am Resting, Resting" Words: Jean Pigott, 1876. Music: James Mountain, 1876]

Can't beat that...


Saturday, August 18, 2007

Friday Five (Saturday Edition): Word Association, Redux

This one is patterned off an
old Friday Five
written by Songbird, our Friday Five Creator
Emerita:Below you will find five words. Tell us the first thing you think of on
reading each one. Your response might be simply another word, or it might be a
sentence, a poem or a story.

1. vineyard

I'm a part of the crop He is harvesting. I'm doing my best not to dry on the vine!

2. root

It's easy to see roots as a positive thing and something that keeps you strong and fruitful. Sometimes they can be negative -- not allowing yourself to be transplanted... being pot-bound... needing weeding out... I want optimal root growth!

3. rescue

There was a time in my life that I needed to be brought in out of the cold and saved from my environment. Thank God He did just that!

4. perseverance

Pursuing my call has meant:

Seminary. On-line. Female called to the pastorate. Married with children... that about sums it up.

5. divided

Reading my email and being on vacation!!! Silly woman.


Tuesday, August 14, 2007

There's nothing left...

I'm still thinking through my recent holiday in Germany and Austria. We visited some lovely places and some very thought-provoking ones, and there are images and memories that keep coming back to me. I know I have blogged about my new "happy place" and I am so grateful for that picture of God's peace and love in my mind.

But there were others places during our tour that affected me as well.

One of the most memorable moments was when we visited the Bunkeranlagen that was built by Hitler under the mountains near the lovely city of Berchtesgaden, in Bavaria. It's not talked about much and you don't find it advertised in the tourist information centers. This I understand. Who wants to invite foreign tourists to America to see places of slavery and prejudice in our history? Or visit the places were crosses were burned during the civil rights era?

This bunker was built under the commandeered hotel Zum Türken, on the mountains between Salzberg and Berchtesgaden. The original owners were able to buy back their property after the war had ended (in ruins) and after extensive repairs and renovations, reopened their hotel and have allowed tours of the site. Tour buses don't stop there because of the narrow corridors, so if you ever go visit, you can count on it not being filled with tourists.

We were not allowed to take pictures inside the bunker. (You can see pictures of it here.) The bunker was a steep, narrow, musty set of halls and steps. We descended to 50 feet below the surface. Even though it was 90 degrees up top, it was a chilly and damp 50 degrees below. There were several tunnels to homes and chateaus of the Nazi leadership. The places were the plaster had been vandalized and opened up, you could see the amazing set of reinforced steel bars inside the walls. All of it built by forced labor.

I can't explain my reaction to it exactly, but there was a truly "evil" presence echoing in that place. I'm not a "woo-woo" person and I don't go looking for auras or spirits. But the spirit of oppression still was present in that place. It took several minutes in the hot sunshine afterwards to erase the chill.

Our guide showed us a little-known spot near the bunker where Hitler's house once stood, (which was not marked for obvious reasons.) All that is left is grass, trees and birdsong. This picture shows the beauty of the spot. The local government has taken away all debris and evidence of the house's footprint. It seemed to me most appropriate that a place where evil was conceived and planned could be so removed and destroyed from existence.

My reading in Isaiah 40 later that day was a reminder of the supremacy of... GOD. And God alone...

Do you not know? Do you not hear?
Has it not been told you from the beginning?
Have you not understood from the foundations of the earth?
It is He who sits above the circle of the earth,
and its inhabitants are like grasshoppers;
Who stretches out the heavens like a curtain,
and spreads them like a tent to dwell in;
Who brings princes to nothing,
and makes the rulers of the earth as emptiness.

Scarcely are they planted, scarcely sown,
scarcely has their stem taken root in the earth,
when He blows on them, and they wither,
and the tempest carries them off like stubble.

To whom then will you compare me,
that I should be like him? says the Holy One.
Lift up your eyes on high and see:
Who created these?
He who brings out their host by number,
calling them all by name,
by the greatness of His might,
and because He is strong in power
not one is missing.

[Isaiah 40:21-26]

It could not have been clearer to me. Those who think they are invincible will surely find out they are not. Those who are convinced their war is "right" will find themselves humbled and erased from the face of the earth.

He who has ears, let him hear..." Jesus [Matthew 13:43]

I have been pondering this ever since...


Monday, August 13, 2007

Feeling a little better...

OK, so I look like the Donald. (The other Donald.) I do have a sense of humor... and someone (I think in an attempt to make me feel better) emailed me this information. It was apparently gleaned from this site...

Etymology: Deborah V_____

Origin: Hebrew
Meaning: Bee, To Speak Kind Words

Top 5 facts:

1. How well envoweled is Deborah V______? 38% of the letters are vowels. Of one million first and last names we looked at, 38.4% have a higher vowel make-up. This means you are well envoweled.
2. Backwards, it is Harobed ______v... nice ring to it, huh?
3. In Pig Latin, it is Eborahday _____vay.
4. In ASCII binary it is...
01000100 01100101 01100010 01101111 01110010 01100001 01101000 00100000 01010110 01100001 01110101 01100111 01101000 01101110
5. People with this first name are probably: Female. So, you are constantly overcharged for beauty products.

3 things you didn't know:

1. What is your power animal? Your personal power animal is the Loch Ness Monster.

2. Your 'Numerology' number is 9. If it wasn't bulls**t, it would mean that you are multi-talented, compassionate, and impartial. A humanitarian, you seek opportunities to help others.

3. According to the US Census Bureau, 0.494% of US residents have the first name 'Deborah' and 0.036% have the surname 'V______'. The US has around 300 million residents, so we guesstimate there are 534 'Deborah V______'s.


Wow. I am strangely comforted by all of these little known bits of information!!


I am NOT flattered

I had thought it was a flattering picture. And I thought having longer hair was a better choice. Apparently... silly me... it makes me look like Donald Rumsfeld??? Ron Howard?? River Phoenix?? I don't even know who those other dudes are... which is supposed to be an honor? And I think they put Angelina Jolie in there to pacify me... honestly.



Sunday, August 12, 2007

You gotta be kidding me...

Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary has not endeared itself to women in ministry, or women in seminary, for that matter. (You can read full details about Dr. Sheri Klouda's dismissal here from someone who is a Southern Baptist.) She was not denied tenure for any reason other than being a women, because the current president of SBTS declared that only men should teach men, particularly future pastors.

OK. So they all went lock-step and booted her out. Strike another seminary off the list for affirming the Calling of God on women. I don't have to go there, and I don't have to give them my tuition dollars. (And hey - that's a statement for "Captain Obvious" because they wouldn't admit me anywho... but I digress...)

In another fit of I don't know what, the SBTS has decided that though women can not be ordained, or "teach men", they can study "homemaking." As covered in the Washington Post the seminary announced a 23 credit "concentration" in homemaking to apply towards a bachelor of arts degree in humanities. The program apparently came at the request of seminary wives and includes topics such as sewing, cooking, interior design, child development and so on.

According to Rev. Paige Patterson, the seminary's president, offering these classes was necessary in order "to establish family and gender roles as described in God's word for the home and the family."

This leads me to wonder...
- Where were their moms? Didn't they learn about these things in their homes as they grew up? Or if they are involved in a church, didn't they observe and learn from other women? (I mean, isn't that where they are suggesting that a female-type person should be learning these skills?)
- What if you are a wife and you hate to cook? Is that a sin? Are you a failure if you have ovaries and can't match your throw pillows with your curtains? (And where is all this in the Bible?)
- What if you are a woman and you don't want to get married? Are you in a state of disobedience?
- Are there no other careers for women besides wife and mother?
- If strengthening the home is the duty of both husbands AND wives, why aren't husbands taking classes in "fatherhood" or "husbandry"?
- And interior design? You gotta me kidding me!!

Breathe in... breathe out...

OK. Let me be clear. I love my husband. I truly enjoy being married, being involved with him in the work of parenting our kids, and helping make our home a place to show love and compassion to others. But it is not just "my" role or "my" job. To misquote a book, "it takes a family" to do that. A biological family. A church family. A circle of people bigger than he, she and the little wee ones... who together show what happens when the Indwelling Holy Spirit works through regular, human lives. They can show the world what God "looks" like.

One of my goals in raising my daughters is to help them have all of the tools they need to be a welcoming friend and neighbor, and someone who gives back to the world. It does not mean that they have to be a wife or mother to make our parenting a "success," by the way.

Mother Teresa said, "I am a little pencil in the hand of a writing God who is sending a love letter to the world." I think a family is one way of composing that love letter. Marriage is a biblical reflection of God in human relationships, ordained by Him in the Garden of Eden. But marriage is one of many "occupations" for women that honor God.

OK. Rant off...


Friday, August 10, 2007

Friday Five: Stress-Busting Edition

Sally from RevGals writes:
I am off to spend a few days at the beach chilling out after a hectic few weeks and before I head off for Summer School... So with that in mind this weeks questions are looking at how you deal with the stress monster!!!???
1. First, and before we start busting stress, what causes you the most stress, is it big things or the small stuff ?
It is actually the cumulation of a whole lotta "stuff" that I either know I have to do or think I have to do. And I am learning how to say "this is not my problem... this is not my problem..." and allow the person who is dropping the ball learn how to cover for themselves. It is very hard to do for a compassion-mercy-people-person, but I am improving.

2. Exercise or chocolate for stress busting ( or maybe something else) ?
There is nothing else... Peanut M&Ms do it every time. And then of course, I am stressed because I ate all that chocolate and depressed that I didn't exercise. It's not a healthy pattern.

3.What is your favorite music
to chill out to?
Pat Metheny, hands down. He's a great guitarist (jazz) and the music just floats you someplace else. I also like the stuff he did with Lyle Mays. I got introduced to his music many years ago by friends in grad. school... (Hat tip to Billy and Reed!) ...and he has remained among my favorites...

4. Where do you go to chill?
Well, from now on, when I need to think of a "happy place" when I am relaxing or meditating, I will definitely take a trip
here... but most of the time, when I am majorly stressed out, I retreat to either our patio where I have wind chimes and a water feature (in the warmer weather), or to my piano to bang out some frustrations...

5. Extrovert or introvert, do you relax at a party, or do you prefer a solitary walk?
With people I trust. Not people who pluck my last nerve. Sometimes it means getting lost in a crowd, but more often than not, it's with a group that energize me, and are folks I can give back to in some way. I usually need to be with people though, because part of my stress is caused from being isolated while studying/writing for seminary.

Bonus- share your favorite stress busting tip!
Humor! Jokes! Laughing helps immensely. My fave stress test uses the picture at the start of this post...

Diagnostic Stress Test
The dolphins (at the top of this post) appear to be nearly identical when viewed by stress-free individuals. The test is not sufficiently accurate to detect mild stress differentials, but is very accurate on individuals with higher stress-levels. Deviations in appearance between the two dolphins are indicators of potential stress-related problems and the deviations, if any, may also indicate the source of stress. Based on the results of this test, if you experience significant deviations, you may want to consider taking things a little easier...

And hey, if none of these work, I am going to go looking for Mindy's cows... they are good listeners!


Wednesday, August 08, 2007

A year done... two to go...

I have been working on my official "ADP" ("Approved Degree Plan" -- and I had to look up what ADP meant!) for seminary. The school recently changed the list of courses it would likely be offering in the next two year cycle. This means that I have to re-configure when I'm taking what. This fall's classes are set:

  • Models of Biblical Discipleship
  • Preparation of Biblical Messages
  • and interning (which is wisely called "Spiritual Formation 2" -- because if you are not being shaped in the process of serving God, there is something really really wrong with you.)

I have a lot of required courses, but the issue is actually which courses I will use to pad the pile as my electives. Some of the electives are focused in directions I don't really care to go in... and some I am not able to take because I am electing to complete an M.A. not an M.Div. This is already my second Master's Degree... I just can't see doing the "eternal student" gig at the tender age of 50-something. And no, I ain't going for a PhD or D.Min. I don't like writing or verbal fertilizer that much.

I've completed requirements in:
  • NT and OT
  • Languages
  • Basic ministerial (Church and Ministry, Church Admin.)

Definitely in the hopper:
  • CPE (next summer, I hope)
  • Pastoral Theology and Systematic Theology
  • Required amounts of Philosophy of Religion, Missiology and Church History (yerg)
That leaves about 12 hours of "eh, I guess I can take that class since it fits..."

So I humbly request any thoughts you have on "wish I woulda taken" or "don't EVEN bother" courses for your model seminarian.


Tuesday, August 07, 2007

She's on her way...

The Harpist is on her way to San Luis Potosi, Mexico to volunteer at an orphanage for the next week. She is traveling with friends from church.

Big challenge. Big changes. Big "good-bye" at the airport...

God speed, fly with Christ...


Updated Wednesday, 8/8
They arrived safely there (as did their luggage) and have a fun day planned with the kids to begin forming relationships... a waterpark and the state fair. Will post anew when I hear more...

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Shameless self-advertisement...

Last year I was "interviewed" (via email) for an article that was written for the magazine E-Quality (published by Christians for Biblical Equality.) The article was on egalitarian Christian marriages and parenting. My cyber-friend Kathy Nesper (whom I actually have met IRL) wrote it... and you can find it HERE!

Now you'll see how radical I really am. :)


Saturday, August 04, 2007

Mindy's Bavarian Friends

I introduce you to these dear folk with the understanding that they did not talk much to me. I think they just wanted to tell their dear friend Mindy "Mooooooooten Tag!" They were quite congenial, given the language barrier and all...

The Apotheke Shopper

This dear lady was walking in front the drug store. I didn't ask what she was buying. Bag balm? (Some things you don't ask, you know...) I complimented her on her lovely hide, because I liked all of the children of the world painted all over her. Her other side is the other half of the world... that photo didn't come out because it was in the shade. I apologized for botching that photo. She told me this was her better side any way.

The Embarrassed Green Teats Cow

This lovely lady was annoyed because someone decided to paint half of her udder green and the other half flesh colored. I think she understood that it was only body paint. "But really," she said. "GREEN teats? As if." I did try to reassure her that what she represented (cafe au lait and ice cream) was indeed quite an honor. But somehow, I think the green teats done her in.

The Epitome of Patience...

This dear lady was never alone. Someone was always sitting on her. I asked her if she minded. She said it was OK... and then sighed. Look at her face... doesn't she look like the epitome of patience???

SOooo there you are, Princess Mindy. Your friends send their greetings from MOooooooooonich with love to you. (Actually, these gals live in Garmisch, in Bavaria... but it's just easier and a whole lot more fun for them to say MOooooooooonich...)



We're doing this Alanis Morissette song as a special music number in the Sunday service... since I had to learn it to play keys (and sing background vocals) it has been haunting me. It's called "Excuses." Here's the chorus...

these excuses how they've served me so well
they've kept me safe. they've kept me stuck.
they've kept me locked in my own cell.
these excuses, how they're so familiar
they've kept me blocked, they've kept me small
they've kept me safe inside my shell

I have no excuse at all for waiting 25+ years to answer God's Call to the pastorate. None at all. I can try and come up with an "excuse" to hand in to the Teacher... but it's truly laughable. I might do the occasional "blame game" or joke about being "ovarian challenged"... but the bottom line was, it was easier, it was safer to stay in the familiar place, the normal place that I thought I should be in... Much MUCH harder to crack open the shell, break out of the cell.

bye-bye excuses... Jesus got ahold of my life and He won't let me go...

Just another step in the journey... (thanks for listening as I figure out the blinding glimpse of the obvious...)


Friday, August 03, 2007


I have usually tested ESFJ... but the "S" and the "J" were just about even. This time around I am "very" N...

SO I'm wondering... is this what seminary does to me??

Click to view my Personality Profile page


And I've never taken the other test but it sounds like me (I think...)


Thursday, August 02, 2007

Friday Five: Post-Pilgrimage Edition

Reverendmother of RevGalBlogPals writes:

Hello friends, I am just back from a lovely time of pilgrimage in the isle of Iona, "cradle of Scottish Christianity." It has provided much food for thought, to say the least, and so, to keep the pilgrim mojo going:

1. Have you ever been on a pilgrimage? (however you choose to define the term) Share a bit about it. If not, what's your reaction to the idea of pilgrimage?

Yup yup yup. However, it might not fit YOUR idea of a pilgrimage. Alumni Band week is coming up at Ohio State... and I won't make it there this year. (And it's too bad, too because my Beloved Bearded Spouse has never had the experience of sitting in the midst of 100,000 screaming fans clapping together...)

2. Share a place you've always wanted to visit on pilgrimage.

I'd like to go here... Victoria Falls... between the countries of Zambia and Zimbabwe.

"Many waters cannot quench love, neither can the floods drown it. If a man were to give all his wealth for love, it would be utterly scorned." Song of Solomon 8:7

3. What would you make sure to pack in your suitcase or backpack to make the pilgrimage more meaningful? Or does "stuff" just distract from the experience?

Definitely my camera and a journal... because the pictures and the words I jot down bring back the memories of the experience!

4. If you could make a pilgrimage with someone (living, dead or fictional) as your guide, who would it be? (I'm about this close to saying "Besides Jesus." Yes, we all know he was indispensable to those chaps heading to Emmaus, but it's too easy an answer.)

Hmmmmm... I think that I'd like to have Teresa of Avila, because she had a way of making the everyday spiritual experience FULL of the Presence of God. I think that would be energizing! Can you imagine what she would be able to express about the power and glory of the Falls??? Whoa.

5. Eventually the pilgrim must return home, but can you suggest any strategies for keeping that deep "mountaintop" perspective in the midst of everyday life? (don't mind me, I'll be over here taking notes.)

Write about it. Blog about it. Look at your photos and musings from living through it. Take time to remember how God spoke to you in the midst of that pilgrimage. For instance, my new "happy place" will now be in a jacuzzi surrounded by the Alps... with a glass of Chardonnay beside me... like this...

Yeah. That just about does it...


posted by Cathy...

I have to re-post this... Cathy posted it for Mindy and I have had the giggles ever since I saw it.

Kudos to Cathy for catching a great one!





The last paper is turned in... eighteen pages in three days thank-you-very-much and now it is time to do stuff like...

...unpacking the rest of the way
...finishing Harry Potter 7 (I have been so self-disciplined!)
...blogging about vacation
...and having some major chill time with the fam.

All too soon it will be time to buy books and start this nutso process all over again.

Celebrate good times, c'mon!

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Student Driver...


We have an official student driver in the house. The Harpist has her new shiny card...

But the deal with my Bearded Wonder is that I birthed them (sans drugs) so HE gets to teach them to drive...

I think it's fair. (Though I am sure that I will be involved in some of the "fun" anyway!)

But congrats, Daughter! Step One done...


Poetry challenge

Abbey of the Arts had a poetry invitation on her blog. Anyone is invited to play. I'm cross-posting here...

The photo below immediately brought up an image and a memory in my mind and out the poem rolled...

Grief sometimes comes in empty chairs
or empty stares
and sometimes whispers
“why weren’t you there?
i needed you…”

Patience sometimes builds with empty chairs
and empty stares
and sometimes we wait
for love to come say,
“thanks… for waiting
and believing in me…”

The loneliness in empty chairs
and empty stares
forgotten dates
and poignant waits
is do-able
Yes. It really is…

God’s unseen Body sits across
in that empty chair
and loves
and listens
and waits
until we stop
to hear Him

Deb Vaughn