Friday, September 28, 2007

Friday Five: ReverendMother's Swan Song Edition

ReverendMother of RevGalBlogPals writes:

Well friends, as I prepare for the birth of Bonus Baby, it's time to simplify life, step back from the Friday Five, and let one of the other capable and creative RevGals take the helm. It's been a great almost 17 months of co-hosting the F5, but it's time to say goodbye... so here's my swan song.
On Endings and Goodbyes:

1. Best ending of a movie/book/TV show
The Princess Bride (the movie).

2. Worst ending of a movie/book/TV show
The Princess Bride (the book) - except that was the whole point.

3. Tell about a memorable goodbye you've experienced.
Saying good-bye to my Dad. Watching Clyde, our most memorable reformed barn kitty, take his last breath.

4. Is it true that "all good things must come to an end"?
Nope. Heaven will last forever.

5. "Everything I ever let go of has claw marks on it." [--Anne Lamott] Discuss.
Hmmmm... Does she own cats? Or does she love life and all that is in it so much that she wants to linger and cherish every moment, every blessing?

Bonus: "It isn't over until the fat lady sings." I've never loved this expression. So propose an alternative: "It isn't over until ____________________"

It ain't over until Star Trek, M*A*S*H and Green Acres re-runs cease. [3 a.m. insomnia edition]
It ain't over until it's over. [coach cliche' edition]
It ain't over until I finish this silly paper, format it, fix all of the spelling and footnote errors, and upload it to BlackBoard! [seminarian edition]


Thursday, September 27, 2007

Thorny issues

This "loving one another" stuff is hard. And yet it is completely easy.

It involves remembering...
Remembering grace being extended to me...
Remembering that I have made so many mistakes in my past, but I finally can forgive myself for them and learn from them...
Remembering that there were no requirements or preconditions for me to be loved by Jesus, just that I am.

The thorny issues I have been watching others work through right now are difficult. They are complex. And real pain and real people are involved. It's messy. I want to solve the problems, offer solutions and be a parent, not a friend; a surgeon, not a pastor. Instead I am called to listen, to pray, to encourage. And to keep my hands off the situation and God's Hands on it...

I'm choosing to believe in the power of God to bring about change.
I'm choosing to love.

God loves you and has chosen you as His own special people. So be gentle, kind, humble, meek, and patient. Put up with each other, and forgive anyone who does you wrong, just as Christ has forgiven you. Love is more important than anything else. It is what ties everything completely together. Each one of you is part of the body of Christ, and you were chosen to live together in peace. So let the peace that comes from Christ control your thoughts. And be grateful. [Colossians 3:12-15]
Yes, there are some thorny issues in the path right now. But by showing love, and remembering His grace and mercy... the way is being smoothed for growth and healing.

And I am watching as these beautiful roses bloom above their thorns...


Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Figs and Cheese

My kids were NOT happy. Beloved Bearded Spouse and I absolutely loved them. And that is how it goes...

From the New York Times Dining and Wine section. (Though for our house tonight the title would more appropriately be "Dining with WHINES"!)

Published: September 12, 2007
Adapted from Gary Danko
10 minutes
Photo credit:


  • 8 ripe figs
  • 1/4 cup fresh, soft goat cheese
  • 1 teaspoon mixed minced fresh thyme and rosemary, or any combination of fresh herbs
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 8 fig or grape leaves, or 8 6-inch squares of aluminum foil
  • 8 rosemary-twig skewers or toothpicks
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon Banyuls or balsamic vinegar.


1. Pinch figs apart slightly from their stem ends, forming four sides surrounding a central pocket. Into this pocket, spoon a small amount of goat cheese. Sprinkle each with a tiny bit of herb mix and a pinch of salt and pepper. From the bottom up, use a leaf or sheet of foil to form a cup around each fig; skewer leaf or foil through fig so that it holds securely.

2. Grill figs, open side up, just until they brown slightly and cheese softens. Remove, sprinkle with a few drops each of soy sauce and vinegar, and serve.

Yield: 4 servings.

YUM!!!!! and even worth hearing the complaints.

(and yes... we made them each try one!)

Sunday, September 23, 2007

In a Quiet Place...

What a lovely morning! We are up for a short visit with friends in a more rural area of Maryland (Carroll County.) Even though I have studying I could do, I'm vegging and thinking.

We were up at dawn this Sunday to sing and celebrate. It was a raucous worship time. Very loud. Very joyous. Laughter. Clapping. Cheers.

The way home, everyone was subdued and the coffee we chugged at 5:30 a.m. had started to wear off. Driving over the back roads towards our friend's log house, the morning mist was settling in the hollows of the cornfields. It looked like a thin layer of quilt batting with wispy edges! I was wishing for my camera so that I could capture the beauty. Everything was still tucked in for the night.

Now the house is relatively quiet (since everyone else is napping) and I hear only the wind chimes and birds for background noise, with the dishwasher humming and the occasional car on the gravel road out front. Quiet. Peace. Rest.

The extreme contrast is what life is all about. Peaks. Valleys. Celebrations. Reflection. And God is there every step of the way..

I am just grateful, that's all...


Friday, September 21, 2007

Friday Five: Decluttering Edition

Sally of RevGals writes:

With Jo, Jon and Chris all moving to college and University accommodation there has been a big clear up going on in the Coleman household. We have been sorting and trying hard not just to junk stuff, but actually to get it to where it can be useful. On a brighter note we have used Freecycle ( check it out) to provide the twins with pots and pans etc that other folk were clearing out. Making the most of our resources is important, I have been challenged this week by the amount of stuff we accumulate, I'd love to live a simpler lifestyle, it would be good for me, and for the environment I think... With that in mind I bring you this Friday 5;
1. Are you a hoarder or a minimalist?
Hoarder. I admit it.

2. Name one important object ( could be an heirloom) that you will never part with.
"Never" is a hard word. I'd tell you that I would never part with my grandmother's Fostoria glassware, or my grand piano. But a tornado or a fire could wipe it all out in seconds. (Can you tell I have been praying for Darfur this morning?)

There are many things I would miss. But I can live without all of the "things" in my life. At least I think so.... I would try to, anyway... (uh... God? Don't test me on this, OK? Please?)

3. What is the oldest item in your closet? Does it still fit???
The christening gown that my grandfather wore. And no it doesn't fit.

4.Yard sales- love 'em or hate 'em?
Giving them? No thanks. Going to them? No thanks. I frequently do a drop off at GoodWill or Salvation Army.

5. Name a recycling habit you really want to get into.
FlyLady's rule of decluttering 15 minutes a day...

And for a bonus- well anything you want to add....
I would throw away or give away any or all of the following:
  • camping equipment we have not used in how many years??? six??? five???
  • suitcases that are too heavy to pick up empty, let alone full
  • dishes and stuff that were given to us, I never use, but were presents from "the other side" of the family so I have to get them out and use them or be seen as ungrateful (maybe I am... Lord, forgive me it this is so!)
  • furniture that can't be sat on or used by visitors or family because it is "too valuable" or "too new" or "mine"
I don't mean to sound rude, but we have too much stuff. It needs TIME and COMMITMENT and GIVING UP of all parties involved to succeed at this. sigh...


ToMAYto, toMAHto

You call it a "scholarship competition;"
I call it a "beauty pageant."

I don't care what you call it. You just ain't never, ever gonna see me (and hopefully none of my kin) in a get-up like this.
Not nobody. Not nohow. (But don't take my word for it -- go see it.)

I'm just sayin'....


Wednesday, September 19, 2007


Did you know?

It's International Talk Like a Pirate Day! And for those of you studying theology you had best go over to LutheranChik's Blog and larn Ye Ten Commandments with Piratitude! Else Ye'll be walking the plank at dawn!




Sunday, September 16, 2007

The Ugly Shoes Contest

Saturday, we had a fun expedition to a shoe discount place. Both The Harpist and Reedy Girl needed shoes for fencing (as in foils, not what surrounds your yard.) And they needed dressier shoes than for the occasional moment that we are not in our favorite outfits (jeans and Tshirts!) Marketing Genius (a friend from church) wanted to find some pairs for work and for kicking around. And yours truly needed something besides her Birkies for upcoming student sermons...


We went to the big shoe store. Big. Hundreds of shoes. Lotsa choices. And we did find shoes we liked, but we also found some BODACIOUSLY ugly ones. I mean it. See?

So here's a very serious question...

Which pair is the ugliest? PLEASE VOTE!

Pair number one: I shudder to think if one could find socks to match...

Pair number two: And WHO could walk in these shoes without needing to have ankle surgery afterwards?

Pair number three: Potentially perfect for that special purple-luscious outfit... but who would want an outfit that color?

Pair number four: Words fail me... that could politely suggest what "occupation" might require wearing these!

Oh.. yes.. I did indeed find shoes for a preacher woman. :) I'll model them later!


Saturday, September 15, 2007

3-0 Start - GO BUCKS!

Yeah, they came from behind. It wasn't always pretty. But put another mark in the "W" column!

Ohio State 34
Washington 14



Credit: SeattlePi.Com and Elaine Thompson, AP Photo

Friday, September 14, 2007

New Curriculum

I have spent this afternoon listening to presentations on "Christian Disicpleship Curriculum" and am bored silly. But "this will be on the test" means that I sorta had to pay attention. (Good doodling fodder, though.)

However, this class was good for something. It made me realize two things...

1) If what was presented was "the best" of what is available in discipleship, it is no wonder that people vote with their empty seats when they see what is offered.*
2) I would like to attend any class by Presbyterian Gal! (Even though her curriculum commentary was not what the institution originally wrote... she made me laugh. hard. Not quite so hard that milk can out my nose... but close.)


*P.S. To wit: the "NOT FUNNY" quote of the day from Nicky Gumbel of "The Alpha Course," who jokingly suggesting that the downfall of the Anglican church and the rise of women priests are related. And no, the people in the video didn't laugh, either.

Friday Five: Meetings, Meetings

Reverendmother at RevGalBlogPals must be "meeting-ed out!" Here's this week's Friday Five...

In honor of a couple of marathon meetings I attended this week:

1. What's your view of meetings? Choose one or more, or make up your own: a) When they're good, they're good. I love the feeling of people working well together on a common goal. b) I don't seek them out, but I recognize them as a necessary part of life. c) The only good meeting is a canceled meeting.
d) ALL of the above. Kind of on the order of a necessary evil if you want people to work together towards a common goal and not duplicate their efforts or not be unified in direction. Just please - no goofy ice breaking "tell everyone your favorite vacation spot" exercises. When I am on vacation from work, I don't want you to follow me there!

2. Do you like some amount of community building or conversation, or are you all business?
It depends. If it is a church meeting, we are talking about an organism (the BODY of Christ) not an organization! An organism has systems and unity, but it also has weaker, hurting or less-trained or less-strong parts that need encouragement and back-up. If it is a business organization, then yes - - get to work and let me go. In any case, if you are not in a dictatorship and you need and want participants to "buy-in" you need to spend time talking and working through strategies and direction together.

3. How do you feel about leading meetings? Share any particular strengths or weaknesses you have in this area.
I can lead or not. But it is very hard to sit in a committee meeting, for instance, where the person in charge is not only not ready, they can't remember what they did the last time.

4. Have you ever participated in a virtual meeting? (conference call, IM, chat, etc.) What do you think of this format?
I have them all the time for my on-line classes. If I already know the folks involved, it is fine. If we must "get acquainted" in order to then do business, it is sometimes not as productive as my phone bill (or Skype subscription) would like me to think! It is less expensive than a plane flight and hotels, though.

5. Share a story of a memorable meeting you attended.
It involved a boss whose accent was so bad we spent each meeting figuring out what she said and repeating it to each other.
Example: She wanted to know about the progress on the
"KEY-CHAIN POTE-SINK GAR-BAHGE DEES-POSE-ALL." We sat around the table and she said it over and over. Finally. The light dawned... "OH! The kitchen pot sink garbage disposer!"
Every meeting, the entire meeting, was like that. The staff would listen, look at each other and whisper "What did she just say?" until someone with the "gift of interpretation" figured it out... Two years of my life with that. Oh my... (Wish I had read this book back then!)

What is your pet peeve about meetings?

When people cancel them or don't show and don't call me!!!!


Thursday, September 13, 2007

And cats think HUMANS are strange...

This is just TOOO funny.

This morning, I came in the bathroom recently to find one of our cats, Tiria, having a good ol' chew on a toothbrush. (It wasn't mine... but... I replaced my toothbrush AND my beloved's.)

After I replaced the toothbrushes, I covered them. Apparently the new minty-fresh taste we just started using is cat-tastic in flavor. Interestingly, the girls have been covering theirs for some time... and never told us why...

How long has this been going on? I don't want to know!!! I will be sure and tell any house guests to keep their toothbrushes hooded!

At any rate, Tiria apparently was annoyed with me and blogged about it here.

Here's to a good chuckle along the way...


It's "only" grace

I have once again learned something important this week... and I hope that I remember it a little longer this time. It is simply this...

When I remember the grace extended to me...
When I see the magnitude of forgiveness God offers me every day...
When I see the lengths God went to in restoring a relationship with humanity... let alone me...
I am humbled.
And when I remember that time and time again, that God-kinda-Grace is extended to me through my brothers and sisters in Christ, I am undone.

So this is my prayer: that your love will flourish and that you will not only love much but well. Learn to love appropriately. You need to use your head and test your feelings so that your love is sincere and intelligent, not sentimental gush. Live a lover's life, circumspect and exemplary, a life Jesus will be proud of: bountiful in fruits from the soul, making Jesus Christ attractive to all, getting everyone involved in the glory and praise of God. [Philippians 1: 9-11]

Matthew Henry wrote:
Lord and Master... Lord, forgive the past, and enable us to follow thee more closely for the time to come.

"Only Grace" by Matthew West

I am undone.


Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Invitation to Poetry: Rumpled Sheets

Abbey of the Arts invites one and all to her newest Invitation to Poetry on her blog:

I shared the other day about the freedom a messy spirituality is inviting me to and my dream of rumpled sheets. Then over the weekend there was this brilliant moment when the sun was illuminating my sheets and I captured it in the photo below. What does the image evoke for you? What words are stirred?

Feeling particularly messy and rumpled at the moment, I will most definitely PLAY! You see, I have realized... Sheets are NOT meant to be left folded in the package. Or covering a bed and not used... Sheets are meant to be rumpled. And so is life.

Oh. Sorry. On to the poetry...

I was taught
hospital corners and
fluffed pillows and
a neatly pulled-up bedspread
was how you started your day.
Routines. Organization.

I grew up
and said,
"The bed will just get rumpled tonight!
why bother?" and
sloppiness seemed to work.

And now?
The rumpled parts of me and
those which sometimes straighten up
and fly right
are more comfortable and
less neat around the edges.
Unless, of course,
guests come.
And then the hospital corners come back.

What I have learned along the way
is that REAL friends
come and bounce on the bed
and rumple up the sheets
once more.

But extended grace
and Grateful.


The last week has been very VERY emo for me. I admit it.

Coming out of this pothole in the journey has left me drained, and curiously, grateful that I don't live here any more. At least, not on a regular basis.

A sign, perhaps, of how I am changing or have changed. And a reminder that I have learned enough to choose to live my life with a little more balance!!!

Is everything in my life resolved the way I personally would like it? And have I figured out where the "triggers" are that sent me into this? No and no...

However... I am learning a little in the process...

  • I understand more of the "exhaustion factor" when I am living in a highly emotional, anxious state. Geesh. Takes a whole lot of energy. More than I have to spare. (Or maybe I am getting old??)
  • Who I chose to listen to affects my perception and understanding of the conflict I am in. There are people in my life who are not good for me to hang with and get their viewpoint. Theirs is so messed up that I don't perceive it. I supposed that should be a big DUH moment. But when I am that moment, I don't get it. At least not right away. I must -- MUST -- listen to "The Voice of Truth."
But the waves are calling out my name
and they laugh at me
Reminding me of all the times
I've tried before and failed
The waves they keep on telling me
time and time again
"Boy, you'll never win,
you'll never win."
"But the Voice of Truth tells me a different story,
The Voice of Truth says 'do not be afraid'!
The Voice of Truth says 'this is for my glory.'
Out of all the voices calling out to me...
I will choose to listen and believe
the Voice of Truth..."
[Casting Crowns]

I have turned my head in a new direction. It is not easy. But it is essential. The kind of negative, anxiety-producing, self-critical mindset I was in was just NOT from God. And it had me in a tailspin!

Yeah. I am in "Remedial Emotional Processing" this week. It's not all bad. In fact, realizing I need it has been very good for me.

Now the other stuff? The pea-heads who have been throwing rocks at my armor and dissing my Call? I just handed them over to God. I can not worry about them now. There's too much to do for God's Sake!

Just mumbling on the journey...
Edited to add the rest of the words from the chorus of "Voice of Truth" because it seemed important...

Monday, September 10, 2007

done my heart good

Posted at RevGals yesterday and it done my heart good this morning...

Lord of all hopefulness, Lord of all joy,
Whose trust, ever child-like, no cares could destroy,
Be there at our waking, and give us, we pray,
Your bliss in our hearts, Lord, at the break of the day.

Lord of all eagerness, Lord of all faith,
Whose strong hands were skilled at the plane and the lathe,
Be there at our labours, and give us, we pray,
Your strength in our hearts, Lord, at the noon of the day.

Lord of all kindliness, Lord of all grace,
Your hands swift to welcome, your arms to embrace,
Be there at our homing, and give us, we pray,
Your love in our hearts, Lord, at the eve of the day.

Lord of all gentleness, Lord of all calm,
Whose voice is contentment, whose presence is balm,
Be there at our sleeping, and give us, we pray,
Your peace in our hearts, Lord, at the end of the day.


Sunday, September 09, 2007

More than a friend for the journey

I don't blog about him enough...

My closest friend for the journey is my Beloved Bearded Spouse. I guess I don't write about him a lot because he's an introvert and I don't want to shove him "out there" into the blogosphere. But there is no way I could do this adventure I am on without him.

For example...
In less than 24 hours he has...

  • ...managed the home front (I had meetings from 8-2:30)
  • ...did troubleshooting on the wireless router (what IS it doing???)
  • ...reminded me that it was time for supper (I forget when I am "on task")
  • ...joined me for a casual chat with M&K
  • ...prepared the coffee autopot for the morning (ahhhhh)
  • ...set the alarm for me (something I often forget to do and frequently goof up)
  • ...herded the kids to church on time (no easy feat, even if they DO dress and get breakfast by themselves!)
  • ...corralled the kids and got them home for lunch (45 minutes ahead of me!)
  • ...and now he's off doing his son-ly duties when he really wants a nap...
Then there's the numerous times he has...
  • ...covered things at home when I am involved in ministry.
  • ...handled the TOTAL home life while I am traveling, or at modular week at school.
  • ...give me a (small) dropkick to go to the doctor because I am sick.
  • with and loving my family of many loud, happy folks when he comes from a small quiet one.
Not to mention...
  • ...the long talks, with me venting and him philosophizing on what it is that has me REALLY ticked
  • ...finding resources or ideas for me when I am stumped on research
  • ...making me see possibly a more *balanced* view than my emo one (as if!)
  • ...taking a stand for me, with me when I feel attacked
  • ...reminding me that the "best things" in life are usually right here. Not "out there."
  • fantabulous backrubs!
I think I'm blessed. Wait. I take that back. I KNOW I am.

So thanks, love...

Friday, September 07, 2007

The "Big Ten" - Updated!

It seems that nothing can be explained simply any more. At least, not and have it make sense with a new century's cultural filter in place. I have been reading several books which are post-modern in their thinking (Rob Bell's Velvet Elvis and Sex God among them.)

Curiously, his writing did not seem as far out to me as I had thought it would be.

Radical, yes. Implausible? No...

So with that in mind... when I read the following my first reaction was... Hmmm... makes sense!

Douglas Taylor-Weiss, once suggested a version of the Ten Commandments based on today's culture:

1. Have a good day.

2. Shop.

3. Eliminate pain.

4. Be up-to-date.

5. Relax.

6. Express yourself.

7. Have a happy family.

8. Be entertaining.

9. Be entertained.

10. Buy entertainment.

Yeah. That about says it all!

Lessons in Silence, Part Two

I have a paper to finish, but this has to get written because it keeps inserting itself into my exegetical summary... which is most annoying! And since I am obviously not of a Turabian mind at the moment herewith is...

I mentioned my short journey into silence this week here at Dayspring Retreat Center. There is another part to this story that has had me pondering with thankfulness.

My good friend Dana, fellow seminarian, Emmaus sponsor, prayer partner and all-round wonderful woman was unexpectedly also a participant at the silent retreat. What a shock (and a joy) to walk onto the porch of the retreat center and see her! After we laughed and hugged and laughed some more, I felt a touch from God that was a clear reminder, "See. I know what you need." Yes. We spent the day in silence together. But knowing that she was around on the 200+ acres, also walking and talking with Jesus was just a delight to my heart. (This is Dana goofing around with "The Harpist" during Chick Week at the Beach.)

As I walked around the property, I spent a lot of time just listening to the sound of my footsteps blending with the beauty around me. I spent some time at the top of a hill overlooking a pond. There was no breeze, just blue sky, clouds, buzzards floating overhead, me, and God. I was wishing I had my camera when I had one of those "eureka" moments... (I snagged this picture from the Dayspring website... next time, I take my camera!)

Part of the pond was obscured by the hill.
Part of it was covered with a scum of algae.
And part of it, I could see a perfect reflection of the trees along one bank of the pond.

That's my life.
There's stuff I can't see clear to understand - the part that was obscured.
There's part of my life I know and understand PERFECTLY - the part that is a perfect reflection... where God is seen and known in my life.
There's part that is visible, but clouded by whatever life has caused to block the reflection. Sin. Mine. Others. We get in the way and we don't see what God is doing. (And sometimes, algae stinks!!)

I wrote this in my journal as I sat there...

It can be a swirl of noise,
tasks, people, and assignments...
It's meant to be a holy service.
For God and Him only.

There is posturing.
Sounded "edumacated."
Elocution, diction and grammar.
A public "face" that covers pain.
Expectations and prejudice.
Self-righteousness and protectionism.

I know that is NOT what You want!

Show me the balance...
...of confidently resting
my Call in You
...of humbly accepting
Your direction and correction.

I believe in what You
ask me to do.
I long to be in that place
You have called me to.
I wrestle with waiting
until You move...
until Your appointed time comes...

I breathe.
I listen.
I hear and obey.

September 5, 2007

There's more brewing. Maybe it'll blog.


doing trifles

It is better to do the most trifling thing in the world than to regard half an hour as trifle.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Today has been a day of errands, grocery shopping and laundry. Trifles. And yet not.
I am renewed in ways I did not even see...

thank you, Lord!

Friday Five: On Overcoming

Sally from RevGalBlogPals writes:

I am preparing this Friday 5 just before I take Chris into hospital for a cardioversion, right now we are all a little apprehensive. But this whole thing has got me thinking, so many of us are overcomers in one way or another, so many have amazing stories to tell of God's faithfulness in adversity. And so I bring you this Friday 5...
1.Have you experienced God's faithfulness at a difficult time? Tell as much or as little as you like...
Many, MANY times God has been there in the hard places. A broken engagement. A church staff position which was so disastrous for me that I was convinced I had no gifting for public ministry. The death of my father. Worries during health scares. Struggling with life decisions.

In each situation, just at the right time, God gave a picture, or a snippet of a Bible verse, a phrase of a song. And, as I needed it most, frien
ds to listen and walk beside me through me. (Some of you are reading this - you know who you are... thanks again for being faithful!)

2. Have you experienced a dark night of the soul, if so what brought you through?
Resting. Waiting. At times, ceasing from my usual pursuits and activities in order to hear God more clearly. Pouring out my heart in writing, and in song at the piano. Many boxes of tissues and good chocolate!

3. Share a Bible verse, song, poem that has brought you comfort?
It's a toss-up between "Haven't got time for the pain" by Carly Simon and "The Valley Song" by Jars of Clay. Here's part of the lyrics...
Suffering was the only thing that made me feel I was alive
Though that's just how much it cost to survive in this world
'Til you showed me how, how to fill my heart with love
How to open up and drink in all that white LIGHT
Pouring down from the heaven
I haven't got time for the pain
I haven't got room for the pain
I haven't the need for the pain
Not since I've known you...

Jars of Clay
When death like a Gypsy comes to steal what I love
I will still look to the heavens I will still seek your face

But I fear you aren't listening because there are no words
Just the stillness and the hunger for a faith that assures

I will sing of Your mercy
That leads me through valleys of sorrow
To rivers of joy

4. Is "why suffering" a valid question?
If it isn't, then a whole bunch of folks in the Bible must not be "biblical"! Start with Job... David... Jeremiah... even the Pharisees (when they weren't being duplicitous...) I would say that the human race has always experienced it and always will until Jesus comes back!

5. And on a lighter note- you have reached the end of a dark and difficult time- how are you going to celebrate?
Same way I made it through - with songs, people and chocolate!

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Lessons in silence... part 1

I had a wonderful day yesterday at Dayspring Retreat Center. Though I have been there before, I was again surprised at the quiet and peace that fell on me as I parked my car. Walking from the parking area to the Lodge where the retreat started, I heard just the "noise" of quiet and the wind in the trees.

The scenery was quiet and peaceful, but my mind was anything BUT! As I told the Spiritual Director, Dick, before we entered into the silence, "I'm confused, I'm angry and I'm hear to shut up and listen." In a gentle way, he validated my feelings and encouraged me to "leave them" somewhere out in the 200 acres of the retreat center's property, so that I could indeed hear God.

In our opening session, Dick read from Ruthless Trust by Brennan Manning. Manning's words encouraged us to allow the One who abandoned all to engage us in relationship. That God was totally trustworthy. That He not only understood our fears, feelings and failings, but wanted to help us walk out of them. And then he read a pithy quote from Henry Nouwen:

"The root choice is to trust at all times that God is with you and will give you what you most need." (from The Inner Voice of Love)

Walk with Me.

Yeah. A powerful start.

I walked out into the meadow, which had mowed paths through and around it in a kind of natural, grassy maze. I watched goldfinches feast on thistle seed maturing on the stalks. A couple of buzzards floated overhead. Milkweed pods, fat and green and brown, ready to explode And there were butterflies everywhere!

A monarch butterfly landed on one milkweed pod. In the instant that its feet touched the pod, it burst! The seeds floated out in the breeze and the butterfly hovered for a moment before returning to the spent pod. In that instant, I had one of my God pictures for the day...

When it is time -- when I am ready (at full "maturity") the pod will burst. The dreams and preparation and hard work will spill out. God's intentions will be clear and I will move into His work. Nothing will stop them. Not prejudice, or bad theology. And when it's time, I won't be able to wait or pass the job to someone else. This chick will be let loose and won't look back.

In the mean time? Papers. Projects. Internship. Laundry and kids. Husband. Church. Friends. All in the pod with me. It is a little crowded. But the time will come...


I'm just getting ready.

...more later.

Thanks for listening...


Tuesday, September 04, 2007


the top of Mt. Zugspitz, Bavaria (Germany)

I am on a silent retreat
through Thursday morning...
back atcha then...

My soul, wait in silence for God only,
For my hope is from Him.
He only is my rock and my salvation,
My stronghold;
I shall not be shaken.
On God my salvation and my glory rest;
The rock of my strength,
my refuge is in God.
Trust in Him at all times, O people;
Pour out your heart before Him;
God is a refuge for us.
Psalm 62:5-8

There are times...

There are times...
...that I want to respectfully, (in a Spirit-led way, of course,) chuck my Bible right at their pig-headed complementarian heads.

I should know better. When the "supportive" statements start with a gender-based qualifier or explanation, I should not expect an ally in the Call to the pastorate.

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


Sunday, September 02, 2007

A Good Word

"When we have no margin and our limits have been exceeded, when we are besieged by stress and overload; when our relational life is ailing, when it seems the flood of events is beyond our control; then problems take on a different dimension. One at a time they are perhaps manageable. But they just won't stand in line. Instead, they mound up suddenly and then bury us without warning."

Margin by Richard A. Swenson, M.D. (p.42)
Breathing room.
Chill time.

I am not someone who likes to waste time, who likes to kill time, who likes to do nothing. I like to DO!!! I see space on my schedule and I either get sidetracked doing the least important, or the most visible task in front of me. Rarely do I kick back and just mellow out.

Part of the reason this is true is because I've been told I was "born busy" with places to go and people to see. Part of it is also my self-imposed "need" to prove myself. And the rest of it? I don't like being bored. So I will fill up the space with activity.

Reading Swenson's book though, has been a necessary evil for me. I really need to evaluate why I do what I do, and if it is the wisest use of the 24 hours God gives me every day. It is a good thing to make time for... kind of like making a budget or rotating the tires on the car. Smart people plan ahead. Random people live for the next crisis. And some of us, especially us pastors or pastor-wannabe types, drag our unsuspecting spouse, family, friends and yes, even our church, along with us.

We think "fix it!" or "make it better" when maybe we need to step back and say, "hmmmm... was this smart to do in the FIRST place?" I wonder how much time I have spent on things that do not matter... or were never mine to worry about in the first place? I wonder why I have felt this compulsion to DO all of this stuff...

I learned a lot last semester when I thought about plans, goals, mission and vision. Having to refine my life's mission and vision, when I don't exactly know how this will all shake out has been unnerving. Even overwhelming. It was as though I have been writing on the pages of my life and never stopped to figure out what chapter I was on, or where the plot was going. (Not that I have to know everything... but I need to at least be sure I'm writing with the right color of ink!!!)

Today has time for doing nothing. I "helped" the cat take a nap. I "watched" the sprinkler water the flowers. I am spending a few "think cycles" on nothing. Listening. Sorting. Waiting.

Yeah, there's papers to write and projects undone. But today, my margins need re-defining. So If I don't answer your emails or phone calls, it's nothing personal. Honest! I'm just outlining the margins that need to come back into my life.

The whirlwind can wait... because I never get it right when I don't stop and listen...

God said this once and for all;
how many times
Have I heard it repeated?
"Strength comes
Straight from God."
Psalm 62:11


Saturday, September 01, 2007

Where my brother was today...

Ohio State 38
Youngstown State 6


P.S. Michigan lost to Appalachian State!