Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Picture Tag

Quaker Pastor and fellow Buckeye tagged me for this one...

The object of picture tag is to...
1. Choose the 4th folder on your computer where you keep/store your pictures.
2. Select the 4th picture in the folder
3. Explain the picture
4. Tag 4 people to do the same! No cheating (cropping, editing, etc)Here is mine....



This was at our Church's annual "Birthday Bash" where we celebrate everyone's birthdays at the same time. I hosted the table and came up with the theme. And it was all done with the conscripted help of The Harpist, since we are both "June Bugs" (hence the tres chic "antennae" we wore.)

And she can't un-tag THIS photo, unlike Facebook.

HA!

Now, I tag:

Debbi D
Jeff (because he whines when I ask Sarah and not him)
Mindy
Golden Acorn mama
Tiria and Henry (cuz we needs us some cattitude)

Having fun and waiting for The Harpist's reaction (hee hee)

Deb

Quirky=ness




Your Quirk Factor: 53%



You're a pretty quirky person, but you're just normal enough to hide it.

Congratulations - you've fooled other people into thinking you're just like them!

A very small rant...

128296332312188750imignoringyou.jpg
more animals

And I WILL get over it.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Found a new resource...

Hat tip to Presbyterian Gal... she had a link to this blog in her side bar.

The post for the Lectionary of January 4, 2009 is New Year's Resolutions from our Monastic Mothers and Fathers.

Great info and links! And ten very thought-provoking applications from the author's perspective...

I've bookmarked it! :)

Deb

P.S. Fixed the link... sorry...

Sunday, December 28, 2008

When God shows up...

Not my photo, FYI :^)

Today was... amazing.

Sometimes, you believe that you have something to say, but you get in the way of God's words.
Sometimes, you prepare and double prepare... and it just isn't your day.

Every time I preach, I have...
listened...
prayed....
vetted my ideas and outline...
some more...
get critique and coaching
tweak and timed and tweaked and timed some more...

And today...
God showed up.

I'm stunned.
Amazed.
Grateful.
And still processing it.

A bunch of you prayed, listened and helped me remember that it really is NOT about Deb.
It's about God.
It's about communicating hope.
And getting the Word out.

And to be a part of that --
Is completely and totally why I would do it again next week...

Gratefully...
Deb

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Hold Out For Hope

The Work of Christmas
by Howard Thurman

When the star in the sky is gone,
When the Kings and Princes are home,
When the shepherds are back with their flocks,
The work of Christmas begins.

To find the lost,
To heal the broken,
To feed the hungry
To release the prisoner,
To teach the nations,
To bring Christ to all,
To make music in the heart.

Friday, December 26, 2008

A Boxing Day Friday Five

Mary Beth of RevGals writes:

It's Boxing Day!

Whatever that may mean to you, I invite you on this day to simply share five things that today, December 26th, will bring for you.

Wow. Well, it's after 7 p.m. but here's my list of what has/will happen...
1. Finish sermon outline for bulletin on HOPE - using the story of Simeon and Anna. (done)
2. Work on slide content for sermon - send off by noon. (done - but took until 1 ish)
3. Spend some time with God. (great lunch buddy!)
4. Get home in time for dinner. (succeeded)
5. Edit my outline into "preaching form." (to do)

It's been a good day...

peace -
Deb

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas...

It's time -- Christmas Eve snuck up on me and is finally here. Time to go find where the Baby Jesus figure is hiding. (We don't put him out until the kids have gone to bed. Yes. Even though they are teens, we don't put the Jesus figure into the creche until Christmas Eve.)

So as I kick off my shoes, and wrap the last few presents...
as I try to remember if all the presents I've squirreled away are indeed under the tree...
as I figure out what we are having for Christmas dinner (no - I still haven't quite finished that task from last Friday!)
...in the bustle and busyness... I don't want to forget that God IS with us. Emmanuel.

He is Here.

Merry Christmas...
Deb



O come, O come, Emmanuel,
and ransom captive Israel,
that mourns in lonely exile here
until the Son of God appear.

Rejoice! Rejoice!
Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, thou Wisdom from on high,
who orderest all things mightily;
to us the path of knowledge show,
and teach us in her ways to go.

O come, thou Rod of Jesse, free
thine own from Satan's tyranny;
from depths of hell thy people save,
and give them victory over the grave.

O come, thou Dayspring, come and cheer
our spirits by thine advent here;
disperse the gloomy clouds of night,
and death's dark shadows put to flight.

O come, thou Key of David, come,
and open wide our heavenly home;
make safe the way that leads on high,
and close the path to misery.

O come, O come, great Lord of might,
who to thy tribes on Sinai's height
in ancient times once gave the law
in cloud and majesty and awe.

O come, thou Root of Jesse's tree,
an ensign of thy people be;
before thee rulers silent fall;
all peoples on thy mercy call.

O come, Desire of nations, bind
in one the hearts of all mankind;
bid thou our sad divisions cease,
and be thyself our King of Peace.

O come, O come, Emmanuel,
and ransom captive Israel,
that mourns in lonely exile here
until the Son of God appear.

Rejoice! Rejoice!
Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.

Monday, December 22, 2008

I Need a Silent Night


by Amy Grant

Amen...

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Approved by the Bearded Mouse


All I can say is YUM-O!!
These cookies were a hit this evening and they passed several rounds of "poison testing." We actually won't get most of them. The teachers at Wootton High School will have them as part of the PTA Cookie Exchange.

Ghiradelli Mint Cookies

3/4 cups unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
2 Tbsp water
11.5 oz bag Ghiradelli 70% chocolate chips (see notes)
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2 3/4 cups flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/4 tsp. soda
For topping: Andes mint candies, unwrapped and cut in half

Melt together butter, brown sugar and water in a medium saucepan over low heat. Add chocolate chips. Stir until melted. Remove from heat. Allow chocolate mixture to stand at least 10 minutes.

Sift dry ingredients together in a large bowl. Make a well and add eggs. Begin stirring in chocolate mixture into flour mixture until well blended. Cover dough and chill at least one hour. (Or... go decorate Christmas tree, eat dinner and then come back to bake after dinner.)

Roll into balls and place on lightly greased cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 8 minutes. Remove from oven. Please 1/2 Andes mint on top of each cookie. Let sit on tray for a minute or two. Remove to cooling rack.

Once Andes candy has re-hardened, remove to an air-tight container.

Chocoholic approval scale: (on a scale of 1-10) 10!

Yield: Unknown. Made at least 4 dozen (enough for cookie exchange). Unable to really count them because they kept evaporating!

Notes: You can use regular chocolate chips, but decrease the sugar! The original recipe suggested swirling the melting candy over the top of the cookie. We like them left as is.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Advent musing: silent retreat


Sow for yourselves righteousness;
reap steadfast love;
break up your fallow ground,
for it is the time to seek the LORD,
that he may come and rain righteousness upon you.
Hosea 10:12


I walked the grounds of the retreat center yesterday. Nature is surely in a time of rest, of "fallow ground." Even the earth joined in our "silent retreat." What a difference from a few short months ago! My last visit there, the rabbits were scurrying everywhere, deer walked by the lodge and stared in the windows, and the birds were serenading me during my walk with songs and trills.


Yesterday showed the change of seasons. There were signs of last year's "crop" of seeds and berries. There were places where the tall grass had been flattened by a herd of deer, bedding down for the night. Other than birds flying, there wasn't a whole lot of activity. Things were still.


I walked in the peaceful turns of the stone labyrinth. It was tranquil under the trees. The reflecting pond nearby showed no ripples.



Peace.
Waiting.
Rest.


We are in that time in between. The manger and cross remembered. The reign of Jesus still to come.

My heart is at rest. Taking time to stop and listen and reflect can do that. Even now, as I finish a busy morning of studying and writing, the peace remains. A peace that defies the scurrying around of five days before Christmas. Like the soaking rain outside my window, it's saturated my heart.

If I could give you nothing else, this Christmas I would give you peace...

Peace be to you..
Deb
E'en so, Lord Jesus, quickly come...


Friday Five: Countdown to Christmas Edition

Songbird writes:

It's true.
There are only five full days before Christmas Day, and whether you use them for shopping, wrapping, preaching, worshiping, singing or traveling or even wishing the whole darn thing were over last Tuesday, there's a good chance they will be busy ones.

So let's make this easy, if we can: tell us five things you need to accomplish before Christmas Eve.


1. Get the tree up and decorated. (Tomorrow afternoon.)
2. Set up creche. (Maybe this afternoon.)
3. Shopping for presents. (Note to listless progeny: do you want socks? underwear? a tacky sweater with blinking lights? it's all you will get unless I get a LIST presto-pronto!)
4. Bake cookies. (Saturday and Sunday)
5. Decorate rest of house. (whenever)
5b. OOPS. Christmas dinner! What are we having? Who is coming? ack ack ack!!!!
5c. DOUBLE OOPS! I have a sermon to write for the 28th!

Things I probably won't get to until after Christmas: Christmas letters, cards; mailing anything to family (we are doing a simple Christmas).

But one thing I don't want to forget... Merry Christmas and peace to you and yours...

Deb

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Advent Musing

[photo snagged from the web]
The light shines in the darkness,
but the darkness has not understood it.

John 1:5

Last weekend my husband and I saw the brightest moon of the year, in fact, in the last 15 years. It was stunning. Sunday morning as I was rushing to get out of the house on time for pre-service set up and tasks, I stopped to look at it again. Shining. Gleaming in the stillness.

I don't do well with the light-deprived days this time of year. The darkness pulls at me, drags down my spirits. I fight to keep perspective, to throw condemning doubts back into the pit that they came from, remembering Whose I am. I get frustrated and discouraged. And there's the huge temptation to pack it in and go sell shoes at DSW or something.

How very like the Master Planetarium Designer... to send a bright moon into the very darkest, shortest days of the year. To remind me just to keep... reflecting the Light...

Deb


Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Advent musing:

A Christmas Market in Germany 2006

I see this photo and remember the celebration of Advent in Germany. Adding lights each day as the calendar ticked slowly to Christmas Eve. The light, always increasing, reminding us of the
God from God, Light from Light...
A city square so bright that the streets were bright, almost like day. Bright with reflected light.
Reflected light...
Which is exactly what I want to be. A reflection of the Light of the World.

Deb

Monday, December 15, 2008

Wish I'd had this BEFORE my final!

Wish I'd had this BEFORE my final!




Hat tip to Sophia... : )

Deb

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Advent Musing:


Praise him, sun and moon;
praise him, all you shining stars.
Praise him, you highest heavens
and you waters above the skies.

Psalm 148:3-4



Why this picture for Advent? It's one of the prettier ones I have of the sky. Every time I see a glorious sunset like this, I think of the God of Creation who sets the stars in place. For me, it's a "big God" moment.

And the coming of the Christ Child is a "big God" moment too... unexplainable, breath-taking and amazing in its depth and power. And stilling the restless places in me as I watch and sit and take in the majesty of God.

Deb

Friday, December 12, 2008

Advent Musing

He has performed mighty deeds with his arm;
he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts.
from Mary's Song in Luke 1:51


We were on the road back to Poitiers after visiting some Roman ruins. The scale of the ruins showed the grandeur of the place in its heyday. All that remained were toppled columns, pieces of walls and hints of the labor involved to build it. It was thought-provoking to ponder how leaders and countries rise and fall, and how they think they have power (but don't, really). All that's left are "ruins" in every sense of the word.

he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts...

Then we saw this double rainbow.

I come back to this picture, again and again, seeing the beauty, the creativity, and the providential timing of God. Humans can "create" rainbows with lights and vapor and so on... but the hidden power behind this always leaves me in awe. I have such a sense of "smallness."

Mary models that attitude for me. Not cowed before God, but aware of the power, the mighty arm that builds up and tears down. The God who is from everlasting to everlasting, could blast us all into a new reality.

Instead, he sends a sign, as gentle as a rainbow. A baby. A redeemer.

Pretty amazing, actually, the more I think about it...

Deb

The Eyes Have it: A Friday Five "Windows of the Soul"

Sophia of RevGals writes:

"This Friday Five is inspired by my husband's Lasik surgery yesterday....He'd been contemplating it for a while and was pushed over the edge by the fact that we put too much money in our healthcare spending account this year and it would have been gone anyway. (There was only enough for one eye, but the kind people at the eye clinic figured out a way to divvy up the charges between surgery and followup in January=next year's spending account). So please say a little prayer for his safe recovery and share with us your thoughts on eyes and vision."

1. What color are your beautiful eyes? Did you inherit them from or pass them on to anyone in your family?
My eyes are brown. Lightish brown. I inherited them from my dad, and gave them to the Harpist. (Reedy Girl has the eyes of the Bearded Brewer.)

2. What color eyes would you choose if you could change them?
Um? I'm pretty content. Don't know as I'd change them, except to perhaps make them a little less bloodshot than they are this morning!

3. Do you wear glasses or contacts? What kind? Like 'em or hate 'em?
Glasses since I was 8 years old... I tried contacts but they were the old "hard" kind and I kept blinking them out. I've never tried again, which is probably a good thing since I'm very nearsighted, experience a lot of allergic reactions in my eyes (hence I rarely wear eye makeup) AND have a lovely amount of astigmatism. Soft contacts have never been an option.

Now I am a presbyoptican. (Sounds so much more elegant than "I wear progressive lenses.")

4. Ever had, or contemplated, laser surgery? Happy with the results?
Nope. I only have two eyeballs. I've heard enough about troubles that I just didn't want to borrow any.

5. Do you like to look people in the eye, or are you more eye-shy?
I do look people in the eye... unless they make me nervous. Then I look away...


Bonus question: Share a poem, song, or prayer that relates to eyes and seeing.
I'm feeling frivolous... here's titles of songs that I could remember with the word "EYE/EYES/EYED" in them. (But I do pray for quick healing from the eye surgery!)

These Eyes - The Guess Who
Green Eyed Lady - Sugarloaf
Eye Of The Beholder - Metallica
Don't It Make My Brown Eyes Blue - Crystal Gail
My Eyes Adored You - Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons
Father's Eyes - Amy Grant
Sad Eyes - Robert John
Eye Of The Tiger - Survivor
Can't Take My Eyes Off Of You - Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons
For Your Eyes Only - Sheena Easton
These Eyes - The Guess Who
Blue Eyes Crying In The Rain - Willie Nelson
Five Foot Two, Eyes of Blue - (no clue...)


AND - because I am one...
Brown Eyed Girl - Van Morrison


The EYES have it! :)
Deb

Thursday, December 11, 2008

weight of waiting

It's been a gloomy day here. Lots of rain, more coming and the promise of a "wintry weather mix" in the early morning hours. We are waiting to see what really develops in the next storm system. Is it going to be icy, snowy or just a cold walk to the school bus? Who knows?

In the final push to finish my semester, I was thinking about this "waiting" that the whole world must do - the first Advent came at a time of military occupation and high taxes. It was as though the tension was pulled to a breaking point. Today there's the yearning and groaning... the fighting and political posturing... and that's not even including the pain of Wall Street these last few months!


So when I saw the raindrops gathering, pooling and forming droplets off of the branches... I thought, "even nature is waiting, too."




come, Lord Jesus, come...

Deb

Not very holy post...

That sound you just heard was laughter...

Because Cathy's post pointed me to Jo(e)'s post on current slang and vocabulary. I did know some of it (don't ask. I read a lot) but it's obvious I am going to need to brush up on my Spanish vernacular.

Not a very holy post... and now it's time to push and finish the semester...

Deb

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Poetry Party: Illumination

Christine over at Abbey of the Arts writes:

...my invitation to you this week is to write a poem in honor of the call to illumination. In the growing darkness of these days, might you discover your own brilliance and the brilliant beauty of the world? The image below was taken at the retreat center (on the Hood Canal) one evening when the world was luminous.

Just the right moment
when all is still
and all is at rest
there! I see it!

The way across...
the way through...
the path beyond
reflected in my heart.

It's known as reality -
a place to bring vision
and joy and peace and light
where there is blindness
and anger and brokenness and darkness.

More than ever,
as You shine within my heart
I know I am made
to spread that Light.

- Deb Vaughn
Advent 2008

If I say, "Surely the darkness will hide me
and the light become night around me,"
even the darkness will not be dark to You;
the night will shine like the day,
for darkness is as light to You.
Psalm 139:11-12


Advent musing

looking out the castle window...


5
I wait for the LORD, my whole being waits,
and in his word I put my hope.

and I'm not too good at this "waiting " thing...

6 I wait for the Lord
more than watchmen wait for the morning,
more than watchmen wait for the morning.

weariness, boredom, sense of purposelessness on the night watches...

7 Israel, put your hope in the LORD,
for with the LORD is unfailing love
and with him is full redemption.

believing, trusting, looking to the only thing that makes sense to believe in... GOD!

8 He himself will redeem Israel
from all their sins.

God alone - sent Jesus - the dynamic Holy Spirit... to redeem and change us all...

Psalm 130

Deb... a work in progress

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Advent photo and musing...

a silent church in Poitiers, France

Since ancient times no one has heard,
no ear has perceived,
no eye has seen any God besides you,
who acts on behalf of those who wait for him.
Isaiah 64:4



Advent is a season of waiting. Of looking back. Of looking ahead. Of knowing something is coming, but we don't know what, exactly.

No eye has seen...
No ear has heard...

Just as the people in Bethlehem didn't expect a Savior that night,
I wonder, just wonder, what God is going to do that WE don't expect he will do.

My plate is full this week with school stuff, but I'm carving out a little time to sit, to think, to wonder what it is I'm not seeing and hearing...

No eye has seen...
No ear has heard...

Whatcha up to, Lord? I'm waiting...


Deb


Monday, December 08, 2008

Advent readings



Isaiah 40:1-5

Comfort, comfort my people,
says your God.

Speak tenderly to Jerusalem,
and proclaim to her
that her hard service has been completed,
that her sin has been paid for,
that she has received from the LORD's hand
double for all her sins.

A voice of one calling:
"In the wilderness prepare
the way for the LORD;
make straight in the desert
a highway for our God.

Every valley shall be raised up,
every mountain and hill made low;
the rough ground shall become level,
the rugged places a plain.

And the glory of the LORD will be revealed,
and all people will see it together.
For the mouth of the LORD has spoken."

Saturday, December 06, 2008

I need one of these

I need one of these...

funny pictures of cats with captions
from ICanHazCheezburger

Since I have no answers...

Friday, December 05, 2008

Advent simplicity: Light and Beauty Friday Five

Sally from RevGalBlogPals writes:

"Imagine a complex, multi-cultural society that annually holds an elaborate winter festival, one that lasts not simply a few days, but several weeks. This great festival celebrates the birth of the Lord and Saviour of the world, the prince of peace, a man who is divine. People mark the festival with great abundance- feasting, drinking and gift giving....." (Richard Horsley- The Liberation of Christmas)

The passage goes on, recounting the decorations that are hung, and the songs and dances that accompany the festival, how the economy booms and philanthropic acts abound....

But this is not Christmas- this is a Roman festival in celebration of the Emperor....This is the world that Jesus was born into! The world where the early Christians would ask "Who is your Saviour the Emperor or Christ?"

And yet our shops and stores and often our lives are caught up in a world that looks very much like the one of ancient Rome, where we worship at the shrine of consumerism....

Advent on the other hand calls us into the darkness, a time of quiet preparation, a time of waiting, and re-discovering the wonder of the knowledge that God is with us. Advent's call is to simplicity and not abundance, a time when we wait for glorious light of God to come again...

Christ is with us at this time of advent, in the darkness, and Christ is coming with his light- not the light of the shopping centre, but the light of love and truth and beauty.

Sooo.... here's the Friday Five:
What do you long for this advent? What are your hopes and dreams for the future? What is your prayer today?
In the vein of simplicity I ask you to list five advent longings....

I've been thinking a lot about the difference between HOPE and DREAMS. I can quote you several verses, but to really internalize this and make it "mine" I have struggled to articulate the difference.

DREAM: that's a wishing, a pie-in-the-sky "oooohhhh I want THAT for Christmas" kinda feeling. It might or might not happen. I might or might not be a part of its coming to reality. It might or might not be realistic or even in my best interests. I don't want to DREAM as much as HOPE.

HOPE: that's the intangible reality that says that God will do what is promised. SO...

1. I HOPE for justice to pour down on the oppressed, the hurting and the mistreated.
2. I HOPE for an end to sadness and mourning and pain
3. I HOPE for all of us who have spiritual gifts will have the courage and opportunity to use them
4. I HOPE for a Kingdom reality that turns all of our ideas about heaven and righteousness upside down
5. I HOPE for an opportunity to dance in heaven with all creatures and poeple that I love and miss.

And I HOPE for peace and joy for each one of you during this season...

Deb

Houston, we have a plumber!


I just thought you should see why I am grateful for our plumber tonight... We were about a day or so away from an in-house swimming pool!


When the plumber (whose name was NOT Joe!) began to remove the sink trap, the pipe fell to pieces in his hands. So, to whatever angels God has in charge of holding pipes together... THANKS!!!

Deb

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Advent reflections continue...


around the bend
beyond the curve and out of sight
the spring bubbles up
moves through the underbrush
and seeps underground...
always going deeper, deeper,
closer to the stream, to the river to the sea.

only when I stop to look
to watch
to trace a stream's path
do I see the obstacles it overcomes
the relentless distractions of the closest low places
the pools of contentment
that dry up since they are not connected
to the Source.

I may not understand
when God moves me deeper
into obstacles and low places
and journey on out of sight
but I never want to be cut off
from the fresh Springs of joy
that always seek to energize my travels
down to the stream, the river, the sea...
to be poured out
on empty lives.

Deb Vaughn
Dec. 08

See, I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up;
do you not perceive it?

I am making a way in the wilderness
and streams in the wasteland.

Isaiah 43:19

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Wednesday - Blog Comment Day

Hey! If you're here, why not leave a comment?

(You know you want to.)

Just to make it more fun... you can respond to this poll:

1) If I were to dye my hair, what color would most embarrass my kids? (Don't worry, I won't wear matching spandex. Just go ahead and delete that mental image. I'm sorry.)
2) Which is the worst Christmas song you've ever heard?
3) Is God REALLY bigger than the Boogie Man?
4) Will I have a Blue Christmas without you?
5) Do you believe yet that the end-of-the-semester is quickly robbing me of my sanity?

I leave you to respond with your enlightening comments.

Ever the serious contemplative one...

Deb

Monday, December 01, 2008

Commercial break...

Had to post this... because, who'da thunk it??



It's legit. It's from WeCanSolveIt.Org

While Reverend Al Sharpton and Pat Robertson have different views on most issues, when it comes to the urgency of protecting the planet, they agree.

"I am honored that Al Gore asked me to be a part of this campaign urging people to take care of the planet," Robertson said on the Christian Broadcasting Network. “It's just common sense that we ought to be good stewards of the environment and do everything within our power to protect this fragile planet that we all live on."

At the taping of this clip on Virginia Beach, the two joked and prayed together. If these polar opposites can come together on this important and moral issue, why can't you?

Please join more than one million others who know it will take all of us coming together to solve the climate crisis.

Advent Mini-Retreat, #3

The Advent Mini-Retreat continues...

Hail, space for the uncontained God
From the Agathistos Hymn, Greece VIc


In the sixth month of Elizabeth's pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin's name was Mary. The angel went to her and said, "Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you."

Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. But the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end."

"How will this be," Mary asked the angel, "since I am a virgin?"

The angel answered, "The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be unable to conceive is in her sixth month. For no word from God will ever fail."

"I am the Lord's servant," Mary answered. "May it be to me according to your word." Then the angel left her. Luke 1:26-38 (TNIV)

For further reflection
  1. The angel advises Mary not to be afraid. What do you think were some of Mary's feelings in her conversation with the angel? How have you felt when you've become aware of a new call from God?
  2. Imagine beginning each day with the prayer "let it be with me according to your word." How might such a prayer alter the rhythm of your days?
  3. After Mary hears the news from the angel, she goes to be with Elizabeth, an older cousin. Can you think of other women who have mentored or sheltered you?
  4. What is God calling you to give birth to in this advent season?

God's 'New Things' for me come with the familiar Heartbeat -- "serve me, trust me, give it up for me."

Usually the 'New Things' are wrapped in the old and familiar. At first glance, it seems so out-of-place, so unlikely that that's really what God wants me to do. I mean, really, God? Me?

And then, if I quiet myself and listen, I hear one word:

"YES."

As I read this meditation, I heard what sounded like a dumptruck rumbling down the street. Except -- it wasn't a dump truck! It was a thunderstorm, in the distance. A thunderstorm? In December?

"YES."

Huh.

In the middle of the journey I'm on, I am fortunate to have "Elizabeths" to turn to when I am taking some baby steps of faith. Some are cyber-friends, and some are IRL. The group here locally, M, T and D, are true sisters of the heart, and though we missed our monthly meeting this morning, I know that their ears and their prayer support are readily available to me. How like God... to not put Mary, or us, on a new path without some fellow travelers.

As to what God wants to birth out of me this Advent? Hard to say. A heart tuned to listen? A life that is more reflective of the inner peace than the outer storm? I think perhaps that's close.

And I just heard more thunder...

Quite amazing, actually, God's timing. But you knew that.

"YES."


Deb

=====
art by Henry Ossawa Tanner

Advent Retreat Part 2

Part 2 of the RevGals Advent mini-retreat...

"And my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant. Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed; for the Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name. His mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation. He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts. He has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly; he has filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty. He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, according to the promise he made to our ancestors, to Abraham and to his descendants forever." (Luke 1:47-55, NRSV)


The Lord has used his powerful arm
to scatter those who are proud.
He drags strong rulers from their thrones
and puts humble people in places of power.
God gives the hungry good things to eat,
and sends the rich away with nothing.

(Luke 1:51-53, The Message)

Songbird writes:
"But perhaps being scattered and disturbed means leaving those assumed comforts behind. God’s joyful world to come is not about malls and sales or success and victory. God’s joyful world to come will disturb us, as surely as a baby’s cry wakes us in the night and demands our attention."

For Reflection
1. What demands your attention in this Advent season?
2. What in your life needs to be scattered by God's arm?
3. What brings you joy?

-------------o-------------

What "demands" my attention is not necessarily what is most urgent, most important, or most holy. My life, with its many scattered responsibilities, keeps me in constant re-assessment mode.
DO... this?
HELP... her?
GO... where?
WRITE... what?


God's powerful arm must scatter the "pride" factor that keeps me from hearing, obeying and healing in the Presence of God. That little "Me-Do-Myself" toddler inside of me forgets -- it's God's Power that does it anyway.

But as I think of letting God "scatter" the tasks and attitudes that are out of place, I think of that elementary school math lesson my kids had on "scatter plots" - a picture of data that isn't neat and tidy, but kind of a creative messiness.

And I'm thinking... hmmmm.... messiness....

There's the problem! I don't like "messy." And yet, it's the unpredictable, the unplanned, the amazing MESSINESS of life where I truly find my joy!

Because from my perspective, when it just looks like a "moosh of dots" (that's a technical mathematics term, ya know)... from God's perspective, in 3-D, it looks lovely, systematic and all part of The Plan.

Wow.
How very much like God...

Deb

Advent Retreat part 1

From RevGals mini-Advent Retreat today...


For reflection:
You might like to consider where and why you protest about building a highway for God. Which hills need to become valleys...or which mountains are really molehills?
Listen again to the reassurance "Do not fear...Here is your God."
God is speaking into the situation of your greatest anxiety. Where your fear is most deeply seated, there God is already waiting.

I have been staring at the words: "Where your fear is most deeply seated, there God is already waiting."

My fears are wrapped up in my hopes for the future - not so much for today. Funny how that works. To accompany my reflection time, I had Christmas carols playing in the background (that is to say, real Christmas carols - not "Do You Hear What I Hear?" or other such pablum!) These words were sung as I was tussling over this...

O little town of Bethlehem, how still we see thee lie!
Above thy deep and dreamless sleep the silent stars go by.
Yet in thy dark streets shineth the everlasting Light;
The hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight.

and then the last verse...

O holy Child of Bethlehem, descend to us, we pray;
Cast out our sin, and enter in, be born in us today.
We hear the Christmas angels the great glad tidings tell;
O come to us, abide with us, our Lord Emmanuel!

That's really the antidote to any "fears" that plague my faith... knowing and believing that God-With-Us is really with us!


Abiding...
Deb

Virtual Retreat

There's a virtual Advent Retreat going on over at RevGalBlogPals today... Drop by! You'll be glad you did.

In between papers, homework and projects, I will try to take some time to reflect on the postings today. Hope you will, too!

Deb

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Henry thinks I need help...


SUCH a helper...

Henry is sleeping in a shoebox near my desk so that I have "inspiration" while I work on the end-of-semester stuff... What I really want to do is nap with him.

sigh...

NOPE! back to work!
Deb

Friday, November 28, 2008

Thanks, Dr. Kaiser!

I think Dr. Kaiser is amazing.

That's all..

Deb

I Yam what I Yam

Hat tip to Ruth (who, interestingly enough is a Tunafish Sandwich!)




You Are a Club Sandwich



You are have a big personality. It's hard for anyone to ignore you!

You dream big. You think big. And you eat big.

Some people consider you high maintenance, but you just know what you want... and when you want it.



Your best friend: The Tuna Fish Sandwich



Your mortal enemy: The Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich

Adding a link on the side-bar


If you haven't been there, do visit
The Brian Williams Tie Report Archives...

And they say there's nothing worth reading on the Internet... for shame...

Deb

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Self-editing


Several of you have emailed and asked if I'm "OK" -- the answer is, I am very much OK! In fact, I am probably in a better frame of mind, with a more realistic view of life and mission and vocation.

There's a million things on my mind I'd love to write about... and they are at my heart of hearts. And they have other people wrapped up in the story, were I to tell it. I don't feel like I can write with honestly and clarity about it at the moment. Other people may write to embarrass or make an example of others. I just can't be, well... that cheesy. I have to self-edit.

Here's my life summary at the moment: God's grace abounds, my family is well. Life is a little crazy.

I am under the gun to get a church history paper done on "The Early Church and the Ordination of Women." So if you'd pray for a minor miracle to happen so that I can get that puppy written (still very much in the outline stage) I would appreciate it.

While you're praying... pray for me as I begin the work of planning and preaching on "Hope" on December 28th. Pray that I will offer God's Word for God's people. I can't ask for anything more than that...

And as for the rest. Ah. God knows about that too. And when I'm on the other side of it, I imagine it'll blog...

Happy Thanksgiving, friends...

Deb

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Thankful for...


I'm thankful for so many things... it's hard to list them all.

As I was starting my list, I remembered a song from "A FEW" years ago written by Billy Crockett and Milton Brasher-Cunningham. I tried to find a YouTube with Billy singing it... but there were just wanna-bes trying to perform it. So I'll just post the lyrics...

The song is called "Thankful Boys and Girls"...

And I am... one thankful girl...

Happy Thanksgiving, friends...

Deb



let us be thankful boys and girls
for eyes and ears and toes and puppies with wet noses
for lessons we have learned and love we have not
earned
we follow the beat of amazing grace

o let us be thankful boys and girls


let us b
e thankful boys and girls
for kisses on the mouth and teenage heartbeats pounding

for lightning in the sky and laughter in the eye

we follow the beat of amazing grace

oh let us be thankful boys and girls


for all that brought us here and all that will see us through

the passageways of life that lead to you, lead us to you


let us be thankful boys and girls
for a little common sense and painted picket fences

when packing up the plans in rented moving vans

we follow the beat of amazing grace

oh let us be thankful boys and girls

let us be thankful boys and girls
for mendelssohn and brahms and shadows growing longer

for years that slowly go and grandkids we can hold
for memories to keep and sorrow running deep

we follow the beat of amazing grace

oh let us be thankful boys and girls


for all that brought us here and all that will see us through
the passageways of life that lead to you, lead us to you


let us be thankful boys and girls

when hope is not enough that death can’t bury love

for wine and bread and hymns remembering again

we follow the beat of amazing grace

oh let us be thankful boys and girls

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Heading to the HOLY LAND...

It'll be a quick trip -- but in 2 days I'll be here.... !!!!


Can't Wait!!!! GO BUCKS! O - H!

(now...I really need to get to bed and do more work on my papers tomorrow...)

Deb

Friday, November 14, 2008

couldn't resist

Yes I'm swamped. SWAMPED. But I had to post this. If you haven't seen it yet...

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Monday, November 10, 2008

It's a easy as...

It's as easy as... backing a trailer.

Recently I have been trying to be a writing coach and personal organizer to my progeny. The organizer part I can do. Well, sort of. The writing coach part, not so good. There's certain things that I do well, and seem to do them instinctively. How do you teach instinct? You don't.

Even if I give a step-by-step, there's really no substitute for experience, dang it. Practice makes perfect. Or may it should be "practice makes better rough drafts."

I just decided that this "writing" business is very much like backing a trailer. Anyone can do it, with enough practice, enough patience, and the right skill set.

It also helps if you know left from right... kinda like writing.

Yeah.

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

Deb

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Shared resource: The Lord's Prayer

Updated lyrics and chords with a simple five-note scale as written and led by Brian McLaren. Chords, wording, etc can be found here.




I'm not a very good guitarist (in fact, I'm a terrible one... mostly because of lack of practice!) but I think I could play this version on the piano.

Split theological hairs, if you like, over the wording and the changes... but I think it's usable and do-able. Oh yeah. And biblical.

Peace-
Deb

Friday, November 07, 2008

Apparently, I'm not who I thought I was...

Happy Birthday, Mr. President...

Here's my result for the "Mad Men-era Female Icon Quiz..."

You Are a Marilyn!

mm.marilyn_.jpg
You are a Marilyn -- "I am affectionate and skeptical."

Marilyns are responsible, trustworthy, and value loyalty to family, friends, groups, and causes. Their personalities range broadly from reserved and timid to outspoken and confrontational.

How to Get Along with Me
  • * Be direct and clear
  • * Listen to me carefully
  • * Don't judge me for my anxiety
  • * Work things through with me
  • * Reassure me that everything is OK between us
  • * Laugh and make jokes with me
  • * Gently push me toward new experiences
  • * Try not to overreact to my overreacting.
What I Like About Being a Marilyn
  • * being committed and faithful to family and friends
  • * being responsible and hardworking
  • * being compassionate toward others
  • * having intellect and wit
  • * being a nonconformist
  • * confronting danger bravely
  • * being direct and assertive
What's Hard About Being a Marilyn
  • * procrastinating because of fear of failure; having little confidence in myself
  • * fearing being abandoned or taken advantage of
  • * exhausting myself by worrying and scanning for danger
  • * wishing I had a rule book at work so I could do everything right
  • * being too critical of myself when I haven't lived up to my expectations
Marilyns as Children Often
  • * are anxious and hypervigilant; anticipate danger
  • * form a team of "us against them" with a best friend or parent
  • * look to groups or authorities to protect them and/or question authority and rebel
  • * are neglected or abused, come from unpredictable or alcoholic families, and/or take on the fearfulness of an overly anxious parent
Marilyns as Parents
  • * are sometimes reluctant to give their children independence
  • * worry more than most that their children will get hurt
  • * sometimes have trouble saying no and setting boundaries

Take Are You a Jackie or a Marilyn? Or Someone Else?
Mad Men-era Female Icon Quiz
at HelloQuizzy

Friday Five: The Funny Papers

Presbyterian Gal from RevGalBlogPals writes:
After an exhausting election here in the states it's time for some spirit lifting! Join me with a nice cup of tea or coffee or cocoa and let's sit back and read the Funny Papers!

1. What was your favorite comic strip as a child?
Probably Peanuts. "Big sisters are the crabgrass in the lawn of life."

2. Which comic strip today most consistently tickles your funny bone? Zits!!












3. Which Peanuts character is closest to being you?
Hmmmm.... Pigpen? no... not quite that messy.
Freida? no... I don't have naturally curly hair.
Lucy? well... I am a big sister. I think I'll go with Schroeder: I have a unique way at looking at life and I don't like dealing with people who don't grasp the greater things of life. And I've even played a little Beethoven in my time.


4. Some say that comic strips have replaced philosophy as a paying job, so to speak. Does this ring true with you?
Well, yes in some respects. They do spend a lot of time doing "deeper issues" than just sight gags. (so to speak.) I mean, think about it. The Washington Post runs three (THREE!) pages of comics every day. There's never that many Op Ed pages!


5. What do you think the appeal is for the really long running comic strips like Blondie, Family Circus, Dennis the Menace as some examples?
They are reflections of "life" from someone's perspective. I can't actually say that it's always mine. In fact, a lot of time, I don't read them.

Bonus question: Which discontinued comic strip would you like to see back in print?

Hands down. NO question! Calvin and Hobbes!!!

Deb

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Prayers for deliverance...

Hear my prayers for deliverance...


Lord, deliver my friend from evil...

You know the tender places of the heart which are bruised.

You know the anguished cry of the soul.

You count the tears and save them.

You are Protector, Healer and Champion
for the vulnerable, the wounded and the defeated.

Hear my cry...


Give my friend joy again.
And peace.
And the promise of an eternal YES! when earth ends... and heaven comes down.
Completely.
Finally.
When all is Yours...

AMEN.

quotable and keepable

[AP photo]

To those -- to those who would tear the world down: We will defeat you. To those who seek peace and security: We support you. And to all those who have wondered if America's beacon still burns as bright: Tonight we proved once more that the true strength of our nation comes not from the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals: democracy, liberty, opportunity and unyielding hope.

- Barak Obama, Grant Park, November 4, 2008


From David's Psalm:
Some trust in chariots and some in horses,
but we trust in the name of the LORD our God.
[Psalm 20:7]

Is it Wednesday already?

I watched history being made last night. It moved me to tears. Not that I want to pin all of my hopes on a political candidate, or even a political process. But because, in principle at least, there is a feeling of hope and promise that I have not heard on the political scene before.

In the 8 or so presidential elections I have voted in (I didn't stop to count, just did some rough math), this is the first time I've been optimistic. In previous elections, I was just reserved. "EH. I guess I'll vote for him. He's better than the other guy." This time was different. I felt like I had a choice.

I've talked with classmates and they were pretty set on one issue to decide their vote: "family values." I pointed out we don't live in a one-issue world. And that one issue will not determine economic growth, national security or environmental protection. I suggested that we are a "global family" and perhaps it is time to move off of the Reagan-era rhetoric, and start thinking beyond our backyards. That if we are going to limit family services, including pre-birth ones, that as a nation we have to deal with the results. That if we have families subsisting (barely) just above subsistence, that we have to think about how they will feed, clothe and educate their children past bare subsistence levels. And... as unattractive as this is, perhaps the Church needs to think more pro-actively about meeting the needs of those around Her.

I had naive imaginings that this could be a civil conversation. I'm smarter now. (And proud to be your sermon illustration of "what is wrong with..." LOL! )

Be angry if you must. Be frustrated if that helps. But don't sit on your whining morals and not be a part of the solution.

Because I already am.
Believing in a hope that come from God -- not politics!
Deb

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Here's encouraging news...

As part of the "bubble" of "older" Americans (gee THANKS!) I find it invigorating that I am not obsolete. I have a voice and life experience that are needed. After being told (more than once) that I need to let "younger voices" speak, and being ignored in favor of younger (male) voices, I find that I have the God-given capacity to reach unchurched people who are in a lifestage past lattes and before Centrum Silver.

It's encouraging.
It's challenging.
It's why I'm still in seminary.
It's why my voice will not be silenced.
It's why I am losing patience with the last bastions of decision-makers who are not affirming of diversity in the Body of Christ.
It's why I am thinking I need to learn Spanish...

Read more about it HERE!

Deb

You VOTED!


Vote furrr me... a tuna in every dish.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

What's Your Hurry?


John Ortberg in The Life You've Always Wanted talks about 'hurry sickness." He says it is what keeps us from enjoying the things God is doing for us now, and what makes us fill our lives with things and activities that are perhaps not necessary. He describes the internal competition to make it through the grocery line first, or picking the "fastest" lane on our morning commute, trying to get ahead by seconds. As if it really matters...

I plead guilty.

Today, I ran a few errands after I dropped Bearded Brewer at the airport. I planned out my time so that I wouldn't have too many errands between the airport and the girls' afternoon fencing club. And it was fine. I didn't rush. The sunshine was bright, the trees lovely. It was a definite "WOW, GOD!" kind of day.

On my way back to my car after one errand, taking my time to enjoy the loveliness of a perfect fall day, I heard a man talking to his son.... "Hurry! Hurry up! We've got to get a soccer ball and then water bottles and ice and be at the field in 20 minutes. C'mon! Hurry!" The boy was trying to put on his shoes as his dad harangued him.

I cringed.

I knew I had done that at least once (OK, maybe 20 times) to my kids. It was never a banner day when I did it. In fact, it usually made things worse!

So, with a silent prayer for an easy afternoon for the father and son, I headed home. And then it hit me... I'm in my own "HURRY UP" mode with God. I have been asking God about what's ahead for me; I've been wondering about where I will end up in full-time service, and it is one that is over a year away. I look so far forward, I don't see today. And yet I long to know...

It's as if I'm saying, "Hurry! Hurry up God! I want to know where I'll be so that I can get done everything I need to do before I get there! Hurry up, God!"

And I cringe again.

So for today.... I will stop asking. I will start trusting in God's Providence, In God's ordained place. And I will enjoy the good gifts God pours into my lap... right now...

Good gifts like...

Tiria at rest... something I called "poured cat"...



Henry demonstrating contentment in a bean bag chair...


Polgara wearing a lampshade...


All good gifts around us
Are sent from Heaven above

So thank the Lord,
Oh thank the Lord for all His love...


Deb