Monday, March 31, 2008

A Keeper of a Quote

Brennan Manning always gets to the bottom of it all... The quote which follows spoke volumes to me. As I'm writing my "Theology of Ministry Leadership" I just keep coming back to the realization that I have so much to learn and feel so incredibly inadequate for the task. And I know that's a good place to be.

So many times I know I make choices, as a leader or a ministry "worker bee," based on what other people would think. So many times I know there is a better choice that would honor God and be a loving response to the people around me. Sometimes... I get it right.

Manning reminds me why it is so easy to get caught in the wrong mindset and response.



It is one thing to feel loved by God when our life is together and all our support systems are in place. Then self-acceptance is easy.

...But what happens when life falls through the cracks? What happens when we sin and fail, when our dreams shatter, when our investments crash, when we are regarded with suspicion? What happens when we come face to face with the human condition?

When I relapsed, I had two options: yield once again to guilt, fear, and depression: or rush into the arms of my Heavenly Father - choose to live as a victim of my disease; or choose to trust in Abba's immutable love.

Brennan Manning: Abba's Child: The Cry of the Heart for Intimate Belonging

Friday, March 28, 2008

A Million Dollar Friday Five

Singing Owl from RevGalBlogPals writes:

Lingering effects of a cold have me watching more television than usual. There appears to be a resurgence of the old daytime staple--the quiz show. Except they are on during prime time, and a great many of them offer the chance of winning one million dollars.

I think it started with Regis Philbin and "Who Wants to be a Millionaire?" but now we have a half dozen or so.

My husband and I started musing (after watching "Deal or No Deal") about what we could do with a million dollars. I thought I'd just bring that discussion into the Friday Five this week. It's simple. What are five things you would want to do with a million dollar deposit in your bank account?

Oh, the mind boggles. Travel? Charity? Family? Church? Meeeeeee??? First I'd call Mike, our financial planner and say "HELP US!!!" Then, I'd change my phone number. In my heart, I'd like to be holy, but chances are I wouldn't be completely well behaved. The temptations to just blow it are incredible... but here goes...

1. Tithe: AH. Such a dirty word. But $10K goes to God. Period. Probably a lot of it would go locally to our church and then to organizations we already support.

2. Education: Each kid would get $20K into some kind of education fund. The Harpist is a junior in high school, so hers would need to be more liquid. Reedy Girl has 5 more years.

3. Travel: I've been to Europe numerous times. It's time to take the family and go. They, too, need a moment with God in a jacuzzi in the German Alps!!! Let's blow $20K there.

4. Home Improvements: We have some big ticket items we have not done that we need to do. Our kitchen, namely, and some landscaping to keep the driveway and front walk from sliding down the hill. So, that's an easy $20K. Which leaves me with...

5. Mad Money:
$10K for some domestic travel we've never done... Hawaii? The Grand Canyon? Colorado Rockies? The Corn Palace in Mitchell, South Dakota? (eh... no...)

Here's to dreams... and the money to fund them!


P.S. Yes - I can't add. Put a zero behind each one of those numbers. Then it will add up to a million.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

"Ken Lee"

Oh. My.

OK, first put down your coffee. Or Diet Coke. Or whatever. And swallow.

And then... watch this...



Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Oh Yeah... Bread Recipes

So I admitted on another blog that I bake bread...

If you want to vote for a recipe, click on my poll in the right column and I'll post the winner.

ANYTHING to help procrastinate and avoid the end-of-semester paper writing stress!!!


remind me why...

Please remind me why I want to do this seminary thing... because I am seriously struggling with any interest or desire to take any more classes...

Sometimes I wonder if those who teach at the graduate level are just getting some kind of twisted "payback" to the next generation of students, as in, "I had to suffer through this class, and so will you."

I guess it is a weird form of Spiritual Prune Juice. Or maybe Theological Cod Liver Oil. It's good for you, probably. It can't hurt you, in all likelihood. No one has ever decided you could still be a good pastor without it. Because in the end, it only produces so much.. uh.. "fertilizer!" (And NO - I won't tell you which class/classes are provoking this rant from me because all I need is for my rebellious, cynical remarks to get back to the prof/profs involved!!!)



Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Challenged by my cat

I have been tagged by one of our cats, Tiria. (I don't exactly know why I must do this, but she is threatening me with horrible things like midnight hairballs and yak in my slippers if I don't. So I am playing.)

Anyway, friends, it's time for THE MIDDLE NAME GAME!!

Here are the rules:

1. You have to post the rules before you give your answers.

2. You must list one fact about yourself beginning with each letter of your middle name. (If you don't have a middle name, use your maiden name or your mother's maiden name).

3. At the end of your blog post, you need to tag one person (or blogger of another species) for each letter of your middle name. (Be sure to leave them a comment telling them they've been tagged.)

My middle name is pretty cool: Grace. (Though I have to admit, as a kid, I hated it. Mostly because I was not graceful. I now understand the difference between being graceFUL and graceFILLED.) So here's my answers:

G is for Grateful. I was blessed with caring parents, a stable home growing up, everything I needed and most of my "wants." (But my parents never got me a horse. And really, Mom, it's OK.) I had opportunities to learn, to go places and see and do a variety of things, to get a college education. I was given cars -- more than one, in fact. And I married a guy who had many of the same set of blessings. We have two great kids and some pretty wonderful friends. NO, life ain't perfect... but it's good. It's ALL good.

R is for Reading. I love to read. I wish I could read stuff that I WANT to read!! Lately most of my reading has been books for my coursework. I am trying to read more stuff that doesn't require I answer questions, parse a Greek phrase or split theological hairs.

A is for Athletic. I'm not. The only sport I ever did decently in was volleyball. I like to swim, but I'm not a competitive swimmer.

C is for Camp Counselor. My first jobs were spent as a camp counselor. I did it all. The songs with silly motions. S'mores. Dealing with homesick kids. Creating "art" out of sticks, leaves and tempera paint. Hiking. Biking. Canoeing. Backpacking. Tying knots. Starting fires. Lashing. Macrame'. Teaching swimming lessons. It made me realize that I really, really did not want to be a teacher.

E is for Energetic. 'Tis true. I am.

OK, Now I tag...

I hereby make no threats and I promise not to come yak in your slippers if you choose not to play... but I hope you will anyway. And, if I didn't tag you and you want to play -- please DO!


Monday, March 24, 2008

Revenge of the Peep Snatchers

Only a few were brave enough to try it at Easter dinner yesterday... But, to mixed reviews I present...


Conclusion: weird, salty, sweet, crunchy and a smidge of goo.

I tried it... so you don't have to!


Oops - sorry - by request, here's the reciPEEP!

15 assorted Peeps
1/2 head of cabbage
1 package of ramen noodles (chicken flavor)
1/2 cup vegetable oil
3 Tbsp sugar
3 Tbsp red wine vinegar

1. coarsely chop the cabbage
2. crush ramen noodles
3. toss together the peeps, cabbage and noodles
4. mix ramen season packet, oil, sugar and vinegar together
5. pour over salad, toss evenly and serve

from Cooking with Peeps

(you think I am so demented I would MAKE this up???)

Saturday, March 22, 2008

may I just say...

May I just say...

I am working on our taxes.
I am trying to figure out how to pay for next semester's tuition.
The paperwork for the two is driving me crazy.

There is a reason I did not go into accounting.

gag me.


Friday, March 21, 2008

Friday Five: Five for Good Friday

RevHRod from RevGalBlogPals writes:

As a child the designation "good" for today confused me. How could we call such a somber day, good? Holy, yes. Blessed, yes. But, good?

As an adult I understand the meaning of good for this day. It is a solemn day of remembrance but it is also a time for us to stop and recall the great gift of love that we received this day. And that is most certainly good.

Our worship today will differ from place to place. Some services will focus on the great litany of prayers. Others will use the seven last words of Jesus. Some of us will walk the stations of the cross. Others will participate in a Tennebrae service of shadows and light.

I hope that this Friday Five will be a meaningful part of your Good Friday. God's blessings to you on your journey.

  1. Our prayer concerns are as varied as we are this day. For whom would you like us to pray? Please pray for my co-worker, Richard (he really does need that pill from Dr. McCoy.)
  2. Are there things you have done or will do today to help the young ones understand this important day in our lives? Mostly, we continue the conversation of life, reality, and Jesus. Our kids are not so "young" any more (16 and 12).
  3. Music plays an important part in sharing the story of this day. Is there a hymn or piece of music that you have found particularly meaningful to your celebrations of Good Friday? See my previous post... "On My Cross" reminds me that the sacrifice was for me, for the world, for the reconciliation of the Creator with the Creation.
  4. As you hear the passion narrative, is there a character that you particularly resonate with? Mary Magdalene. Forgiven much. Faithful in spite of fears and worries about what was happening to her Lord. And stayed and watched Him die with a faithful few when many of the men had left. (The picture with this post is of the sculpture by Donatello -- at the Duomo Museum in Florence.)
  5. Where have you seen the gracious God of love at work lately? In my own life... becoming more aware of His changing love within me. Now if I can just live it.
Below is part of Henri Nouwen's Good Friday prayer:

Dear Lord Jesus,

You, “the image of the unseen God, the first-born of all creation, for whom all things are created in heaven and on earth, everything visible and everything invisible,” you hang dead on a cross. You have just spoken your last words, “It is fulfilled,” and given up your spirit.


I look at your dead body on the cross. The soldiers, who have broken the legs of the two men crucified with you, do not break your legs, but one of them pierces your side with a lance, and immediately blood and water flow out. Your heart is broken, the heart that did not know hatred, revenge, resentment, jealousy or envy but only love, love so deep and so wide that it embraces your Father in heaven as well as all humanity in time and space. Your broken heart is the source of my salvation, the foundation of my hope, the cause of my love. It is the sacred place where all that was, is and ever shall be is held in unity. There all suffering has been suffered, all anguish lived, all loneliness endured, all abandonment felt and all agony cried out. There, human and divine love have kissed, and there God and all men and women of history are reconciled. All the tears of the human race have been cried there, all pain understood and all despair touched. Together with all people of all times, I look up to you whom they have pierced, and I gradually come to know what it means to be part of your body and your blood, what it means to be human.


As I look, my eyes begin to recognize the anguish and agony of all the people for whom you gave yourself. Your broken heart becomes the heart of all of humanity, the heart of all the world. You carry them all: abandoned children, rejected wives and husbands, broken families, the homeless, refugees, prisoners, the maimed and tortured, and the thousands, yes millions, who are unloved, forgotten and left alone to die. I see their emaciated bodies, their despairing faces, their anguished looks. I see them all there, where your body is pierced and your heart is ripped apart. O compassionate Lord, your heart is broken because of all the love that is not given or received.


Blood and water flowed from your broken heart. Lord Jesus, help me to understand this mystery. So much blood has flowed through the centuries: blood of people who did not even know why they were trampled underfoot, mutilated, tortured, slain, beheaded and left unburied; blood caused by swords, arrows, guns and bombs, tainting the faces of millions of people; blood that comes forth from angry, bitter, jealous, vengeful hearts, and from hearts that are set on hatred, violence and destruction. From the blood of Abel killed by his brother to the blood of the Jews, the Armenians, the Ukrainians, the Irish, the Iranians and Iraqis, the Palestinians, the South Africans and the countless nations and ethnic groups victimized by the evil intentions of their sisters and brothers in the human race, blood has been covering the earth, and cries have gone up to heaven: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken us?”


Let the blood and water that flow from your heart give me a new heart to live a new life. I know that in this world water and blood will never be separated. There will be peace and anguish, joy and tears, love and agony. They will be there always—together—leading me daily closer to you who give your heart to my heart.


Thursday, March 20, 2008

Good Friday: On My Cross

"On My Cross" by FFH

God sent Christ to be our sacrifice. Christ offered his life's blood, so that by faith in him we could come to God. And God did this to show that in the past he was right to be patient and forgive sinners. This also shows that God is right when he accepts people who have faith in Jesus.
[Romans 3:25-26 CEV]

face down

"Everything" by Lifehouse

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

More Peeps Links

There is entirely too much drama in life right now...

it is time for more PEEPS LINKS!

1. COOKING with Peeps for those who think properly ripened peeps are not good enough. Now you can have them grilled, poached, fried or baked. On in salads. Or in main dishes. Or in smoothies. (I think I now have my new recipe for Easter Dinner!!)

2. Peep S'mores -- but these are Cheater S'mores because they are done in the microwave.

3. Peeps in the movies takes that elementary school diorama to a whole new level.

4. Peeps Font to me is the ultimate illustration of... "I have too much time on my hands."

AND... finally...

5. Rock and Roll History as illustrated by peeps. You know you want to visit.

And when it's all said and done, I'll go get out my Drama Clean, wash out some mouths with soap, and be done with it.

Just sayin


Monday, March 17, 2008

Legacy, part deux

I have had this quote in my desk blotter for some time... and it is also in my gig notebook. Today I found out more about the author.

Father Mychal Judge was a chaplain in the NYFD. He heard about the attack on the Twin Towers on 9/11 and rushed to the scene to be... a chaplain and pastor, or, as he was called, "The Fireman's Friar."

I found out more about his story here and here. After reading about his life, the words of this prayer have a deeper meaning to me...

Take me where You want me to go
Let me meet who you want me to meet;
Tell me what You want me to say, and
Keep me out of Your way.
- Father Mychal Judge

That, my friends, is a legacy lived well...


Sunday, March 16, 2008


This is from a post for one of my classes. It seemed "bloggable" so here it is...

Nicole Nordeman wrote these words for her song, "Legacy":
I want to leave a legacy
How will they remember me?
Did I choose to love?
Did I point to You enough
to make a mark on things?
I want to leave an offering
A child of mercy and grace who
blessed your name unapologetically
And leave that kind of legacy

The first time I heard the song, I wept. The questions were right on with my life and my thoughts.

What four words best describe what you would hope to leave as your leadership legacy?
My four words would be: Passionate, Loving, Caring, Joyful

about people, about Jesus, about being a woman of God, wise and steeped in the Word

seeing and understanding people through the eyes of Jesus, not by seeing them with the outer "shell" that they live in and show themselves; loving the messy, the emo, the nagging, the grumpy – because they are image bearers of Jesus Christ

seeing what the person needs, or wants help with really; responding with intentionality and being "fully present".

life is worth living; life's moments are worth celebrating; laughter and "serious fun" make harder times move by with fewer bumps and bruises (though they will still exist); living with not happiness in mind, but a deep-rooted sense of "rightness" that God is "in" this event I am living through and relishing it!

Which ones are most in need of a new focus [in your life] to become a reality?
Probably the caring and joyful components. I have been in "overdrive" seeking to make some goals (educationally) and tend to just want to do MY THING with MY GOALS in mind. It's hard on everyone around me. It's hard on me. I don't want to live that way. I had to work through some really REALLY hard issues the last couple of weeks. None of them were life-threatening, world-erupting issues. Most of them issues were messy, grumpy people issues. (This made me a grumpy, messy person at home last week. Yuck.) I spent a lot of time yesterday in prayer and reflection over where I was NOT in line with God' agenda for me. It was hard.

God is gracious because He either changed circumstances so that my decisions were either "OK" or not a crisis because I made the "right" decision. But it was how I made them. It was not with an attitude of grace, but with one of judgment and just a smidge (or a double-portion) of self-righteousness. I thought of the lessons we gleaned in study group from "Amazing Grace" and the Gospels and had to confess to the Lord that I was not being a servant, but self-serving.

One of my friends once suggested that if we Christians looked more like the fruit of the Spirit instead of the seven dwarves, we would be more attractive to our world. (Point of fact, I am more often grumpy, sleepy, dopey and so on than I would like to admit.)

I still wrestle with esteem issues which I know are Satan's main attack. It has been difficult, but necessary, to continually let God's Spirit prick my heart when I react badly to situations (or people) which either assume I had the wrong motives, or who are out to press their point and attack. It's all I can do to not respond in kind or to be defensive. I realized as I was reflecting on our prayer retreat yesterday that the times when I fail, I am NOT being caring and joyful... (and I might not also be loving, though it might be someone I can love and not respond to well.)

One step at a time… I am learning.


Thursday, March 13, 2008

Friday Five: Time for Palms

Mother Laura of RevGals writes...

Can you believe Daylight Savings Time is here already? It's hard to get used to the new, earlier onset. My family has been getting up and out a little late and a little sleepy in the mornings.

And can you believe that in two days it will be Palm Sunday for Western Christians? Our Lent is almost over, while our Orthodox sisters and brothers, whose liturgical year follows the older Julian calendar, are just starting theirs. Nicholas did a recent book report on George Washington, and we were surprised to find out that our first President's birthday was originally Feb. 11, since he was born just before the change to the Gregorian calendar. Apparently the change almost caused rioting, as some indignant people were sure that they were being cheated out of eleven days of their lives!
To help you adjust--and enjoy the process--here's a Friday Five about time and transitions....

1. If you could travel to any historical time period, which would it be, and why?
This is a hard one. It's hard to get excited about going backwards in time when women had FEWER rights... I mean, really. I guess I would like to have been living around the time of the suffragettes. If I could pick the people. I'd like to be one of Susan B. Anthony's best friends. I figure with my temperament and dreams, I'd fit right in.

2. What futuristic/science fiction development would you most like to see?
This is for my friend, Richard... From Star Trek IV: "Doctor gave me a pill and I grew a new kidney!" (Still praying and believing!!)

3. Which do you enjoy more: remembering the past, or dreaming for the future?
I am definitely in future mode!

4. What do you find most memorable about this year's Lent?
Um? Not really "practicing" liturgical seasons, so I don't have an answer...

5. How will you spend your time during this upcoming Holy Week? What part do you look forward to most?
Recovering from a prayer retreat that I am helping to plan... then working on classwork, trying to get ahead so that I can enjoy the week following Easter with my family who have vacation!! For a change, I do not have music responsibilities for Easter Sunday, the first time in a LONG time. That means I can just sing? and worship? Wow... what will I do??

A joyous, God-filled Holy Week to each of you...


Wednesday, March 12, 2008

From the sublime to the ridiculous...

OK, Deb's back to normal. No more poetry.

It's time for the annual Parade of Peeps links before Holy Week starts.

First, you need to go read up on the latest Peep Research. This is serious stuff. Really. For instance, did you know that smoking and alcohol kills Peeps?

Then, you need to go visit here and play some Peeps In Space flash video games. You have your choice of Peep Invaders or Peepsteroids.

If you are still in the mood for poetry, check out Peep Haiku!

And, since the 2008 Peep Diorama contest from the Post isn't due out until Sunday, you can enjoy 2007's HERE!

Finally, I bet you did not know that there is a way to tell if Peeps are ripe and ready to eat... Yes, my friends there is such a thing as PEEPiQUETTE. Mindy knows!!

I'll be back to normal soon... whatever that is...


Tuesday, March 11, 2008

from my heart...

musing at twilight

i stand and i watch
and wait
and weep
and wonder

why now?
why not later?
why not never?

i stand and i pray
and dream
and ask
and ponder

then when?
and where?
and could i ever?

footprints ahead
and beside
and behind
scattered in seemingly purposelessness
and aligned in purposefulness

God knows
God sees
God redesigns

the waves
come crashing on and on
higher and higher on the sand
tomorrow starts new

no blots
no mistakes
no pain
(except what i bring to it
and God allows)

still makes no sense
the whys
the worries
the wonder

God's love is bigger
overswells me
but does not overwhelm me

and for this night
this twilight prayer
that is more than enough
to break the dawn

Deb Vaughn
March 5, 2008

Monday, March 10, 2008


Sometimes, you don't have to make these things up... Check this out!

This was sent to me by another seminarian...

And here I thought studying and prayer was how you came up with sermons... silly me. Apparently you just need to park in the right spot.


Retro Nite - the plan B

Retro Nite required a Plan B.

The dress
(a) stunk like mildew -- which I could not bleach and get out
(b) was 100% polyester double-knit (can you say HOT FLASH??) and
(c) made me look like a large, walking pile of psychedelic vomit.
And of course I found this out the afternoon of the event, since the dress came while I was away at school.

Never fear. I am an intern. I can improvise.

The Harpist had a tie-dyed shirt. Reedy Girl had beads. I had scissors, and accessories courtesy of WalMart (which I had purchased to go with the aforementioned dress.)

My beloved had a dashiki from his middle school days, so he was set. (Can we talk about men being able to wear clothes from their middle school days, and why women can't?? I mean, is this FAIR???)

SO here's our FAB look...

We shook our groove thang and had a blast. Oh, yes, here's a photo of me with my co-workers. (We didn't dress like this for Sunday... though we thought about it.) Do note the "Charlie's Angel's poses!!

I love my church! And I work with some great, crazy (or is that crazed??) people!


Thursday, March 06, 2008

Friday Five: Signs of Hope, Signs of Spring

Sally from RevGals writes:

It has been a difficult week here in Dowham Market, and yet in the sadness there have been signs of real hope, young people, often criticised have shown us how caring and amazing they are. It has also been a strange week; it snowed for almost the first time this winter, and yet many of the spring bulbs are blooming, and the trees are blossoming!

I believe that if we look carefully we can see signs of hope all around us.... as for signs of spring... well you tell me....

Bluebells in my garden, before the snow!

What have you seen/ heard this week that was a:
1. Sign of hope?

The voice of God at the beach this week.

2. An unexpected word of light in a dark place?

Being encouraged towards setting a date for my ordination by some fellow seminarians, both men and women, and this is particularly encouraging because there are male students who are far from that persuasion. I have greatly enjoyed my "small group" for reflection and processing this week. (Jennifer, Crystal, Allison, Durante and Ken -- you rock!)

3. A sign of spring?

A tree FULL of robins, chirping and singing up a storm! And beds of daffodils in full bloom. (The signs of the season are a few weeks ahead here in Teh Hole-ee Lande of Seminary.)

4. Challenging/ surprising?

I had to write out a "Spiritual Formation Map" as part of a Leadership Seminar/Class. Events that I had not remembered for a long time came to the surface in a time of focused prayer and contemplation. It was quite a remarkable process.

5. Share a hope for the coming week/month/year....

I think I am closer to "naming the date" that I finalize my ordination. It's a different process than many take because I will be ordained through my church (not a governing body). But it is, nonetheless, an important step in walking into the Call God has on my life.

Bonus play... a piece of music/ poem guaranteed to cheer you?
It has to be Daniel Powter's "Bad Day"

Here's to hope... and spring...

Dumber than a 4th grader

I know that I'm old school but this is ridiculous.

Apparently there are 11 planets in our solar system (or, if you wish to be technical, 8 planets and 3 dwarf planets.) OK, so I am not a person with a bend towards science. But I thought I had a handle on a few facts for this end of the galaxy.



Wednesday, March 05, 2008

A Time Out...

It's Modular Week here in Teh Hole-ee Lande. Intense personal scrutiny and reflective writing, comraderie with some amazingly talented people, hard work, late night typing sessions, burying oneself in the library stacks, article searching... and discussions which, at least this time around, are actually seeming to be practical and maybe even useful some day.

But first....


squish toes in sand.
watch seagulls.

Turabian can wait.
Spiritual formation reflective writing can wait.
Synthesis papers can wait.
Powerpoint presentations can wait.
Writing summaries and evaluations can wait.
Book reports can wait.

God's at the beach.
Had to meet for a chat.

And it's ALL good...


P.S. Yes... I was there... here's proof!

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Resting... and yet not.

I knew this week's schedule would be draining. I am not even at the halfway point of a busy weekend and I am so tired and drained. But at the same time, I have a renewed sense of who I am, and what God wants of me.

Do I have huge neon signs saying "go ye this way..."

Oh no!!

But I am feeling comfort in God's Presence in my life. I am reminded that the time of "fallow ground" as Renita Weems calls it, is not "barren ground." My time of preparation is the time that I am blessed to have. Part of me is resting and doing "nothing" at all, while everything under the surface prepares to burst out in growth. And in the waiting... there is tiredness. And fears, sometimes. And many moments of anticipation and wonder. (I guess the best phrase that expresses it all is, "who... ME???")

It's scary. It's humbling. It's freeing and petrifying, all at the same time.

I can do nothing more than pour myself back into the Presence... and declare that all I am is God's. All of it.

So be it...


Into your hand
I commit again
all I am for You, Lord

You hold my world
in the Palm of Your Hand
and I'm yours forever

Jesus, I believe in you
Jesus, I belong to you
You're the reason that I live
the reason that I sing
with all I am

I'll walk with You
wherever You go
through tears and joy
I'll trust in You

And I will live
in all of Your ways and
Your promises forever..

I will worship
I will worship You forever

Words and Music by Reuben Morgan