Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Quiet Days, Celebratory Nights



This week is vacation week. We are hanging out with family, reading, doing some shopping and baking, and watching lots of football. Among the things I'm not doing:
- writing papers
- reading professional journals or books
- answering emails from people at home (no offense to my friends, because I am Spacehooking a bit...)

Even though it's cold and windy, the sun is shining and I am reveling in the birdwatching and "doing nothing" agenda for today.


Across the lonely beach we flit,
One little sandpiper and I,

And fast I gather, but by bit,

The scattered drift-wood, bleached and dry.

The wild waves reach their hands for it,

The wild wind raves, the tide runs high,

As up and down the beach we flit,
One little sandpiper and I.

-Celia Thaxter


Sunday, December 27, 2009

Ahhhhhhhhh.....



It's kind of a visual cleansing breath, isn't it?

Friday, December 25, 2009

Hallelujah...

MERRY CHRISTMAS!



Verse 1
It's still a mystery to me
That the hands of God could be so small,
How tiny fingers reaching in the night
Were the very hands that measured the sky

Chorus
Hallelujah, hallelujah
Heaven's love reaching down to save the world
Hallelujah, hallelujah
Son of God, Servant King,
You're here with us
You're here with us

Verse 2
It's still a mystery to me, oh,
How His infant eyes have seen the dawn of time
How His ears have heard an angel's symphony,
But still Mary had to rock her Savior to sleep

Chorus
Hallelujah, hallelujah
Heaven's love reaching down to save the world
Hallelujah, hallelujah
Son of God, Servant King
Here with us
You're here with us
(Ohh, mmm, here with us)

Bridge
Jesus the Christ, born in Bethlehem
A baby born to save, to save the souls of man

Chorus (2x)
Hallelujah, hallelujah
Heaven's love reaching down to save the world
Hallelujah, hallelujah
Son of God, Servant King
You're here with us
You're here with us

Thursday, December 24, 2009

From one Advent to the next...




Love divine, all loves excelling,
Joy of heaven to earth come down;
Fix in us thy humble dwelling;
All thy faithful mercies crown!
Jesus, Thou art all compassion,
Pure unbounded love Thou art;
Visit us with Thy salvation;
Enter every trembling heart.

Breathe, O breathe Thy loving Spirit,
Into every troubled breast!
Let us all in Thee inherit;
Let us find that second rest.
Take away our bent to sinning;
Alpha and Omega be;
End of faith, as its Beginning,
Set our hearts at liberty.

Come, Almighty to deliver,
Let us all Thy life receive;
Suddenly return and never,
Never more Thy temples leave.
Thee we would be always blessing,
Serve Thee as Thy hosts above,
Pray and praise Thee without ceasing,
Glory in Thy perfect love.

Finish, then, Thy new creation;
Pure and spotless let us be.
Let us see Thy great salvation
Perfectly restored in Thee;
Changed from glory into glory,
Till in heaven we take our place,
Till we cast our crowns before Thee,
Lost in wonder, love, and praise.

Words: Charles Wesley

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Dug out and running around...

We did indeed have over 18 inches of snow. Our best guess is that our snow depth was about 20 inches. For here in suburban Maryland, that's just paralyzing. Our street never did get plowed! It was only because a neighbor had connections to a friend with a snowplow on his truck that we are able to slide down the hill.

Here's a few photos of the beauty...


I'm already tired of the shoveling and it was only about 8 or 9 inches deep...



The mailman never made it. The newspapers did!


Cold tree. Warm lights...

Cool shot across the street... (taken by Reedy Girl.)

Papa Fir Tree with a blanket.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Friday Five: Christmas Traditions

Jan at RevGalBlogPals writes:

Christmas traditions vary from family to family and from regions afar. I've been pleased that my oldest son's wife AA loves to be with our family for Christmas, though I don't think we do anything out of the ordinary. It helps that DC has one brother and two sisters to liven up our home.

Since I finally decorated the Christmas tree and have started baking Christmas cookies, I am thinking of Christmas only being one week away.

So for this Friday Five, tell us five things about the traditions in your family. Think of...

1. Traditions you always do...
A tree, stockings from "Santa," an Advent wreath, pretty tablecloths and linens, presents under the tree, and putting up creches.

We never really pushed the "Santa" story, but used it as an opportunity to teach doing things for each other. Our stockings have things in them that are fun and useful, silly and imaginative. Our creches are from various places. One is from Bearded Brewer's grandmother. Another is made of olive wood from Bethlehem, and there are also animals from Africa and India represented. There are many German decorations (arches, painted wooden ornaments and pyramids), and music boxes. And there are a lot of things for cats to knock over.


King Henry with part of the creche. He brought "purrrs."

2. Traditions you always cook or eat...
Gazillions of Christmas cookies (usually at least one batch of sugar cookies), chocolate in many ways, peppermint and some kind of good meal on Christmas Day. It depends where we are what it is (if we are at the beach, it's seafood!)

3. Traditions you would like to start...
Reading the Christmas story together.

4. traditions you would like to discard...
Well, since I am not going to get to them this year, Christmas cards. I guess I will do some kind of eCard.

Reedy Girl and I doing "quality control" on cookies...

5. anything about your family Christmases... Bearded Brewer and I give to some organization as our Christmas gift to our extended family. Depending on the year, we choose an organization we want to support. We have given to Amani Ya Juu, The Heifer Project, International Christian Concern, The Salvation Army, and various relief projects with the Mennonite Central Committee. It's never a lot of money, but we know it is the gift that "always fits" and it is something of a legacy from our parents, who taught us to care about the less fortunate.


As time goes by, I am becoming more of a realist. Things that get done, get done. Things that don't -- well, they don't. As I type this, we are beginning a major snowstorm for our area. (Of course anything more than 6 inches is "major" around here!!) I was supposed to preach a student sermon tomorrow. Unless we travel by dogsled, it won't happen. So we will enjoy some time as a family and celebrate this season of Light and Hope and Joy and Peace...

And I pray that each of you finds these things too -- in Jesus, The Christ Child.

Deb

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Stables


I have come to really love this song...

Stables by Peter Mayer
From the album "Midwinter"

In Bethlehem a manger waits
Long ago and so today
Where hatred-weary people pray
Love will come and lay there

And so do countless stables stand
In hearts as harsh as desert lands
Rough shelters in the wind and sand
That love may come and stay there

Love that opens fists of hate
Heaps up gold on beggars’ plates
Love that shows a kindly face
To enemies and strangers

And the walls of stables tremble so
When the winds of fear and judgment blow
For a stable hopes in love alone
And knows that love’s the answer

O Love, the prophet’s only word
The only lesson left to learn
The only end of heaven’s work
And the only road that goes there

Love that sees with mercy’s eyes
Holds its arms out open wide
Threads its loom with separate lives
And weaves them all together

So may the lamps of stables glow
Brightly that their light may go
For miles in the darkness, so
Love will find its way there

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

A Milestone...

(Reedy Girl is on the left)

First high school concert for Reedy Girl... In the pre-concert chaos, I snagged one "mama-razzi" picture. She did very well and had a small solo. And I behaved and didn't embarrass her with overt photographic moments.

A milestone to celebrate!

Deb

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

God's Presence this Christmas...

My devotional readings are in The Ragamuffin Gospel and Watch for the Light this season. This quote in Ragamuffin spoke to my heart as I prayed for a heart that more clearly hears and sees God at work this Advent.

For what we need to know, of course, is not just that God exists, not just that beyond the steely brightness of the stars there is a cosmic intelligence of some kind that keeps the whole show going, but that there is a God right here in the thick of our day-by-day lives who may not be writing messages about himself in the stars but in one way or another is trying to get message through our blindness as we move around down here knee-deep in the fragrant muck and misery and marvel of the world. It is not objective proof of God’s existence that we want but the experience of God’s presence. That is the miracle we are really after, and that is also, I think the miracle that we really get.


from Frederick Buechner's The Magnificent Defeat (quoted in The Ragamuffin Gospel


If I were to get it into words, I don't think I could have said it any better. "The best gift is His Presence..."




How silently, how silently
The wondrous Gift is giv'n!
So God imparts to human hearts
The blessings of His heav'n.
No ear may his His coming,
But in this world of sin,
Where meek souls will receive Him still,
The dear Christ enters in.
Phillips Brooks - O Little Town of Bethehem

Sunday, December 06, 2009

The fourth king...

King Henry, that is! He brought the gift of purrrss....



Saturday, December 05, 2009

Friday Five: Do-Nothing Edition

Sally from RevGals writes: List five things you won't be doing to prepare for Christmas.

1) Attending more than one Christmas concert at school since The Johnnie has graduated, and only Reedy Girl has a concert this month.
2) Perform in a Christmas concert or service this month. My schedule doesn't permit participating in Christmas Eve this year. It's really OK.
3) Giving in a gift exchange, white elephant or otherwise. (Hallelujah!)
4) Traveling down to The Mall in DC to see Christmas lights. (I've done it the last four years in a row; I'm exempt this year!)
5) Sending Christmas cards. I'm emailing, blogging and that's all folks.

Back to writing... and when I have brain-power, more blogging too...

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Advent Thoughts... Day 4

I'm not promising to blog every day this month, but I am doing readings in a book that I haven't read consistently at Advent in some time. It's titled Watch for the Light and is a collection of readings from many of my favorite authors. (It's on Amazon and while you're there you might like the Lent and Easter version titled Bread and Wine.

Today's reading featured a translation of a hymn penned by St. Thomas Aquinas:

Light of lights! All gloom dispelling,
Thou didst come to make thy dwelling
Here within our world of sight.
Lord, in pity and in power,
Thou didst in our darkest hour
Rend the clouds and show thy light.

Praise to thee in earth and heaven
Now and evermore be given,
Christ, who art our sun and shield.
Lord, for us thy life thou gavest,
Those who trust in thee thou savest,
All thy mercy stands revealed.

I had never connected this hymn to Acquinas. But as the days get darker and colder (particularly in the morning) the seasonal change back to the light is a mighty word picture of me of the dawning promises of God.

Yes. Today can be dark. For us as a family, there are some difficult decisions and work to be done. And later this week, we will have the graveside committal from the BCP for our life-long Episcopalian mom, mother-in-law and grandmother. And it was with a smile and joy that I read this reference to her present experience of the light...

Into thy hands, O merciful Savior,
we commend thy servant Marie.
Acknowledge, we humbly beseech thee,
A sheep of thine own fold,
A lamb of thine own flock,
A sinner of thine own redeeming.
Receive her into the arms of thy mercy,
into the blessed rest of everlasting peace,
and into the glorious company of the saints in LIGHT.
Amen.

And so be it.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Advent Thoughts...

It seems to me that one of the biggest blessings and promises contained within the coming of Christ is comfort.

Not "comfort" like my fluffy slippers or my wuzzly bathrobe and favorite coffee mug... though my family will tell you I do enjoy them.

"Comfort" in the sense of someone who is worn, spent, hurting and in need of measures of grace -- that place of desolation and pain where you need consoling and restoring.

And God alone does that.

So when this song played on my "shuffle" mode this afternoon, I thought it completely Providential...

Clear words of comfort -- to God's tired, worn-down, sometimes rebellious, often confused, hurting, wondering, wandering, hoping, forgetful, longing, struggling, believing, but most of all HOPING people.

And that would definitely describe me...

God is so good...





Let ev'ry heart prepare him room...

Advent begins with a list of chores, wishes and lists... but it really should begin with a prayer of thanks and meditation on the goodness of God to send a Savior.

We move into the darkest part of the year to see the brightest Hope of the nations. As I told my kids, it doesn't really matter if December 25th was the ACTUAL day of Jesus' birth. The fact is - he was born, lived and died for us. And for that I am thankful...

Charles Wesley's hymn is on my mind this morning:

Come, O Long-Expected Jesus
By: Charles Wesley

Come, O long-expected Jesus,
Born to set your people free;
From our fears and sins release us
By your death on Calvary.
Israel's strength and consolation,
Hope to all the earth impart,
dear desire of ev'ry nation,
Joy of ev'ry longing heart.

Born your people to deliver,
Born a child and yet a king;
Born to reign in us forever,
Now your gracious kingdom bring.
By your own eternal Spirit
Rule in all our hearts alone;
By your all-sufficient merit
Raise us to your glorious throne.


I pray I will continue to have a "longing heart" for the return of our Reigning King...

Deb

Sunday, November 29, 2009

First Candle...

We lit the first candle on our advent wreath at lunch today. It's a sign of the Advent season for me - a reminder that the seasons fly by, and we've made another circle around the sun.

We usually sing the same song as the candles burn...

O Come O Come, Emmanuel
and ransom captive Israel
that mourns in lowly exile here
until the Son of God appears.
Rejoice! Rejoice!
Emmanuel shall come to thee,
O Israel.

It was good to begin this season with some hope and the promise that God will bring to our world, one day. Looking forward to the second Advent, celebrating the first.

Today we delivered The Johnnie to her ride back to campus... it was hard to see her go. We needed each other this weekend. We needed to be reminded of the love between us and the importance of LIFE -- even in the sucky times.

(We also had a great laugh... Apparently The Johnnie, when she was little, didn't hear the words right to our Advent wreath plainsong. She thought it was "that mourns in lonely eggs aisle here"... and was confused. She couldn't figure out why it was "lonely" in the "eggs aisle" of the grocery store...)

Reedy Girl and I put up the outdoor Christmas lights and that, too, was a celebration of life and light...

I'm just so thankful...

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Today...

...had exercise, baking, driving lessons, bike riding lessons, shopping, packing, laundry, and homework.

In other words, we really didn't do much of the tasks that are waiting us at Mom V's home. But it's OK. It's kind of a mini-vacation from all that is ahead. (Actually, since it is a holiday weekend, the rector of her church isn't available by phone, and we're waiting for the business office of the nursing home to open on Monday...)

The Johnnie goes back to school tomorrow, and Reedy Girl back to classes on Monday... I already wish this weekend had an extra day in it...

sigh...

Friday, November 27, 2009

Released...

Mom V was released last night... she passed away about 9 p.m. shortly after we left from seeing her after dinner.

There's blessed relief and grief all rolled into one.

The Lord gives and the Lord takes away.
Blessed be the Name of the Lord...

Thursday, November 26, 2009

A day of mixed feelings...


I am about to start the preparation for Thanksgiving Dinner...

It's hard to believe that a month ago it was a very different set of plans that included friends from church, family and football.

Today we will sandwich in (no pun intended!) the meal with a visit to the nursing home to see how my mother-in-law is doing. We'll hang with our kids and watch something from Netflix or maybe play a game... but emotionally and mentally, we're really not up for more than that.

We have offers to visit folks, hang out, "be family" -- but the truth is, we're waiting for a phone call or to have a visit that seems like it will be our last.

Yet in the middle of this waiting... there is laughter, and there is a lot of love. I am a fortunate woman...

For instance, this morning, Bearded Brewer woke up with this song on his mind...

Joy to the world!
All the boys and girls!
Joy to the fishes in the deep blue sea!
Joy to you and me!

And now that song is stuck in MY mind!!! (and maybe yours???)

But in a Providential way, that song is true. So much of life is JOY. JOY for the little things that God steeps us in and that we can celebrate. I realized that I spend a lot of time waiting for the next "thing" to happen. Today I am going to try and live life fully aware of the blessings that surround me. I'm not "waiting" on anything except the next moment God directs into my life...

20 We wait in hope for the LORD;
he is our help and our shield.

21 In him our hearts rejoice,
for we trust in his holy name.

22 May your unfailing love be with us, LORD,
even as we put our hope in you.

- from Psalm 33


I truly hope you all have a blessed, joyous Thanksgiving!

Deb

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Today...

- all of my family is home!
I retrieved The Johnnie from her dorm this morning, and Reedy Girl is finished with her high school classes as of lunchtime.
Bearded Brewer is scheduled off for two days (Wednesday-Thursday) and we will enjoy some down time together. What will it be? A rousing game of Apples 2 Apples or Mexican train???

- we have worked through some of our impasse with the nursing home regarding hospice for my mother-in-law
While there are some things we are not happy about (i.e. having to nag them to keep her pain at bay) they have been responsive and have taken the time to at least listen to our concerns. We'd prefer she could be enrolled in hospice, but the state bean counters and their holy "Certificate of Need" seem to make it impossible to provide an individual with services as requested. So until there's a bed... she's being watched with many kind hearts and gentle hands...

- we are full of grace and peace
Yesterday Ruth came up and led the four of us (Bearded Brewer, MIL and me) in a Rite II Eucharist. There are such comforting words in the liturgy. Though she could not speak, she was clearly following. I am grateful for the gift of grace in the Bread and Cup, and for a servant-hearted friend like Ruth. God's Presence has been touching mine all day. It's a gracious gift.

Wherever you are - may you have that same sense of God's Presence.

Blessed Thanksgiving to you!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

A living prayer




In this world I walk alone
With no place to call my home
But there's one who holds my hand
The rugged road through barren lands
The way is dark, the road is steep
But He's become my eyes to see
The strength to climb, my griefs to bear
The Savior lives inside me there

In Your love I find release
A haven from my unbelief
Take my life and let me be
A living prayer, my God to Thee

In these trials of life I find
Another voice inside my mind
He comforts me and bids me live
Inside the love the Father gives

In Your love I find release
A haven from my unbelief
Take my life and let me be
A living prayer, my God to Thee

Take my life and let me be
A living prayer, my God to Thee

today's list...

- Bearded Brewer's suit to the dry cleaners
- buy eggs so that Reedy Girl can bake (don't ask how old the eggs are in my fridge.)
- maybe get The Johnnie from campus - maybe do that tomorrow
- get music and CDs for Mom V's room to block the hall noise in the nursing home (it is NOT restful!)
- have a prayer and communion with Bearded Brewer, Ruth C and Mom V - she is coming to do a special prayer and Eucharist (she has the OLD BCP thankyouverymuch) which Mom V will appreciate hearing, even if she is now basically nonverbal
- do other chauffeuring and household chores...
- love on my family...
- cry

I have already...
- burned a pot on the stove
- washed a load of towels for the 3rd time since they never made it to the dryer - again!!
- lost my keys (and found them)
- have soup in the crockpot and bread in the bread machine for dinner...

Sunday, November 22, 2009

countdowns...


Two stickies off the timeline... six to go. Life is not predictable, so I'm wondering if they will all get done. And if they don't, they don't.

I may get my first "B" in seminary this semester.

And I don't care.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

This is my post today...

All that's left for this semester...


- Greek translation and quiz - 11/21
- 15 page paper on Dinah - 11/22
- sermon taping - 11/27
- Greek translation and quiz - 11/28
- Book reports - 4 preaching books - 12/5
- exegetical outline - 12/6
- Greek final - 12/11
- Old Testament final (Pentateuch and historical books) - 12/11

I'm tired... but moving forward by grace alone...

Friday, November 20, 2009

Thanksgiving Friday Five

Jan from RevGalBlogPals introduces our Friday Five with some poetry:

The Cure

Lying around all day
with some strange new deep blue
weekend funk, I'm not really asleep
when my sister calls
to say she's just hung up
from talking with Aunt Bertha
who is 89 and ill but managing
to take care of Uncle Frank
who is completely bed ridden.
Aunt Bert says
it's snowing there in Arkansas,
on Catfish Lane, and she hasn't been
able to walk out to their mailbox.
She's been suffering
from a bad case of the mulleygrubs.
The cure for the mulleygrubs,
she tells my sister,
is to get up and bake a cake.
If that doesn't do it, put on a red dress.

--Ginger Andrews (from Hurricane Sisters)

So this Friday before Thanksgiving, think about Aunt Bert and how she'll celebrate Thanksgiving! And how about YOU?


1. What is your cure for the "mulleygrubs"?
A chat and a coffee or meal with good friends, or a good book and a comfy couch... with chocolate.


2. Where will you be for Thanksgiving?
That's still up in the air. Will be here on the home front, but I will either fix dinner and serve it at my mother-in-law's apartment, or have it here at home without her. It depends on if she is feeling up to traveling via wheelchair across the campus to her old digs.


3. What foods will be served? Which are traditional for your family?
Because of the nature of our life and our family news, I opted to get a pre-made dinner from Whole Foods. A turkey dinner with all of the trimmings. Cost a truckload of money, but it was the only option that made sense.

4. How do you feel about Thanksgiving as a holiday?
I think it is important to stop and be thankful. And watch football. LOTS of football!

5. In this season of Thanksgiving, what are you grateful for?
My wonderful husband, Bearded Brewer. Our amazing girls, The Johnnie and Reedy Girl. Family, scattered between Oregon, Ohio and North Carolina. Friends, around the world and here in the DC area. Fellow students and professors at Whoopin Divinity who challenge me and remind me to keep expecting God to show up. Cats. Chocolate and coffee (sometimes together). Health. A safe and healthy place to live. The right to worship freely. A computer and teh intewebs so that I can keep in touch with cyber-family. RevGals!! Teh Clooney because he's just so hawttt! Apples. My "wicked good" slippers. Our waterbed. And laughter. God is good.

I might post on Aunt Bert's Thanksgiving later... right now I have to grab a shower and start back to work on my paper...

Deb

P.S. Anyone else remember the old Keith Green song?

I will give thanks to the Lord
With all my heart
I will tell of all Thy wonders
I will be glad and exult in Thee

I will trust in you my God
Who delivered me
And lifted me from the gates of death
I will be glad and exult in Thee

I will give thanks to the Lord
With all my heart
I will tell of all Thy wonders
I will be glad and exult in Thee

I will tell of all Thy wonders
I will be glad and exult in Thee

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Ragamuffin thoughts

He changes times and seasons...
[Daniel 2:21a]


Recently I've been reading The Ragamuffin Gospel by Brennan Manning. It's a favorite read and every time I pick it up there's something new and refreshing for my soul.

Last night I was reading the chapter "Cormorants and Kittiwakes." Simply put, it is a chapter of rediscovering the wonder of the Creator and Creation. Of actually walking through leaves instead of sanitizing your yard and raking and bagging them. Of watching the rain fall instead of dashing through it. Of noticing the pattern of sunlight and shade, of the rising and setting sun.

Writes Manning:
"We fail to be stretched by the magnificence of the world saturated with grace. Creation doesn't calm our troubled spirits, restore our perspective, or delight us in every part of our being. It remidns us instead of mundane chores: changing the page on teh calendar or ordering our snow tires. We must rediscover the gospel fo grace and the world of grace.

"For 'the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love and God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit' opens us to the divine spread everywhere about us, especially in the life of a loving person."
(The Ragamuffin Gospel by Brennan Manning, page 93.)

To be open to God's love means that we are replenished. To be open to the wonder and majesty again means that we relinquish creative control. And to be open to loving others means that sometimes we are hurt, but always, we are to love.

In this difficult patch we are in right now, I needed the reminder to look out, look up and see the Face of God. And this morning, I did...

Before burying myself in this latest paper, and later on errands, family needs, household chores, and so on, I grabbed my camera, and stepped into the back yard to greet my Creator.


Even the sparrow has found a home,and the swallow a nest for herself,
where she may have her young—a place near your altar,
O LORD Almighty, my King and my God.
[Psalm 84:3]


...you are worth more than many sparrows...
[Matthew 10:31b]

Thanks be to God.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Peace, be still...

Outdoor Labyrinth at Dayspring Retreat Center
in Germantown, Maryland




I love walking this outdoor labyrinth. It is set apart from the buildings and meeting areas. It is truly off the beaten track, away from the many paths that criss-cross through the property. Set under the tress, there is a dappled sunlight, now that the leaves have all dropped.

I also like it because the journey to the center and back is on a natural surface. It's not groomed and perfectly flat. Like life there are twists and turns and potholes. There's roots that can trip you and there's debris from the trees that you have to step over as you walk.

But as I walk it, just God and me, there is a quietness that comes over me. Step by step. God is there. And in the center, a whisper that says, "Peace, be still."

The wind whips around me. There is a chilly mist falling around me. But I am at peace.

Grace for today. Bright hope for tomorrow.
Great is thy faithfulness...

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

ending a long day...

Tonight we ended our Greek class with a reading and translation of some verses from I John 2. I actually could read enough of the words to feel like perhaps I have learned something!

12 I am writing to you, dear children,
because your sins have been forgiven on account of his name.

13 I am writing to you, fathers,
because you know him who is from the beginning.
I am writing to you, young people,
because you have overcome the evil one.

14 I write to you, dear children,
because you know the Father.
I write to you, fathers,
because you know him who is from the beginning.
I write to you, young people,
because you are strong,
and the word of God lives in you,
and you have overcome the evil one.

I John 2:12-14 TNIV


There's been a lot of things hit the fan today... but at least I have this truth to hang on to.

Deb

Monday, November 16, 2009

Just give me Jesus...



I am walking this journey by faith, not by sight. I can give you all the platitudes you want, but the simple reality is that I am and will continue to be hanging on by prayer, and taking extra time to process, pray and hear God's voice.

So on a day when I needed encouragement and uplifting, there's a beautiful sun-streaming morning. When I looked out the back door into our yard, it seemed to be an "I love you" reminder from God, fresh from His fingertips... I set down my coffee mug, stepped out onto the patio and snapped this, and listened to the cardinals and carolina wrens singing their hearts out.

Wow.

God is so faithful...

Deb

P.S. As I was standing there in the chilly fall sunshine, this song came to mind... Give Me Jesus performed by Fernando Ortega

In the morning, when I rise
In the morning, when I rise
In the morning, when I rise, give me Jesus

Give me Jesus,
Give me Jesus,
You can have all this world,
But give me Jesus

When I am alone
When I am alone
When I am alone, give me Jesus

Give me Jesus,
Give me Jesus,
You can have all this world,
But give me Jesus

When I come to die
When I come to die
When I come to die, give me Jesus

Give me Jesus,
Give me Jesus,
You can have all this world,
You can have all this world,
You can have all this world,
But give me Jesus

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Heaven Come Down

One of my new favorite songs....

Song of Hope (Heaven Come Down)




Robbie Seay Band

All things bright and beautiful You are
All things wise and wonderful You are
In my darkest night, You brighten up the skies
A song will rise

I will sing a song of hope
Sing along
God of heaven come down
Heaven come down
Just to know that You are near is enough
God of heaven come down, heaven come down

All things new
I can start again
Creator, God
Calling me Your friend
Sing praise, my soul
To the Maker of the skies
A song will rise

I will sing a song of hope
Sing along
God of heaven come down
Heaven come down
Just to know You and be loved is enough
God of heaven come down, heaven come down

Hallelujah, sing
Hallelujah, sing
Hallelujah, sing

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Between the darkness and the dawn


I think that we are living between the darkness and the dawn. The now and not yet. Between the promised and the fulfillment. Some days I can handle that just fine.

Today is not one of them.

In the last few weeks we have been rocked by a terminal diagnosis in my family. My mother-in-law has a malignant glioma. While she is in excellent company (Edward Kennedy was diagnosed with it, as was Robert Novak) it is still a dim reality to us.

She has elected not to have invasive treatment, nor to allow a biopsy (the surgery is risky, and the only reason to move forward with it is to secure a clear diagnosis.) Right now, based on the MRI, scans and her symptoms, the neurosurgeon feels that there really isn't anything else that fits as a diagnosis.

Our learning curve is steep; not just in learning how to be of help to her, but to advocate for her in the best way possible. The emotional buffeting never really stops, either, moreso for Bearded Brewer than for me. We are trying to think of ways to have Thanksgiving together, and to enjoy some time as a family.

I cling to the promises of Scripture and thank God for each new day that we have as a family. Truthfully, I don't know what else to do. I look to the evening sky and speak words of faith and hope and love. Last summer, I took this picture one evening at the beach. It says "faith" to me because the longer I watched, the more layers of clouds and colors and beauty I could see. Life is like that. The first glance, the first impression of life, often does not hold all of the promise and power that God has packed into it...



My God is there....

I will praise you, Lord, among the nations;
I will sing of you among the peoples.
For great is your love, reaching to the heavens;
your faithfulness reaches to the skies.
Be exalted, O God, above the heavens;
let your glory be over all the earth.
Psalm 57:9-11


Friday, November 13, 2009

Friday Five: Friday the 13th


Sophia at RevGals writes:

The fear of Friday the 13th is called paraskevidekatriaphobia, a word derived from the concatenation of the Greek words Paraskeví (Παρασκευή) (meaning Friday), and dekatreís (δεκατρείς) (meaning thirteen), attached to phobía (φοβία) (meaning fear). The term triskaidekaphobia derives from the Greek words "tris", meaning 'three', "kai", meaning 'and', and "deka", meaning 'ten'. the whole word means three and ten. The word was derived in 1911 and first appeared in a mainstream source in 1953. (Wikipedia) With thanks to my dear spouse TechnoGuy for the great suggestion, it's a Friday the 13th Friday Five!


1. How is this Friday the 13th looking for you? Rainy, windy and hip deep in reading and writing a paper. Actually the number 13 makes me think of the character "13" on House played by Olivia Wilde.

2. Have you ever had anything unlucky happen on Friday the 13th? Not that I can remember.

3. Did your family of origin embrace or scorn superstitions? Oh, pretty much scorn them. It comes from being raised in a family of scientists. (For instance, my dad poo-poo'ed the studies on saccharin because of the "wimpy Canadian rats.")

4. Are there any unique or amusing ones from your family, region, or ethnic background? I recall that my great-grandmother believed that if a baby's first tooth was a bottom one, then they would grow to adulthood, but if the first tooth was a top one, the baby would "grow down to the grave." In fact, my parents neglected to mention that when they wrote to announce "baby's first tooth" and this concerned my great-grandmother! With subsequent babies, they always let her know that it was the bottom tooth!

5. Do you love or hate horror movies like "Friday the 13th"? That would be a "no thank you!!!" I have too vivid an imagination.

You didn't ask for one, but here's a BONUS answer: During my school years, I always planned my "Friday the 13th" outfit so that I was wearing green. The maxim was "wear green for luck" and if you did not comply, you got pinched! Anyone else have that experience??

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Let it Rain, Dear



Today's weather was a blustery, cold rainy day. I managed to stay home and work on school. (There ARE perks for school on-line!) I remember a couple of Novembers when it was cold and nasty, and I would end my day with a two hour marching band rehearsal... Yes. In the cold and the rain. First I had to slog across campus and get into marching gear. Then I had to march the new show's drill, regardless of the weather, outside on the practice field. And yes, when we were standing at attention, you could not shift or move, or try to stop the rain from running down the brim of your hat and down your shirt. I would go home, chilled to the bone, grateful for a warm dinner and a hot shower.

Many days as I would cross the Oval to head for my noon class, I would time it so that I could hear the day's selection from the chime ringers. One person at a time, (usually organ majors from the music school,) would throw the levers and play traditional chime tunes, and for fun they would always play a song that was a joke. Sometimes it was a theme from an upcoming show in the music school. It was something to look forward to, regardless of the weather. The chimes would end with the school's alma mater, Carmen Ohio. (The uninformed among you think that this tune is a hymn. That would be incorrect.)

Orton Hall, The Ohio State University web photo

One particularly nasty rainy day, the chimes ringer played tunes that related to the weather. The one that absolutely cracked me up was "Raindrops Keep Fallin' on my Head," and the crowd started to really grow when he played "MacArthur Park." There were probably fifty or so of us, standing in the rain, waiting for him to come out at the end of the quarter hour, and we applauded and cheered. (And yes we were late for class. But no matter.)

So in the grand tradition of "music you don't want to hear on a rainy day" I thought I'd start a list. Feel free to add to my list in the comments...

Raindrops Keep Fallin' on my Head
Let a Smile be your Umbrella
I Wish it Would Rain
Rainy Days and Mondays Always Get me Down
Ark-y, Ark-y
April Showers
I Can See Clearly Now the Rain is Gone
MacArthur Park
Blue Eyes Cryin' in the Rain
Over the Rainbow
Here comes that Rainy Day feeling again
It's Raining Men
The Rain in Spain
10,000 Maniacs Rainy Day
and...
Stormy Weather

Deb

Oh - P.S. Row, Row, Row your Boat!

I Wish You Enough...

Reverend Mommy pointed me to this website which worth visiting.

This poem alone is worth the trip to read the rest of the article. I think I will do some kind of video or photo blog with this "some day" but today I have Greek and a paper and "life" to do instead. I'm posting the words because I like the attitude and the heart of God I read through them.

I wish you enough sun to keep your attitude bright.
I wish you enough rain to appreciate the sun more.
I wish you enough happiness to keep your spirit alive.
I wish you enough pain so that the smallest joys in life appear much bigger.
I wish you enough gain to satisfy your wanting.
I wish you enough loss to appreciate all that you possess.
I wish enough "Hello's" to get you through the final "Goodbye."

Just feeling very blessed and grateful...
because God has given me "more than enough"...

Deb

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Thoughts on vengeance and righteous anger...

I have been trying to sort all of this out in a way that makes sense... and (fair warning!) I'm not there yet.

Last night the mastermind of the "DC Sniper Attacks," John Allen Mohammed, died by lethal injection in a penitentiary in Virginia. I well remember the discomfort and fear we experienced for several weeks in October of 2002. I was one of the "human shields" between the parking lot and the elementary school, to allow kids to run safely into the building from their parents' cars. I studied the school-to-home memos on "how to talk to your kids..." (as if there were any way to talk about it!) My kids did not have any field trips that fall. We pumped gas, unloaded groceries, and walked in public areas with an uneasy feeling, looking over our shoulders. Other than our back yard with its tall wooden fence, our kids did not play outside.

So I remember the feelings and experiences...

We did not know anyone personally who was killed by the attacks, but their faces and stories were plastered on the news. I could understand the rage and anger of the victims' families. The snipers were bragging about their exploits. They did not deny their part...

And yet when I read that Mohammed "peacefully drifted off to sleep" I wondered if this were really justice. Yes a convicted killer was now dead. But his death was a known entity - the date and time were established ahead of time. There was no terror. There was no shock. There was no fear. Yet this is "justice."

My struggle with capital punishment is from a moral and a philosophical view. I don't believe "might makes right." I don't know if killing a killer settles the score. I don't have answers to the question of whether his death by injection satisfies the rage and pain and loss of the families who have been devastated in his killing spree.

There are some things that just won't sit well with me this side of heaven...

Deb

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Multi-tasking...

I have been pondering whether my ability to multi-task is a good thing. Sometimes it allows me to be efficient and do two jobs at once. (For instance, watching TV and folding laundry, particularly matching socks!) But sometimes both tasks get the short end of the stick.

Today I blew the leaves into piles in our yard and then began to prepare them for composting, all the while listening to my Greek vocabulary on my headphones. I was making great progress until I noticed that the Greek recording had suddenly stopped... just as I poured a load of leaves into the compost bag!

Somehow, my faithful old iPod headphone cable had gotten tangled, come unplugged from the device... and, you guessed it... it fell under all those leaves... I had to dump out the full bag, and then dig around to find it, and then re-rake and re-stuff the bag. The good news is that I got my slightly dirty iPod back. The bad news is I had to rake the same pile twice.

I can laugh at myself for this stupidity. But at the same time, I begrudged the time wasted digging for my iPod, re-raking and re-piling the leaves.

Did I really need to try and study while I raked leaves? Couldn't I have just enjoyed the breeze and the clouds and birds? And did I really make that much headway on my Greek? I was short-changing myself on both.

I guess I do the same thing when I try to live in the middle without committing. I try to "have it all." And in doing so, I get little to nothing.

So. I'm trying to be more selective in my multi-tasking. If you see me with a far-away look in my eyes when I should be paying attention, just remind me.

How's about those leaves, Deb?

Monday, November 09, 2009

So much for 30 posts in 30 days...

Brick walkway towards the Quad


I didn't get any posts written over the weekend because I was enjoying every moment of my weekend with family. (That's my excuse, and I'm sticking with it!)

We made three day trips to visit The Johnnie for Parents' Weekend. Bearded Brewer and I tag-teamed so that Reedy Girl had one of us nearby at home. Her recovery from the flu required multiple doctor visits last week, and antibiotics from the nasty "opportunistic infection." (24 hours on those and she was so much better. Today she was back at school.)

Friday morning, Bearded Brewer enjoyed Attic Greek and Euclidean Geometry. Saturday we made a fast day trip (leaving Reedy Girl to nap and heal) to experience a Johnnie "seminar" in the morning on "The Apology of Socrates" and in the afternoon, consider the topic where each freshman math class begins - "a point is that which has no part."

We also squeezed in lunch with another Johnnie family, and then spent most of Sunday watching a fencing tournament. Here's a few pictures that are representative of the weekend...


Bearded Brewer and The Johnnie


Reedy Girl and The Johnnie
(Yes - they are ALMOST the same height! That's how much Reedy Girl has grown!)


The Johnnie and Yours Truly
(For a change, I let the camera be pointed at me.)


The Great Hall - located in one of the classroom buildings.


When Johnnie fencers aren't fencing, they are reading!
(In this case, Plato!)

...or they are texting/reading/napping...
(just beyond this picture, someone is reading their textbook on a Kindle...)


And then - en garde!


Friday, November 06, 2009

Friday Five: What's New? Edition

Songbird writes:

There's a new baby on my street, a double PK whose Mom and Dad are Methodist pastors and church planters. I'm hoping to go over and meet her today. I love new babies, the way they smell and their sweet little fingers and toes. Little K has me thinking about all the new things that please us with their shiny freshness.

Please share with us five things you like *especially* when they are new.

1. Kittens. Reverend Mommy's pictures of kittens by Princess are SOooooo cute!

2. Cars. That new car feel and new car smell. But I don't much care for the new car payments...

3. Spring buds. The days before the leaves, flowers and bushes just burst open with color. After a drab, grey winter... I love it.

4. A pie, fresh from the oven. Specifically, a fruit pie with a scoop of vanilla ice cream melting over the top. (Getcha drooling???)

5. Clean sheets on the bed. Unlike my college student days, I do change them every week! I love the smell and feel of fresh, clean sheets.


Probably I've left something out... chime in with your comments...

Deb

Thursday, November 05, 2009

found a new website

Hat tip to Debbi!!

She posted a recipe (Cheddar Cheese Casserole Bread) that looked great and sounded easy. I need some inspiration to make my meals more interesting. (Cooking's just not my favorite thing to do.)

Mennonite Girls Can Cook is full of great, healthy, from scratch recipes. Everything from canning to casseroles.

I will definitely be back to get ideas from their blog!

yummm!!!



Day 4 of the ?? Flu ?? or whatever...


Dr. Henry administers fuzz therapy and prescribes random scritching with a side of purrs and, oh yeah, the stuff that other doctor wants. But for now... rest, fluids, and naps.

So what are the odds that the rest of us will come down with this???

sigh...

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Numbers brings comfort. (Numbers???)

A moment of honesty:

I have found it hard to believe that the Old Testament books of Numbers or Leviticus would have inspirational words in them. The wars, the blood, the sacrificial system just didn't speak to me. Maybe you've kinda wanted to skip over that stuff, too.

But -- recently I was writing an essay on the making of the tabernacle in the desert (Numbers 3-9). And as I read Numbers 9, I was struck by the promise God made - to always be with the people who were called to love and serve YHWH. Even though they had chosen to worship an idol in their man-made golden calf, even though they complained, even though they did not believe God would rescue them from the Egyptian armies, again and again God was faithful.

When the tabernacle was built in the desert, God's Presence descended over it as a pillar of fire at night, and a cloud by day. In the middle of the camp, there was a visible sign that God would never leave nor forsake the people God had called by name. When the cloud moved, the people moved. When the cloud stopped, the people stopped. It didn't matter when. It didn't matter for how long. They just watched and obeyed.

I think that many times my fears and reluctance are because I am not confident of God's presence and direction. And yet - in every circumstance - if I just look and wait and pray - God is very clear. When I charge off on my own and then look over my shoulder to see if I'm doing what God asks, ah, then, more often than not, I'm struggling.

So as I read over Numbers 9 recently, I journaled this prayer... and I thought I'd share it with you.

Lord of the Comforting Presence and Awe-bringing Fire,

I am only able to enter into your Presence because the sacrifice of Jesus, who was made sin on my behalf, and who goes before me as my High Priest, Savior and Lord. I recognize that nothing I could ever do would make me worthy. I seek Your guidance, protection and re-direction as I prayerfully make decisions about future ministry and service for You.

God, I ask that You make me wise as a leader. Give me discernment to see Your guiding hand. Give me patience to wait on Your direction. And give me humility to follow others in authority over me as You direct them, whether or not the way seems plain or clear to me.

Thank You, Father, Protector, Redeemer, Friend and Guide. I am listening to Your Spirit’s call and I desire to obey You in every way.

In the Name above all names, Jesus –

Amen.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

worth re-reading...

When I left full-time ministry when our first-born was a baby, one of the books that my Beloved Bearded Spouse gave me to read was Henri Nouwen's The Road to Daybreak. It is one of those books that I pull out from time to time to make sure that I have kept my "ministry compass" pointing north.

I re-read it recently and was amused to find this quote with the date of April 2006 - the month I found out that I was accepted into divinity school...

I feel a tension within me. I have only a limited number of years left for active ministry. Why not use them well? Yet one word spoken with a pure heart is worth thousands spoken in a state of spiritual turmoil. Time given to inner renewal is never wasted. God is not in a hurry.

There are zillion things (OK, maybe only half a zillion!) that I dream of being able to do for God as I finish my degree and begin working in ministry... and yet what is more important in the long run is the continued work of inner renewal in my heart.

I am grateful I serve a merciful, compassionate God!

Deb

A milestone!

It seems like it has taken me forever to get this far, but today I registered for my last semester of classes at seminary. It's been a four year journey, one that has definitely changed me and the goals I had set when I started this.

The process I've gone through didn't happen quickly. Or easily. There have been many days where I was ready to just toss it all and go get a job in retail somewhere, or write the Next Great American Novel. (Who knows? I may still do that, some day!) But over time and with a lot of support and encouragement from my family and friends, we have finally reached this milestone.

In some respects, I am much the same person. And in others, I know that I have changed. I still have unanswered questions and concerns, but I have assurance that I will understand the what/why/when/how some day. But more than anything, I have indeed "seen the goodness of the Lord."

I am still confident of this:
I will see the goodness of the LORD
in the land of the living.

Wait for the LORD;
be strong and take heart
and wait for the LORD.

Psalm 27:13-14 (NIV)

Monday, November 02, 2009

30 posts in 30 days...



I didn't realize it, but a lot of bloggers are doing "30 posts in 30 days" this month. Mindy's on target for it, and so am I. I originally had something profound to write today... but that's all tossed aside for another day.

Today we became a statistic... Reedy Girl is down with the flu. She's warm and quiet. The cats are taking turns checking on her. A quiet, drowsy girl on a couch, particularly one with a fever, makes for a wonderful cat backrest.

Purr therapy... the new treatment for the flu!

We are hopeful that she doesn't share it. If everyone is on their feet by the end of the week, Bearded Brewer and I will be heading east to see The Johnnie for Parents' Weekend... here's hoping that all of our ducks fall in a row...


Deb

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Looking things squarely in the face...

This just kind of speaks to my heart tonight...

thank you, God...


NOTE: I took out the embedded video.
(The vocalist's mannerisms were bugging me... but I still like the song!)
You can watch the video here...



"The Prayer"


I pray you'll be our eyes
And watch us where we go
And help us to be wise
In times when we don't know
Let this be our prayer
As we go our way
Lead us to a place
Guide us with your grace
To a place where we'll be safe

I pray we'll find your light
And hold it in our hearts
When stars go out each night
Remind us where you are
Let this be our prayer
When shadows fill our day
Lead us to a place
Guide us with your grace
Give us faith so we'll be safe

We ask that life be kind
And watch us from above
We hope each soul will find
Another soul to love

Let this be our prayer
Just like every child
Needs to find a place
Guide us with your grace
Give us faith so we'll be safe

Need to find a place
Guide us with your grace
Give us faith so we'll be safe

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Now Thank We All Our God

This was on my mind as I prayed for a very ill family member this morning...

Now Thank We All Our God

Now thank we all our God, with heart and hands and voices,
Who wondrous things has done, in Whom this world rejoices;
Who from our mothers’ arms has blessed us on our way
With countless gifts of love, and still is ours today.

O may this bounteous God through all our life be near us,
With ever joyful hearts and blessèd peace to cheer us;
And keep us in His grace, and guide us when perplexed;
And free us from all ills, in this world and the next!

All praise and thanks to God the Father now be given;
The Son and Him Who reigns with Them in highest Heaven;
The one eternal God, whom earth and Heaven adore;
For thus it was, is now, and shall be evermore.


According to the Oremus Hymnal:

Words: Mar­tin Rink­art, cir­ca 1636 (Nun dank­et al­le Gott); first ap­peared in Prax­is Pi­e­ta­tis Mel­i­ca, by Jo­hann Crü­ger (Ber­lin, Ger­ma­ny: 1647); trans­lat­ed from Ger­man to Eng­lish by Ca­ther­ine Wink­worth, 1856.

Music: Nun Dank­et, at­trib­ut­ed to Jo­hann Crü­ger, 1647; har­mo­ny by Fe­lix Men­dels­sohn, 1840 (MI­DI, score). Though the tune is found Crü­ger’s Prax­is Pi­e­ta­tis Mel­i­ca, and is at­trib­ut­ed to Crü­ger, Ca­ther­ine Wink­worth be­lieved Mar­tin Rink­art wrote the tune in 1644.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Friday FIve: Lifesaver Edition

KathrynZJ is in the groove for an upcoming retreat with other RevGalBlogPals. She writes:

In honor of BE Three I thought I'd offer up a Friday Five of lifesavers. I'm going on our cruise (are you?) because I am excited about meeting up with my blogging buddies again, I am interested in the speaker and because when I went on the first one my life was saved (okay, that may be a little over-dramatized but if you saw me getting on the boat and then the difference when getting off the boat you would know of what I speak).

I don't expect - or need - another life saving moment but I want to support the conference.

Of course lifesavers can come in all sizes and with far less drama. I would readily admit that I have considered a person (children's sermon substitute), the location of a bathroom, and a beverage (the last diet coke in the back of the fridge - score!) all to be lifesavers at one point or another.

And so today I ask you - dramatic or fairly common - what have been/are your lifesavers:

(If it helps, try the phrase 'life giving' instead.)

1) Your lifesaving food/beverage.
Coffee and chocolate. Sometimes, together!

2) Your lifesaving article of clothing.
Jeans and Birkies. Sometimes, together!

3) Your lifesaving movie/book/tv show/music.
Hard one. I love too many books. CS Lewis, of course. Star Trek IV because I know most of the lines. And the plot is so dumb... (whales? really?) LOTR books and movies. (I can ignore the glaring inconsistencies and an elf who looks like a Barbie doll.)

4) Your lifesaving friend.
Geez. Hard to choose. The prayer posse. My beloved bearded spouse, My family.

5) Your lifesaving moment.
A fall evening, after graduating from college, when I had to answer the question for myself: "Who do you say that I am?" (Mark 8). It began a journey, twisted and convoluted as it is, to the pastorate. I'm sure my college drinking buddies didn't see it coming. I didn't either.

BONUS: Music to live by: "Step by Step" performed by Michael W. Smith and written by Rich Mullins.


Oh God, You are my God
And I will ever praise You

Oh God, You are my God
And I will ever praise You

I will seek You in the morning
And I will learn to walk in Your ways
And Step by step You'll lead me
And I will follow You all of my days

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Morning prayers


For the things which weigh us down...
Give us perspective and peace.

For the worries that press in on our thoughts...
Give us confidence that You are in control.

For the joys that light up our lives...
Give us thankfulness.

For the decisions we have to make...
Give us wisdom and clarity.

For the commitments we have chosen to make...
Give us energy to follow through.

For the unloveliest moments and people in our lives...
Give us Your Holy Spirit, full of love and grace.

For the unanswered questions...
Give us discernment as to Your timing, as well as Your answer!

For our achievements and celebrations...
Give us humility and remind us that You blessed us.

And for all the other things I have forgotten to pray about this morning...
I give them up to You now.

Amen.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

A Church of Her Own


Over at RevGals this week there was a book discussion on Sarah Sentilles "A Church of Her Own." Not surprisingly, there were some pretty passionate responses. I understand where this emotion and frustration comes from, but I found Sentilles' work a bit over-the-top.

I am definitely among those who have seen the prejudice against women as leaders and pastors in larger evangelical churches. I'm in the nondenominational side of church life, more towards the conservative side (though I am proud to wear the label "progressive"!!) What I have seen is that in many of these churches, that the men are in positions which are "pastoral" and the women are in positions which are "directors" or "administrators" -- even though they are teaching, leading and caring for teams of volunteers, children, etc. Makes. me. nuts.

I am working very hard with my spiritual director to name prejudice for what it is, and then to proclaim God's forgiveness for my attitudes, and to extend God's forgiveness towards others. I guess I would like to see a more reconciling spirit in this book. Lord willing, perhaps my journey in this arena will be in a book which is written in that Spirit. It seems unnecessary to paint all churches and all male clergy with the same brush. It smacks of reverse discrimination.

On the positive side, here is something that I do agree with in her book: from Chapter Six on Language, page 129

"Seeing a woman in the pulpit not only brings us up against our implicit or explicit assumptions about the categories "minister" and "woman," it also challenges how we think about God."
further down...
"Most liturgical language refers to God as male - God is called 'He," "lord," "Father," "King" - and prayers in many churches use the pronoun "he" or the words "man" or mankind" to refer to human beings. When pressed proponents of this kind of male-only, exclusive language insist that "men" is a generic, gender-neutral term. ...Insisting that "men" means everyone is a kind of double-talk: "Men" means all of us, but only men can get ordained."
~ o ~

These quotes are just the tip of the iceberg. There is a problem with gender-inclusive language in some corners simply because God was always imaged as male to the patriarchal society. So what was historical context must continue as present-day context? I don't think so! That is simply bad hermeneutics! Sentilles does, to her credit, discuss some of the alternative namings of God but admits that liturgically that pesky ol' pronoun problem keeps creeping up.

One of the issues we wrestled with in Systematic Theology class was the issue of using the roles of God as names limits the infinity of God (God is not just Creator, Redeemer, Sustainer but is also Judge, Renewer, Savior, etc etc). We get into ontological problems in our desire to escape the limits of the English language.

As Sentilles points out, referring to God in male-only language has stifled the perceptions of us all in accepting that a woman can speak to/for God. In discussing this with my college student and her peers, this has become a bigger issue that I think we understand. They are not willing to tolerate invisibility or bias any more... I do pray that her generation will not be wrestling with the battles of insecurity and poor exegesis!

I'm choosing to stand firm, think positively for my daughters' generation, and to model acceptance and grace.

Deb