Saturday, January 31, 2009


OK, compare the importance of religion in the various states of the U.S. (courtesy of Gallup Polls)

And how they voted. (courtesy of Wikipedia...)


Friday, January 30, 2009



Clean up.
Try again.


We ask for them in golf matches.
We beg the umpire for a review.
We fix documents.
We persuade our computers to work. (maybe!)

We need UNDOs in life.
And more than once when I've realized I've let someone down or watched as someone is hurt... I've wished that we could just erase memories and conversations with an "undo" button, or something.

As part of the reflection process in my coursework, I'm asked to consider what I've succeeded at doing, where I need help, and where I need to make more minor, mid-course corrections.

So many UNDOs, so little time...

I know that there's really two steps to this process for me.

The first is that I be willing to try again.
For me, that's huge. If I'm hurt, or have been wounded by someone, I have trouble trusting it will turn out OK. Ever. But to gather courage in hand and try again, (and again and again and again... times seventy!) is all God asks.

The second is to forgive.
Forgive without expecting the other person will change, setting aside pride and anger and hurt to forgive the other person. That's harder. Because I personally want blame assigned or accepted. Or I want to, as they say, "chew 'em a new one."

Instead, God asks that I forgive and wisely choose my next course of action. It's not that I would automatically choose that same course of action, or the same relationships, or even the same job... but to leave things hanging out there, bleeding and oozing pain??? Or to stuff my disappointments, hide them, and not admit it hurts??? No, that's not what God asks.

Please note.... FORGIVENESS does not equal STUPID.
I can take steps of healing or steps of wounding. And as far as God helps me, I'd like it to be the former.

If I hang on to my anger, I become sarcastic. Or bitter. I retreat and I don't invest emotionally, because, who wants to hurt again? As an extrovert and a "feeling" person, sometimes I feel overexposed and vulnerable. I need to step back, assess, and own my part of the problem (which is always bigger than it first seemed! Funny how that works....) and not retreat. I need the opportunity to have a big "UNDO" in my life, in my heart, in my relationships.

Time and time again, God has been patient, faithful and accepting towards me. Not because I deserve it, but because I have a love relationship with God that is not based on performance, but on a God-sized sacrifice.

I just stumbled on to the band Rush of Fools and this song in particular has been running through my mind... it's called --- "UNDO"

Hear their message of honest confession and healing... It's yours, mine, ours for the taking.


UNDO by Rush of Fools

Friday Five: HGTV edition

Will Smama of RevGalBlogPals writes:

As some of you may know I am in the midst of my first home purchase. It is a new-build and so some of the fun was picking out upgrades and major decor items to my taste rather than walking into a previously owned home that needed to be upgraded room by room (pink and teal tiles in the bathroom, anyone?). As much as decorating is not my thing, I did try to embrace the moment because just how many times do you get to have a do-over on kitchen cabinets/floors/countertops?

And so, my questions to you this fine Friday involve your home past, present or future...

1) If you could, what room in the place you are currently living would you redo first? My kitchen. We got rid of the avacado green dishwasher, refrigerator and double electric oven. Now I'd love to replace the builder's model plywood-coverered-in-contact-paper cabinets, and the stick-on floor tiles the previous owner installed to cover up the ugly linoleum flooring. (The tiles have now shifted, lost their "shine" and look perpetually dirty.)

2) What is the most hideous feature/color/decor item you have ever seen in a home? Puce pink tiles with olive green tile trim. In the bathroom. In case you didn't feel like heaving, the tiles helped.

3) What feature do you most covet? Do you have it? If not, is it within reach? A huge "owner's suite" bathroom with jacuzzi tub, shower, etc. And no, we don't have it. We could only expand our bathroom if we cantilevered an addition on the front of the house. That ain't happening. There is "space" to re-do the bathroom and add a few features like a double sink... but the $$$$$$$ make it definitely out of reach!

4) Your kitchen - love it or hate it? Why? Hate it. It's too small. It's a galley kitchen. And the process of doing the cabinets and floor give me a headache for the logistical planning that is involved...

5) Here is $10,000 and you HAVE to spend it on the place you are living now. What do you do? We do the roof and the front walk and driveway. Actually, that would not cover both of those jobs... but it would help...

BONUS: Why do you think there was such a surplus of ugly bathroom tile colors showcased in all homes built from the 1950's right through the early 80's?
At the end of the Cold War, it was discovered that alien life forms were creating the color pallettes for bathrooms in the US. The CIA willingly collaborated with this, hiding their operation in Roswell. Once Roswell was "outed" in the press, the manufacturing of these alternate life form colors ceased. And normalcy and beauty returned to the American Bathroom. Remember, you heard it here first!

who really REALLY would like to re-do her kitchen and bath, but will likely do the roof and probably the water heater... and then the front walk and driveway... and then pay for kids' college tuition... and then the car will need four new tires... etc.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Care to weigh in???

Here's the assignment...

Final Paper: submit 3000-4000 word research paper, with the following features:

a) on one of the following doctrines: the Trinity, the incarnation, the fall, total depravity, an aspect of the atonement—propitiation, expiation, substitution, ransom, etc.—original sin or some other related doctrine—approved by your professor.

b) include separate sections on your theological method, biblical perspectives and historical development.

c) identify what difference, if any, a renewal or pneumatological approach makes for this doctrine.

d) reflect on how Christian beliefs make a difference for Christian practices & vice versa.

e) discuss other related issues, raise critical questions, respond creatively and constructively to disputed matters.


I'm all ears...

What would be a good topic? One that's not just seminary bs?? I am tired of papers that pluck gnat's eyebrows, if you catch my drift. It would be nice to take a contemporary issue relating to one of these themes and at least enjoy the research. (Is that a dream?)

One caveat is that this prof assigned us Grudem's Systematic Theology as a textbook (blarg) so I can't throw my feminism too pointedly in his face. Though I can certainly do some arguments which raise a feminist point of view.

Since Henry has decided the discussion of this whole project is far to soporific, I await your collective wisdom.


A random click...

I don't even remembered how I found the blog Everyday Liturgy... But I am delighted! It's actually a companion blog to an on-line journal.

As I start my day, slowing down before I rev up, trying to meet up with God and then tackle my daunting exegesis assignment, it was just great to 'rest' a while in the writings. After my recent post on Communion, I appreciated the journal edition on the Eucharist, especially Tim's reflection as a "Post Conservative."

Just a few quick random thoughts... click on over!

sez it all

i so tired it be real long day
more animals

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Sunday worship...

We sang this at worship during the Chrysalis team meeting recently... Then we sang it this morning at church... double bonus! I really love this song!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Completely and utterly amazing...

It's just one of the greatest things I get to do...

This morning we had a team meeting for the Chrysalis team that I'm serving on for a February weekend. It's not my first team since I've been on Emmaus teams, but it is the first time I've been a Spiritual Director (or SD for short) and my first Chrysalis team.

Teaming and weekends usually involve celebrating Communion together. While we are welcome to have youth or adults serve it to the rest of the team, as an SD it's a special privilege to be able to offer them the bread or the cup, to lead the communion meditation, and speak the words of institution and administration. I pray I never get over the blessing I have to be able to do this simple act; women for centuries have been denied a place of officiating at the Communion table.

Many times as I look in the eyes of my friends, either on team or other places where we gather, I see the same joy, the same amazing wonder in my own heart. They seem to be lost in the wonder of the same inner "conversation" with God...

...for me, Lord?
yes. for you. spite of all I've done?
because of Whose you are.

...will I ever be able to express it in words?
it's OK if you don't -- I love you.

Most of the time, the church where I'm a staff member does a less intimate Communion experience by passing the trays of juice and bread. It's not "wrong" -- it's just different and it fits the setting where we are, and the people we minister to each week. So when I have the opportunity to share in this simple celebration with others, I appreciate it all the more.

This morning, the joy and intimate Presence of Jesus was so very near... there's just nothing like it.

Thanks, God, for letting me be a part of it...


Friday, January 23, 2009

Friday Five: Cabin Fever edition

Singing Owl from RevGals writes:

Here in snow country we are settled in to what is a very long stretch of potentially boring days. The holidays are over. It is a very long time till we will get outside on a regular basis. The snow that seemed so beautiful at first is now dirty and the snow banks are piling up. Our vehicles are all the same shade of brownish grey, but if we go to the car wash our doors will freeze shut. People get grumpy. Of course, not everyone lives in a cold climate, but even in warmer places the days till springtime can get long. Help! Please give us five suggestions for combating cabin fever and staying cheerful in our monochromatic world?

"Snow piling up." I'm trying to picture it. sigh... that's not a problem we have in the mid-Atlantic region. However, the brown-ness and grey-ness of winter days do get to me. Here's some things I do:

1. I have "full-spectrum" bulbs in my desk lamp and in my kitchen. I need to feel like it is day time. The blinds and curtains are OPEN before the sun is up so that I can feel like I'm not swathed in a tomb.

2. I cut forsythia from the bushes out back and "force" them to bloom early inside.

3. Music. Lots of it. Upbeat.

4. TV stays off. I know, LOST just started up again (don't tell me what's happened -- I haven't had time to watch!) and 24 is cooking another plot. But if I am stuck behind the torpor tube, it doesn't help. We tend to do big group projects like jigsaw puzzles.

5. Feed the birds and squirrels. I love to watch them. There's activity, life and the occasional laugh. We have a "Yankee Flipper" bird feeder and it's good for many laughs and squirrel launchings. We also have a birdbath "heater" to keep the birds around. It's amazing how many birds we will have just because our birdbath is open for business.

Celebrating the growing light... Spring will arrive in 2 months. Or so they say!


Say it isn't so!

I enjoyed the John Williams' arrangement of the tune Simple Gifts. Despite the snarky reviews in the Washington Post, it was lovely, uplifting and joyous as befit the occasion. So imagine my surprise when I read this morning that the "performance" at the inauguration was TAPED!

Yes it was.

They played (physically played) their instruments. But they were not amplified for the broadcast because the cold temperatures would have made their instruments go out of tune. I wondered how they managed to play "live" and in tune. And I still shudder at having priceless instruments out in the cold, dry air. I was told that they had space heaters to keep their instruments in tune. Uh huh.

Now we know.

But even taped, it was glorious. And, FYI, it's not on iTunes yet. I'm waiting.


Thursday, January 22, 2009

Explaining the unexplainable...

I've tried to write a couple of blog posts and deleted them. Somehow I can't get into words the deeper things I'm pondering.

Part of it is the nature of being a little more "public" a person than I used to be. That's the prideful part of me getting in the way... ("What will they think if I admit that I struggle with...??")

Yeah right. I am making myself out to be much more important than I am. I mean, President Obama asked me to give that inaugural prayer and I had to decline because of my classes. RIiiiiiight.

No. That's not it.

It's a process of wanting to articulate what I'm pondering as fairly and as objectively as one can when the writing is all reflective. And it's a process of self-editing because in the rare moment when I write out of objectivity, I don't want to backhand blast people because I personally think they are idiots. In a holy and pastoral sort of post, of course.

Like every student and pastor I know, there's questions that don't get answered quickly...

  • the hows and whys of things...
  • the meanings behind words and phrases...
  • the simple pain that comes into the world...
  • the lack of feeling and/or logic in other human beings...
  • the raw exhaustion of wondering why the ???? stuff keeps happening...
In mulling over systematics this morning, I realized part of the problem I've been facing. If I really and truly put it into words, will it be believable? And will anyone besides me find it makes sense?

Or will it just be another test of the Emergency Yodeling Button?
That's it.

Boy, I'm glad I got that figured out.


P.S. The button is at Archie McPhee -- just in case you need one, too.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

We must listen and remember...

8 And the word of the LORD came again to Zechariah: 9 "This is what the LORD Almighty said: 'Administer true justice; show mercy and compassion to one another. 10 Do not oppress the widow or the fatherless, the foreigner or the poor. Do not plot evil against each other.'
Zechariah 7:8-10

My prayers are with President Obama, our country, our churches, our communities and our homes. Our job is not finished with Inauguration Day. It's time to put aside "politics as usual" and be a part of the change we elected. Regardless how we voted -- it's time to get to work.

Peace -


Monday, January 19, 2009

Cooking EHxperiment

I was given a large Fennel bulb and stem. One daughter commented that it looked like celery on growth hormones (or with a grass transplant.) True. It's a bit unusual. I decided to Google a recipe for Fennel and Potato soup. We tried it.

The ingredients:

(NOTE: It was sadly lacking in spices, so I added salt, pepper and garlic.)

Cooking in the stock pot:

Pureed and ready to be returned to the pot:

The finished product, served with tomato-basil focaccia bread:

The Verdict:
"Tastes like gooey mashed potatoes."
"Looks like glue from art class."
"Needs more garlic."
"I liked the bread." (thanks... it came from Trader Joe's...)

As cooking experiments go, it was more of an EHxperiment... mostly non-toxic. And possibly repeatable. But more garlic next time. Definitely, more garlic.


Broken Things

The iTunes Meme: (thanks to Reedy Girl...)

1. Put your ipod or playlists on shuffle.
2. For each question, press the next button to get your answer.
4. Pass it on.

What is your motto?
Grace Like Rain

What do your friends think of you?
The Noise We Make

What do you think about very often?

What does math mean to you?
Fields of Gold

What do you think of your best friend?
I Celebrate the Day

What do you think of the person you like?

What is your life story?
Bring the Rain

What do you want to be when you grow up? (LOL)
I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For

What do you think when you see the person you like?
We Will Be Together

What do your parents think of you?
Too Much

What will you dance to at your wedding? (hmmm... already did this... but not to this song!)

What will they play at your funeral?
He's a Pirate

What is your hobby/interest?

What is your biggest secret?

What do you think of your friends?
Lux Venit

What's the worst thing that could happen?
New Day

How will you die?

What makes you laugh?
What the World Needs

What makes you cry?
Whipped into Shape

If you could go back in time, what would you change?
Snuggle Puppy

What hurts right now?
Easier to Be

What will you put in the subject box?
Broken Things

Play if you wish... I'm not tagging anyone.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

In the completely pointless category...

I could survive for 1 minute, 6 seconds

hat tip to Crummy Church Signs

Sunday Morning Worship

Found out at about midnight that services were cancelled because of a water main break. I intended to get up and return to a Chrysalis team retreat... but woke up at about 11 a.m. instead. Hmmm guess I needed the sleep!

In lieu of church and worshipping with my friends at the retreat, I found a video I'd like to share. It's by Misty Edwards and is called, "I will waste my life." I can't think of anything better to do...


Friday, January 16, 2009

Friday Five: Take me or leave me

Songbird from RevGals writes:

Although written by a young man, this song from "Rent" became an anthem for women of a certain age ready to be taken on their own terms. Maureen and Joanne love each other, but they are *very* different.

Whether it's new friends or new loves or new employers, what are five things people should know about you?
1. I love my kids and my husband and my large extended family. You mess with them, you mess with me. The mama bear don't take kindly to people who don't respect my fambly.

2. I love music. All kinds. Classical. Rock. Christian. Chants. Celtic. (hmmmm... that's a lot of C's!) I love to play my piano and sing. I love to noodle around on my flute. I don't love loud for loudness sake, or wobbly virtuoso for snobbery's sake. And I really don't like singers who don't know how to sing, but think they do. (And that's all I'll say about that!)

3. I love people. But, I sometimes get in too deep and lose perspective on how to love them and help them the best because...

4. I feel things very deeply. VERY deeply. I stuff my feelings and my tears a lot. When they let loose, it's like a fire hose. Tissues at the ready...

5. I like to have fun and laugh. But I don't like to have a laugh at someone else's expense.

And that would be pretty much "me" !


Thursday, January 15, 2009

BUCKEYES understand...

You just simply have to be a Buckeye to get this one...

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Our musicians.

Here's where the fruit of all those scales and arpeggios finally can be seen... Both daughters had end-of-semester concerts in the last week.

First out of the gate was Reedy Girl's middle school instrumental music concert. If you get a strong magnifying glass you will find her near the conductor's left elbow...

Reedy girl tuning. She didn't see me.

Stealth Mom mode...




(I didn't post the next picture. She saw me and ducked behind the music stand.)

The crew....

Reedy Girl, hanging out with friends, waiting for their turn to go on stage.

Left to right...
Clarinet, French Horn, Flute, Oboe and...

All heading to high school next year.

Tonight it was The Harpist's turn. The high school music department has a "Masterworks" concert every year. This year they combined the chorus and orchestra for selections from Handel's "Messiah." There was only one ringer (piccolo trumpet is a bit much for most high school kids.)

Our lovely harpist with her harp, named 'Elrond.' Why, you ask? Because it is his name. He told her. She listened. That's how it goes.

Actually this was taken after the concert when the music staff wisely decided to get yearbook photos while everyone was relatively clean and well-behaved.


The Harpist, flanked by two of my borrowed daughters. Both in the chorus...

I think they are all keepers.

And that is the end of my evening.

I'm proud of our progeny. They both did very well...


Monday, January 12, 2009


I thought perhaps it was a hoax. I mean, it had to be. NOTHING could be that bad, that sappy, that... horrible. Could it? But no. It's true. Microsoft has developed software to make music composition craptastic everywhere...

I mean, after how many years of studying music... how many hours of practicing... all I needed was THIS???

(I warn you... it's 4 minutes and 17 seconds of putrid.)

hat tip to Laura (and congrats on your engagement!)


Sunday, January 11, 2009

Friday, January 09, 2009

Friday Five: Pancakes

Sophia from RevGalBlogPals writes:

Last week Sally gave us a beautiful, spiritually reflective Friday Five, so it's time for something light and fluffy (literally). It's inspired by the fact that as I write this my dear spouse TechnoGuy, with the assistance of daughter Ladybug, is making a batch of chocolate chip pancakes with two Christmas presents. One is the Knott's Berry Farm mix which came along with jam, boysenberry syrup, and biscuit mix from my aunt (we ended up with two sets, since my parents passed theirs on to avoid sweet and carb-y temptation). The other is the large size Black and Decker electric skillet he was thrilled that I got him online -- our trusty wedding present normal size one still works at going on 20 years, but the Teflon is getting worn, and he wanted more cooking space. So pull up a chair to the kitchen table and tell us all about your pancake preferences.

1. Scratch or mix? Buttermilk or plain?
Always from scratch. Usually plain. However, if we are camping, I do bring a pre-made mix because it's easier.

2. Pure and simple, or with additions cooked in?
Most of the time, I make them plain. However, our progeny are convinced that they MUST have chocolate chips dropped on them as they are cooking. If I use a mix however, it's got to be Trader Joe's wholegrain pancake mix!

3. For breakfast or for dinner?
Either. It's a favorite winter weekend meal.

4. Preferred syrup or other topping? How about the best side dish? Real Maple Syrup. If we are feeling pinched in the budget, I'll stretch the syrup with brown sugar and water, heated with the syrup. But the syrup MUST be hot.

The best side dish (it goes without saying!) is COFFEE.
5. Favorite pancake restaurant?
Um. I find restaurant pancakes to be a little sponge-y to my taste. So... none.

Bonus: Any tasty recipes out there, for pancakes or other special breakfast dishes? Bring 'em on!

Sure... here's an easy one!

"The Best Doggone Pancakes You Ever Ate"
My family's "old family recipe"
(taken from a vacuum repair service postcard ad from Mansfield, Ohio)
1 cup milk + 2 Tbsp
2 Tbsp oil
1 egg, beaten
1 cup flour
1/2 tsp. salt
2 Tbsp sugar
2 Tbsp baking power (YES - 2 TBSP)

Mix egg, oil and milk in a medium bowl. Sift dry ingredients together and add to milk mixture. Add remaining 2 Tbsp of milk. Fry on a hot greased griddle or electric skillet set to 350-360 degrees (F).

Serves: 4 (barely -- we usually double it)


Thursday, January 08, 2009

Small Brain Explosion...

Too many "AHA" moments to list. But since the semester has started, it's been kind of a steady stream of Hhhmmmmm....

I have a couple of posts and thoughts in process. Humor. Poetry and a few pictures. But at the moment, there's a temporary work stoppage in my brain.
So -

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

2008 - The Year In Review

New Year's is that season of looking back to assess and looking ahead to make goals and plans. I'm doing this for school and work and it seemed appropriate to do at least a review of my blog in 2008.

It's a fun way to see how I blogged the year. And it is noteworthy that in 2008 I blogged the most I ever have... 291 posts!

If you'd like to play, here's what you do... take the first sentence of the first post of the month... and see if you notice any pattern or common theme.

I've linked you to the post, if the sentence intrigues you.

Look out! The mothership has landed!

Well, first, you have to understand what has happened to the American brain.

I knew this week's schedule would be draining.

I finished reading Gracism by David Anderson last evening and have been mulling it over all day.

I turn not because you push me but because I want to move and face the change.

WHEN: July 12, 2008

There are moments...

Pre-GPS days, I would play "radio roulette" and just keep punching the "search" button on my FM radio.

Is it possible to sprain your brain?

SOooo... this makes me stop and think and believe for all of the "orchard possibilities" in my life, and where God may "plant" me in the future.

John Ortberg in The Life You've Always Wanted talks about 'hurry sickness."

There's a virtual Advent Retreat going on over at RevGalBlogPals today...

It's been a year of growth and change -- all for the good, though at the time the painful parts truly sucked...

Here's to what GOD intends for 2009. I'm ready!


Thursday, January 01, 2009

New Year's Musings

Rev Honey from RevGalBlogPals says...

Welcome to this new day...and new year. For many, it is a time to make new or different choices about how we will live out our Christian vocation.

Perhaps you are choosing to take on a new devotional discipline, or act on some wisdom you have received from someone whom you respect.

Today, let's share some advice that we have received or claimed for ourselves, or some new direction we are choosing for ourselves in our ministry.

I've been doing some pondering on this, mostly because of the nature of being a seminarian! Every semester I have to write "reflection papers" on what I am learning, thinking, discovering, doing in my spiritual walk. My profs want pages. You get bullet points, non-Turabian. Hope you don't mind! ;^)

* I am doing a simple 5x5x5 Bible reading plan. 5 minutes a day, 5 days a week with 5 ways to go deeper on a chapter of the New Testament.
The plan allows for "catch up" days and will take me through the New Testament s-l-o-w-ly through 2009. This in itself is a nice change from my classes: "read the book of Mark and trace the themes of ________, juxtaposing them with the treatment of the same theme in John, responding to areas of personal spiritual growth needs." (or some such topic crammed into 12 pages.)

* I am making the women pastor's support group a priority in my life.
We met four times in 2008, we are going to go for monthly in 2009. I really love these women and can't even imagine what it would be like to be in ministry without their "outside view" of my life and ministry! We don't attend the same church, so there's no crossing of supervision and personal "stuff" which is really, really healthy.

* I am continuing to remember my priorities...
Especially, I want to a) remember ALL of them (God, husband, kids, church, friends, family, LIFE) and b) keep things in perspective because things WILL get out of whack -- I just need to get them back in line with "ideal" and live with that imperfection.

* I am looking to slowly read and reflect on four books in 2009.
I get very little reading done outside of my school reading, particularly this upcoming semester where the profs have promised "heavy reading requirements." I'm keeping my promised book list short since I am given a lot of "required" reading -- even for my pastor's role; last year I read 8 or 9 books -- just for my job!! Needless to say, those books, and schoolbooks, do NOT count! My first book of 2009 is a re-read... The Book of the Dun Cow. I read it years ago... it was given to me as an ordination gift and I think I need to re-read it.

If anything else happens in 2009, I will consider it a double bonus.

Peace - and a Joyous New Year!!