Saturday, February 28, 2009

Matthew 7:1-5

here's the graphic I used for my sermon assignment for school... I'm either really tired or it's funny.

Or both...

Friday, February 27, 2009

Friday Five: Fork in the Road

Singing Owl from RevGals writes:

I am at a life-changing juncture. I do not know which way I will go, but I have been thinking about the times, people and events that changed my life (for good or ill) in significant ways. For today's Friday Five, share with us five "fork-in-the-road" events, or persons, or choices. And how did life change after these forks in the road?

1. Family moves - from Ohio to South Carolina to Ohio again: This allowed me to experience life in two very different places! The Piedmont area of South Carolina in the late 60s, early 70s was probably much harder on my parents than on me. I realize now that they shielded us from a lot of the nasty stuff of that era. However, the death of my oldest sibling resulted in my parents to move back to Ohio to be near their elderly parents. The public schools were certainly better in Ohio, but it was just trading one kind of conservatism for another.

2. College: I probably made my parents crazy, but I only applied to one college. ONE. It never occurred to me that I might not get in. Unlike many of my friends, I finished in the major I started, a double major in vocal and instrumental music education. My choice of college drove other choices: proximity to home, joining a sorority, making the marching band, three bowl games, returning to church, job searches... But no matter where I go, I'm still and always a BUCKEYE!

3. First Job: I graduated just as music education in Ohio was being gutted by budget cuts. Talk about bad timing. I ended up with a teaching job in a rural school district that cared more about football than music, more about the start of deer hunting season than concerts. I can honestly say I stunk as a teacher. Which led me to apply to...

4. Graduate School: I ended up at University of Miami because they offered me a full ride. I learned that I really REALLY like four seasons and hate palmetto bugs. The program was challenging and rewarding (Music Therapy). And, though the friendships were intense at the time, I have not really kept up with anyone from Miami since I moved away. In order to finish my master's I had to do a six month internship, which is how I ended up in Bloomfield, New Jersey! Yes. A transplanted Buckeye moved to Florida, then New Jersey. I finished my internship in an economic downturn so there were no jobs in my field ANYWHERE. I took a job at a missions agency so that I could live near a serious boyfriend, who dumped me. (In hindsight? It's all good! Really.)

5. Marriage:
Two jobs later, working as a music therapist, after a broken engagement from another poor excuse for a male, (I'm being kind...) I met my future husband at a friend's wedding. A year and a week after that, we are married and move to Maryland. Twenty-two years later, we're still married, still love each other and I'm a year out from finishing my M.Div.

Now, tell me how a "Career Path" would have foreseen all this??? Somehow, I think I found a SPORK in the road instead. It's been less transparent, more quirky, and completely at the discretion of God.

What's next? No. Clue. First I need money for the last year of grad. school... and from there... I walk by faith!

I walk by faith, each step by faith
To live by faith, I put my trust in You.
I walk by faith, each step by faith
To live by faith, I put my trust in You.

Every step I take is a step of faith
No weapon formed against me shall prosper
And every prayer I make is a prayer of faith
And if my God is for me
Then who can be against me?

Words and Music by Chris Falson.
Copyright (c) 1991 Seam of Gold. All rights reserved

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Morning worship

Sing to the One who made us
Sing to the One who gives water and trees
Sing to the One to loves us
And cares for the very least of these

Sing to our God in heaven
Sing praise with the brightly colored birds
Sing to our God in heaven
who saved us by the Living Word

Feathered, furred or human
watch and sing and praise
Glory be, above, below
until the end of days.

"Morning Worship"
Deb Vaughn
February 26, 2009

Wednesday, February 25, 2009


dust thou art...
to dust thou shalt return...

I helped with an Ash Wednesday service this evening. It was a gentle, thoughtful time of reflection and prayer. I'm really glad I was able to be a part of it.

You might be wondering... what? aren't you one of those non-liturgical pastors?

Well... I am. But I 'm not ANTI-liturgical.

I am serving right now in a church that uses elements and symbols that are familiar to churches all over Christendom (for instance, prayer, baptism and Communion) but one which does not have a written liturgy. I grew up in various flavors of Protestantism so it's not like I've never experienced this before. However, as a pastor it was a new experience to help lead an Ash Wednesday service.

A pastor friend cares for a trio of small churches in here in Maryland. She divides her time among them, listening, praying, and caring, and the services are scheduled between their buildings. Solo pastoring gets to be difficult, so she welcomes my help and is patient with my inexperience.

In the quiet, cold church, there was time to sit and think and pray about the past year, and the upcoming days of Lent before Easter. Today on Pray-as-you-go the music and text helped me reflect and repent. Return to the Lord your God. Return...

Ash Wednesday is an opportunity to start over. To go back to GO or to re-boot. It's human nature that either we are too afraid or too embarrassed to try again. And yet we're invited... Return to the Lord your God...

We used a simple exercise for their time of reflection. I brought bits of broken sea glass and watercolor markers. Those present were invited to think about ways they would like to make a change, or to tell God about something in their lives where they were ready to repent. They wrote something representing this change or area of repentance on the glass and when they were ready, walked to the front and dropped them in the baptismal font. The lovely visual reminder of sins being washed clean -- clean because of the cross -- happened before their eyes. Some were bemused and some were startled as they slipped back into their seats.

Later in the service they came forward for ashes, and again, a new experience "from the other side"... Remember... Dust thou art, to dust thou shalt return.

The words of Joel 2 came to me...

12 "Even now," declares the LORD,
"return to me with all your heart,
with fasting and weeping and mourning."

13 Rend your heart
and not your garments.
Return to the LORD your God,
for he is gracious and compassionate,
slow to anger and abounding in love,
and he relents from sending calamity.

We are all broken people. The difference is that some of us have found a way to find healing, and hope -- when we return... with all our hearts. We walk about 364 days of the year with "clean" foreheads. Today, we had a visible smudge - one that God washes away.



At the Foot of the Cross by Kathryn Scott

At the foot of the cross
Where grace and suffering meet
You have shown me Your love
Through the judgment You received

And You’ve won my heart
Yes You’ve won my heart
Now I can

Trade these ashes in for beauty
And wear forgiveness like a crown
Coming to kiss the feet of mercy
I lay every burden down
At the foot of the cross

At the foot of the cross
Where I am made complete
You have given me life
Through the death You bore for me

And You’ve won my heart
Yes You’ve won my heart
Now I can

Trade these ashes in for beauty
And wear forgiveness like a crown
Coming to kiss the feet of mercy
I lay every burden down
At the foot of the cross

I’m laying every burden down
I’m laying every burden down

words and music by Kathryn Scott
© 2003 Vertical Worship Songs/ASCAP

Monday, February 23, 2009

The deeper streams of life...

I have been trying to articulate this passion, this dream that I have. I hesitate to put it into words. I fear being misunderstood.

...will the people I work with now be insulted?
...will I misrepresent this nagging heartache that I believe is from God? I overestimate my gifts and skills?
...can I fulfill whatever it is that
God has in store for me?

I've written around the subject, hinted at it and even occasionally stumbled into some semblance of an opinion. The picture is still foggy, but the vision from God is there. Deep within me there is a longing for the "deep streams of faith." (I have no other words to describe it.) It's more than a program. It's "life together" with family that spans generations and experiences... and I want to be a part of that, lead it, pastor it, see God do it.

In moments of doing tedious work and bean-counting, it seems like I'm chasing rainbows.

Every month I get together with three other women pastors. We laugh, cry, challenge, commiserate, and share our hearts. They are precious gifts of God! Today at lunch they gave me another glimpse of that which is "within" -- what I don't yet know but sense is ahead. The reminders to believe, to look, to pray, to wait with joy. That I can do. Every now and then I "get a whiff" and it blows me away.

It's deeper, sweeter, stronger and fuller than I can know, ask or think.

In God's time... it will be.

I believe... Lord, get me ready.


Sunday, February 22, 2009

I have promised my children...

If, when I am in something that could be called a "senior praise band" I attempt to participate in something like this, my children have my permission to remind me of this video....

I don't think I need to say anything else.

Friday, February 20, 2009

This song is STUCK in my HEAD...and it's all good!

This is a great song... we sang it last weekend on Chrysalis (a youth renewal weekend sponsored by the Upper Room) and it's stuck in my head! The original version by the writer, John Mark MacMillan is out there, but I think Kim Walker does a better job.

He is jealous for me,
Loves like a hurricane, I am a tree,
Bending beneath the weight of his wind and mercy.
When all of a sudden,
I am unaware of these afflictions eclipsed by glory,
And I realize just how beautiful You are,
And how great Your affections are for me.

And oh, how He loves us so,
Oh how He loves us,
How He loves us so...
And oh, how He loves us so,
Oh how He loves us,
How He loves us so...

We are His portion and He is our prize,
Drawn to redemption by the grace in His eyes,
If grace is an ocean, we’re all sinking.
So Heaven meets earth like a sloppy wet kiss,
And my heart turns violently inside of my chest,
I don’t have time to maintain these regrets,
When I think about, the way…

He loves us,
Oh how He loves us,
Oh how He loves us,
Oh how He loves.
Yeah, He loves us,
Oh how He loves us,
Oh how He loves us,
Oh how He loves...

Friday Five: Taking a Break

Songbird from RevGals writes from the frozen Northeast:

Where we live, it's February School Vacation Week!

Yes, that's an odd thing, a vacation extending President's Day. But it's part of our lives here. Some people go South or go skiing, but we always stay home and find more humble amusements.

In that spirit, I offer this Taking a Break Friday Five.

Tell us how you would spend:
1. a 15 minute break: Likely to spend it cruising Facebook or wrapping my hands around a warm mug of something. IT. IS. COLD!!!!

2. an afternoon off: Easy. A nap. A nice, long, cosied-up on the waterbed with a cat, NAP. (Can you tell the caffeine hasn't kicked in yet?)

3. an unexpected free day: "Free Day" as in no work, no school??? WOW. What's that? Well, I can dream... Probably persuade the Bearded Brewer to take off as well and take Metro down to an art museum and a leisurely lunch.

4. a week's vacation: The beach. I'm SOOooo there. Maybe pick up some family members to join us.

5. a sabbatical: I'd like to take a month or two at each of the following places:
(it goes without saying that I'd take the Bearded Brewer with me!)

- Ireland, probably near the Cliffs of Moher

- Hawaii (I'm sure they need someone for pulpit supply!)

- The Cascades mountain range

- Bavarian Alps (I hear a spa calling my name!)

- Northumbria Community (read more about it here!)

- Paris, for a cup of hot cocoa on our way home.

BONUS QUESTION: What break would I really like to have?
I would love to have family vacations, my vacations and breaks from our respective schools to all coincide. Because as it was last year, my kid's spring break is during Holy Week. And I will be in the death throes of writing papers. Actually, I have summer 2010 in my sights. I will finally be DONE DONE DONE with my M.Div.

(What will I do with my free time after I graduate? I know! Go on a sabbatical!! And maybe, just maybe, I'd come home after that sabbatical. I'll think about it...)


Thursday, February 19, 2009

Background Music

I'm working on a paper today, which is not my first choice with the weather warming up and the sun shining. But time is going to get away from me if I don't start hacking away at the research. In the background, I have Pandora cranking out an unlikely mix of music. (I have 14 saved "stations" from classical to jazz to Christian to harp, currently set to "Quickmix" - the most random "random" playlist ever!)

I just heard a series of Chopin Preludes played by Artur Rubenstein. My mind flashed back to junior high when we went to hear him play at a concert in our hometown. My piano teacher was one of the hostesses for a reception for him afterwards. I don't remember much about the concert, other than it was brilliant. What I remember is shaking his hand at the reception. My piano hands, relatively strong for my age, were completely engulfed in the massive muscle and thickness of his. With a polite bow, he released my hand to greet the next guest.

I can hear recordings of his music all the time. But I will never be able to recapture the impression of that one handshake.


Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Be the Center

This was one of the theme songs for Chrysalis 56...

And this was the other one...

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:1-2

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Quiet moments this morning...

sometimes... it's a passing shadow, a mere suggestion.
sometimes... it's fighting for the sunny spot on the carpet. and...
sometimes... it's choosing to walk away.

Cats. Imitating life and conflict resolution.

Sunday, February 08, 2009


the one thing i don't question is you
you really love me
like you say you do...

Paul Colman

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Take the long way home...

Courtesy of

It was bizarre... I do know how to get home from northern Maryland. But in my tiredness last night, I turned on the GPS and went on "autopilot" after a Chrysalis Gathering and party. And took the LONG way home (as in 90 minutes instead of the usual hour!) By the time I realized I had turned the wrong way, it would have added even more time to my drive. SO I just went with the twists and turns of northern Maryland, ending up north of Frederick and driving down I-270.

There's not many radio stations to choose from, so I ended up singing along with an oldies station playing Supertramp...

So you think youre a romeo

Playing a part in a picture-show
Take the long way home
Take the long way home...

When lonely days turn to lonely nights
You take a trip to the city lights
And take the long way home
Take the long way home

It would have been funny except that I was tired, had forgotten my iPod and my cell phone, and wanted to go to sleep!! And the next songs were other forgettable songs of the 70s and 80s.

Sometimes life is like that. You make a choice (or don't) and end up with more to muddle through than you planned.

I'm sure there's a million applications I could make with this... but right now, it's time to do my taxes. (Yeah. About that... The irony isn't lost on me, either!)


Friday, February 06, 2009

Friday Five: My Favorite Things

Songbird from RevGals writes:
In a week of wondering how various things in our family life will unfold, I found myself thinking of the way Maria comforted the Von Trapp children in one of my favorite movies. Frightened by a thunder storm, the children descend upon her, and she sings to them about her favorite things, taking their minds off the storm.

So, let's encourage ourselves. Share with us five of your favorite things. Use words or pictures, whatever expresses it best.

1. Photography: Capturing and creating images of things that I see, experience and learn about every day. Sometimes it is a fleeting picture out my window (like the "pink" snow at sunset a few weeks ago.) Sometimes it is a celebration or a family memory that I want to hang onto. But I really enjoy taking pictures and not really being IN them.

2. Music: If you haven't picked up on this by now, we don't know each other very well. It's what encourages me, refocuses me, and gives me joy. I love creating it, singing it, and experiencing it. I am a music snob (I admit it) so poorly done or out of-tune-music will drive me crazy. I do try to turn off my "inner music critic" but it's hard. I have a Steinway in my living room... it does not get the love and playing it deserves. I'm thinking I need to get back into the habit of pounding on THIS keyboard too...

3. A natural beach: The beach just not the same when there's boardwalks, T-shirt shops, restaurants and commercialization. I love the dunes. The sound of the birds. Finding a shell or shark's tooth. And having the loudest noise I hear be the wind in my face or the surf.

4. Buckeye Nation: Yes. I am a Buckeye. Win or lose. Always. I know the alto horn part to just about any Sousa march (hint - there isn't much variety!) and I love to belt out a variety of Buckeye songs. I'm ready for next season which opens on Saturday, September 5, 2009 in Columbus against Navy. And I will enjoy every minute of seeing the Midshipmen SINK.

5. This crew:
Bearded Brewer, Reedy Girl and The Harpist. I also love my extended family but the most recent picture I have of everyone is about 2 or 3 years old... So just imagine them all in there. They're definitely the top of the heap in my heart!

There you are...


Tuesday, February 03, 2009

HELP! Do you speak Welsh??

Do you speak Welsh??

If you speak Welsh and/or are familiar with the rise and fall of the number of fluent Welsh speakers over that last century/decade/whenever... I have a huge favor to ask!

The Harpist is completing her senior project on the question of how a language flourishes or fails, looking at several factors (government support, political factors, national identity, etc.) and MUST interview someone who has experience and/or expertise in this area.

She thought she possibly had someone... and they are continent hopping and will not be (or don't want to be) available for the interview...

IF YOU HAVE ANY IDEAS.... PLEASE leave me a comment with your contact info (email please?) and I'll be in touch with you ASAP!

We would be really, REALLY grateful!


Monday, February 02, 2009

small 'splosion...

That sound you heard was my temper exploding:

"Therefore the practice of using the same term to refer (1) to male human beings and (2) to the human race generally is a practice that originated with God himself, and we should not find it objectionable or insensitive."
~Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology

Aside from misapplying the Hebrew and ignoring half the human race... no problem. And what's with the royal "we"???

Words fail me.
And yeah. You can call me a feminist. Whatevs.

It's February... that means....

It's February! That means...

No, this isn't an ad for Victoria's Secret. It's a way to get in on one woman's idea of love and care for other women in her community. It's the fourth year for this little event, started by my friend Mindy.

Here's what she writes about it...

"Palooza is simple. You are going to chose some woman, women or a women's group that can benefit from something you can donate or do and DO it.

Remember....everyone can play and you can adapt the palooza to how you see fit. It is not restricted to just panties. In previous years it has included scarfs, shoes, diapers, toiletries and many other things. On my thankfulness list, I always list panties. They really are such a
blessing. Most of us have washers and dryers so we always have a fresh clean supply of panties. If not, most of us can hit the nearest Wally World and pick us up a pair! But, there are some women in our lives that do not have that option...that blessing. For some reason or other, life has been hard on them. Be it abuse, poverty, hurricanes or it it up to us to make a difference!

One chance encounter with a woman and one phone call is what started it all. I called our local Crisis Center and talked to some of the counselors there. If you decide to do that, please remember that there may be some questions that they cannot answer due to confidentially laws. They told me, on average, how many women are at the safe house at any given time. I explained to them what I was sort of looking at doing. They explained to me that they get things donated such as shampoo and lotion but it is usually the generic stuff. They suggested body sprays or lotions that smell nice. I will put those things on my list to pick up. I am also donating...PANTIES!! They told me that they can always use panties at
the Shelter in all shapes and sizes. If not a shelter, other suggestions would be just asking around and finding one woman to zero in on.

This is a hard holiday for a lot of people for many different reasons. Singles, widows, divorcees and couples having problems would just be a place to start. You are all very creative people and I just know that you will find the perfect person to touch.What about the chick that always checks out your groceries? Why not hand her a gift certificate for a pedicure? A Valentine left on the windshield of a teacher that explains that, not only are they appreciated but WHY they are appreciated. A Sonic card, McDonald's certificates, an offer to baby sit for one evening, an oil change certificate.....Come on! Put on your thinking caps and let me know what you come up with!

The outpouring over the last few years has been wonderful! I took the
advice of one of the woman at the crisis center and am donating panties in my size...that way I am helping some woman that is a lot like me.

If you decide to participate, please leave me a comment!! I want to know how far this reaches. Also, feel free to steal the idea and put it on your blog.....only good can co
me of it!"

SO... that's it. I'm going to be a part of it.. how about you?


Sunday, February 01, 2009

Sunday Heart Song

This song encourages me...

Lifesong - Casting Crowns