Tuesday, June 30, 2009

while I'm waiting on grades...

The wind might change and freeze my face this way, but somehow... I feel better.


Monday, June 29, 2009

Give me Jesus...

Morning, Lord...

Sunday, June 28, 2009

thoughts while a cat purrs on my lap...

The last week I've been studying for a church history midterm. I've been immersed trying to stuff dates, names, events and actions of the Late Middle Ages and the Reformation into my head. Actually, I was only trying to learn them long enough to dump them out on a test and then forget them.

The exam was made up of just essays. I survived it. While I don't have my grade yet, (I'm not holding my breath -- this prof is notorious for being S-L-O-W in posting them), I think I did OK. At least, if I remembered enough coherent facts in a sequence that passes for mastery. But here's what struck me as I studied. Over and over, the various factions and church leaders of a movement or sect would state that they were starting these reforms to take the church "back to the book of Acts." It was almost funny, except that it's a phrase that is far too commonly used to justify a church split. Especially today.

It's not like I don't have my own opinions. (I most certainly do.) And it's not that it's possible to have a perfect church (especially if you have an imperfect staff member like me on board.) But as I shoved these random facts in my head...

1453 Constantinople falls to the Turks
1512 Fifth Lateran Council
1517 95 Theses
1529 Marburg Colloquy with Luther and Zwingli
1530-31 Augsburg Confession written and published
1536 Calvn's institutes published
...I marveled at the well-meaning, studious, heaven-bent people who have gotten the church this far.

Yes, there have been crooks and charlatans. But over and through it all, God protects the Church. The Church lives on, moves on, and makes another step into the world.

And I guess that's why I am still studying. I'm a part of whatever that "step" is going to be.

Next....??? here we go, Lord...

Oh - all those dates I just spewed forth? not a ONE of them was on my exam!!!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

There is a River

Worshipping as I study - this song came on my playlist...

There is a river that washes you clean
There is a tree that marks the places you've been
Blood that was spilled, although not your own
For all of those tears, love will atone

So, give up the right
To control the waves that empty out your life
Above wild skies
Are the rays that break the shadows we design

Blessed, slightly stressed, clinging to God's promises...

Friday, June 26, 2009

AT&T is blowing this one...

I love my new iPhone but there are some things it can't do (besides the laundry, my taxes, and write my papers...) We discovered it can't send or receive MMS (picture text messages). Apple says the iPhone can do this. AT&T has not allowed it.


see more Funny Graphs

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Take off my shoes...

This may or may not be your cuppa because of all of the distortion in the guitars - but - just read the words. The poetry itself is a cry of my heart.

Take Off My Shoes

I’ll take off my shoes, I’m coming in,
Untie this rope, I’m staying with him,
Love of my life, I’ll live and die,
Just for the moments for my king and I.

Why did you call, why did you wait,
For someone so guilty, someone so fake.
There are no words for my beautiful song,
Now I’m in the arms of my Beautiful One.

Hold me, blow all the pride from my bones,
With Your fire.
Hold me, breathe on this heart made of stone,
Keep it pure.

I’ll take off this crown and fall at your feet,
The secret of joy are the moments we meet.
How could a Man with all of your fame,
Pull me from darkness and call me by name.

So hold me today, as I carry Your cross,
Into the desert to find who is lost.
Look at my hands, they’re still full of faith,
God keep them clean till we finish the race.

Hold me, blow all the pride from my bones,
With Your fire.
Hold me, breathe on this heart made of stone,
Keep it pure.

Hold me, Saviour of heaven and earth,

King forever.
Hold me, love of my life lead me on,
Through the fire, lead me on... lead me on... lead me on...
I love you....

Written by Delirious? ©2005 Curious? Music UK

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

A metaphor for love and life... and ministry!


If you're not a person
who likes to see snakes,
you'll hate this post...
just move along...

The Harpist has a pet snake named "Calvin" - (he's into the Predestination of mice, in case you wondered.) While she is in Germany, Reedy Girl and I are caring for his bodily snaky needs which include food (we will buy mice later this week), water (daily), a nice warm lamp and rock to bask on or hide under.

We try to handle him at least every day because though he is comfortable being held, but it has to be done consistently. He's fairly content with being a necklace, or in Harpist's case, a hair scrunchie. As reptile pets go, it's not bad.

And though I'm not big on the feeding part, I like mice less than snakes, so it's all good.

Except -- what goes in must come out. And yesterday he left us a lovely "digested present" to clean up in his cage. Of the three people left in this house, I was the one who got the honors. EW. YUCK!!! Sigh... OK.

I was apparently "the elect" in this case. Thanks a bunch, Calvin.

So as I cleaned his tank and set up the fresh lining and water, I realized that this really is a metaphor for love and life. In so many spaces in life there are messy people, messy situations and "a clean up on aisle 3." It really isn't something people just dream of doing the rest of their lives. (I mean, think about it -- it's fun to ride a horse, but who likes mucking out stalls, really??)

And pastors seem to end up in cage-cleaning mode a lot. Sometimes it is because we happen to just be available and there really isn't anyone else around. Sometimes it is because we are attuned to "messy" needs and lives and are Called to be a part of them. And sometimes -- itb's because it's a simple way to care for one of God's creatures.

Two situations with people I care about reminded me this week that it's OK to not like doing these "cage-cleaning" operations. But it is far worse to make excuses, blame or expect the snake to do its own cleaning when it's beyond his capabilities. Instead, I put my gloves on and go to work.

So as I cleaned the cage, I thought about all of the ways that God shows love to me, especially in those situations where I am really in a pickle and just need rescue, to be lifted "out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire..." as David prayed in Psalm 40.

God's mercy knows no limits towards me. So I'll continue to work on extending that limitless mercy to others. Even people I don't like. Even those who intentionally sabotage their own living situations. And yes... even snakes.


Monday, June 22, 2009

She's in Berlin!

The Harpist is in Berlin with the group from her school. They return to Pinneberg on Tuesday evening. All is well and she's finding a place to practice her language skills.

Waiting impatiently for photos... emails... Facebook notes...

(I'm such a Mom...)


Friday, June 19, 2009

Why I am struggling with church history...

According to my professor, "99% of the questions you receive from parishioners and others while in ministry are essay or short answer."

OK, I'll grant you that. But I do not (somehow) think they will want to know the answers to questions like this:

"Trace out the New English theology and the way in which it challenged the reigning consensus of Aquinas and Bonaventure."
"Discuss the context for and theology behind the Augsburg Confession."
(my personal favorite for irrelevance)
"Discuss in detail the Council of Trent."

I suppose if I worked hard enough I could find someone for whom these are day-to-day, "how do I deal with situation X" answers... At the moment, I am doubtful. And yes, I am rebelling.

Add to my frustration that he does not cover these topics in his lectures in any semblance of an organized fashion, and I have to root out the answers from thousands of pages of reading... I feel as though I am preparing for PhD orals or something.

OK, whiny rant over. Back to Cromwell.


FRIDAY FIVE: Life is a Verb

Jan from RevGalBlogPals writes:

Jennifer recommended this book, which I got because I always value Jennifer's reading suggestions. The author of Life is a Verb, Patti Digh worked her book around these topics concerning life as a verb:
Say yes.
Be generous.
Speak up.
Love more.
Trust yourself.
Slow down.
As I read and pondered about living more intentionally, I also have wondered what this Friday Five should be. This book has been the jumping off point for this Friday.

1. What awakens you to the present moment?
Something of Creation - feathered, furred, blooming, silent, singing, human, animal or plant. Something that pulls me out of the mechanical, intellectual, power-driven human existence and back to the Creator.

2. What are 5 things you see out your window right now?
leaves fluttering in the breeze
that elusive wren (I wrote about yesterday) singing on the fence
hydrangeas blooming
vines growing over the arbor
weeds... lots of weeds! (But I've left them alone so long they are blooming... how cool is that!)

3. Which verbs describe your experience of God?
running (to/from -- depending on my honest reaction to life!)

4. From the book on p. 197: Who were you when you were 13? Where did that kid go?
I was in 8th grade. Unsure. Not convinced I could do anything. Taking Latin. Loving reading, music, singing, playing piano. Dreaming of writing. Parts of her are still unsure about herself, but not of God. Instead of Latin, it's Greek, and instead of 8th grade it's grad. school! (LOL) The musician doesn't get as much expression these days. It is something I am working on... The writer is often confined into Turabian, and yet I am learning how to have my own style in footnotes and suppositions.

5. From the book on p. 88: If your work were the answer to a question, what would the question be?
Why did you wait so long to do what you know you need to do for God? (I was going to cop out and say "what do you do all day?")

Bonus idea for you here or on your own--from the book on p. 149:
"Go outside. Walk slowly forward. Open your hand and let something fall into it from the sky. It might be an idea, it might be an object. Name it. Set it aside. Walk forward. Open your hand and let something fall into it from the sky. Name it. Set it aside. Repeat. . . ."

I think I will do this later... maybe on my next silent retreat, coming up in July.


Thursday, June 18, 2009

She's on her way...

The Harpist is off to Pinneberg, Germany (near Hamburg) for 3 weeks as an exchange student. She's traveling with other students from her high school and our beloved Kaiser DeRosa (her foreign languages teacher.) Last autumn we had a Pinneberger here with us, and now her family will host in return. I'm so excited for her - and praying she enjoys the experience!

Updates as I get 'em. Pray for her safety and for God to shine through her...


P.S. That look comes with a free eyeroll.

wrensong and catsnores

This morning the Carolina wren is singing his/her heart out in the backyard. I can't see the wren, but the song is like liquid joy! Such deafening praise.

The cats are snoozing the deep slumber of the peaceful and trusting.

...and I have Peace. Huge, God-Sized, overwhelm-your-heart Peace.

God, you're so good.


Monday, June 15, 2009

Dusty Window...

St. Hilarie, Poitiers, France

In 2007 I was on a mission team to Poitiers, France. We went and assisted a small evangelical church there with outreach projects like a coffeehouse and an American "Thanksgiving Dinner." I often reflect on the people I attempted to talk to in my "Frenchlish" and how much I learned -- mostly, that I can't do much without God enabling me.

I took this shot through the windows of St. Hilarie as the sun was setting. The building was empty, cold and silent. While the physical structure was maintained, the visible Church was not there. I can be like that Church - not connected to the vibrant, dynamic life of God at work in the world. I don't want to live there.

It's not that God is not active and alive in my life - far from the case! It's the ways that I am still a dusty window - the Light struggles through, but who I am gets in the way. In my classes this week we are reading about Pentecost (seasonally appropriate!) and working with the ways that God shines through the Church and each of us as individuals... most of the time in spite of us.

I'm reading a devotional book right now called Women in Leadership - a pithy, short, thought-provoking collection of daily scriptures and meditations. Today's devo was on Job 2, where Job is given ample opportunity to complain, (or as his wife said, "curse God and die!") But Job made a God-honoring choice and as the story goes, he "did not sin in what he said." (Job 2:10)

I can't claim that same skill. So I either need duct tape or "a holy Dose of shut-up" when I am provoked the next time and want to shoot off my mouth. Perhaps my struggle is just that constant reminder of needing renewal, constantly, daily, continually...

This song came up on my iPod mix as I was studying this evening, and it seemed appropriate... so I'll stop here.


Why am I such a dusty window

For your light to shine through?
Why am I just a tiny star
In a sky already blue?
Why do I offer everything
With my heart closed like a fist?
I want to love You better than this

Why do I live like I'm in chains
When You have set me free?
And why do I have to break Your heart
Before I fall to my knees?
I know it's time to pray for change
Give all I have to give
I want to love You better than this

So renew me, Remake me
Undo me, Unbreak me

Come into the empty spaces
Of my broken places
And consume me, Complete me

Pursue me, Redeem me

Let Your Holy Spirit living through me

Renew me

I need Your power to renew me, Lord, yeah
I need to know You're moving through me, Lord

I need You as my refuge
My first and last resort
Be the river always running
Through my deepest thoughts
Keep me in Your arms
'Cause even when I drift
I want to love You better than this

My life bending to Your will
Seeking You until I'm more and more like You

So renew me, Remake me
Undo me, Unbreak me

Come into the empty spaces
of my broken places
And consume me, Complete me
Pursue me, Redeem me

Let Your Holy Spirit living through me
Renew me

Friday, June 12, 2009


This month we had two celebrations at the end of the year...

The Harpist graduated from high school... (Her regalia includes medals for her excellence in the humanities and arts program, music honorary, National Honor Society, and public service.) She will be "a Johnnie" and attend St. John's College in Annapolis next fall.

My mom traveled from Ohio to celebrate with us. Here's a three generation photo.

Reedy Girl finished middle school. She is pictured here with the Bearded Brewer.

She will spend her summer as a CIT in a county recreation program. And is more than ready for what's ahead...

And I am amazed at where the time has gone...


Friday Five: Trader Joes!

Sophia from RevGals writes:

Gals and pals on the West and East coasts, and a few spots in between, may know of Trader Joe's--a quirky, well-stocked, well priced semi-gourmet store that attains near cult status among some. I discovered it through my Aunt Judy, who always brought a couple of their desserts to holiday parties....The best was a chocolate ganache torte that had my four year olds begging for it (and among the only four year olds on the planet to know what ganache is, presumably).
My family has happily Trader Joe'd in southernmost California, up to the Northwest, and back down to southern Cal. And now we're really excited because today a brand new Trader Joe is opening up across the street from our apartment. Wahoo! There are sure to be lots of tasty free samples on opening day and from now on we can just walk across the street to get a lot of our shopping done. I have a new spiritual directee coming tomorrow and she has already mentioned that she'll be stopping in on the way here, leaving me to be jealous cause I'll be spending that noon hour like, praying and preparing and study-vacuuming and everything, and won't be able to stop in till the afternoon.
So in honor of the new Trader Joe's, this week's Friday Five is all about food shopping.

1. Grocery shopping--love it or hate it?
Hate it. It's a necessity.

2. Who is the primary food shopper in your household?
Me. Though the Bearded Brewer is really good at quick runs.

3. Do you have a beloved store like TJ's which is unique to your location or family?
We have TWO Trader Joe's near us!!!!! Love them! When we visit Cincinnati, we have to go to The Party Store and Jungle Jim's.

4. How about a farmer's market, or CSA share, as we move into summer? Or do you grow your own fruits/veggies/herbs?
I don't have a garden this year. I was realistic and knew that I would not be able to carry it through. I do have herbs that came back up this year. And I have some lovely decorative clover. It's a little early for farmer's markets to really be from this area... maybe in July.

5. What's the favorite thing you buy at the grocery store?
Ice cream. Sadly. Ice cream!


Thursday, June 11, 2009

Just another happy blogger

I know why I blog. I have this frustrated muse, or something. But then I wander and find places like these blogs, qnd I'm just so proud to be a part of the blogging community!

The Grocery List Collection blog - start with their "Top Ten" lists

The Church Signs Blog - Just because being cutesie on a sign is such a bad idea.

Ugly Shoes of the week - Since I've had my own "ugly shoes contest" I have a special fondness for this blog.


Wednesday, June 10, 2009

If you haven't failed...

This week has been hellish. Two situations in particular have been really hard.

One situation I handled with love and grace; the other is still slapping me around... Both because I am diligently, at times belligerently, pursuing God's Call on my life. As a mentor, pastor and friend once said, "If you can do anything else... go do it. If you can't, you know God's Call."

I am fortunate to have an amazing group of friends, family, and professors. They don't say things to encourage me because they "like" me -- they say them to remind me of God's hold on my life, to refine how I use God's gifts. In spite of their love and encouragement, occasionally I listen to "other" voices.

They distract.
And their words hurt.

And I wonder... who am I? Why do I do this???

Then a friend posted this video and I cried...

And afterwards I found a video that always touches my Spirit...

I'm thankful for struggles, for successes, and especially... for failures.

And I'm not deterred from where God has called me.


Friday, June 05, 2009

Friday Five: Moving and Changing

Sally writes:

The theme of change is dominating my thinking at the moment, this morning my husband Tim has headed off for an interview in Sheffield. The West Sheffield Methodist Circuit are looking for an Evangelism/ Mission Enabler, in may ways this would be Tim's ideal job, but we wait on God... ( if you can spare a prayer today we'd be grateful) ...Sheffield is a commutable distance from my new post as Minister in Sherburn-in Elmet and some of the surrounding villages, before Tim gets home I will have left to join the Leadership team there for an away day on Saturday, I'll be staying the night with the current Minister in Sherburn to talk over some of the practicalities of the post. ALL IS CHANGE.... and although I am looking forward to it, it is not without a sense of trepidation, as change always brings challenges. Changing location also means packing, so next month will be a month of clearing and sorting, deciding what comes and what gets left behind... So with change in mind I offer you this Friday five; ( if you've never moved here's a chance to use your imagination)

1. A big move is looming, name one thing that you could not possibly part with, it must be packed ?
A "thing"? My piano. Pain to move, though!

2. Name one thing that you would gladly leave behind...
Selected pieces of furniture which are not practical or comfortable. My dining room table and buffet, for instance.

3. How do you prepare for a move

a. practically?
I learned a trick from my mom. There was a "master" list on a clipboard. Every room had an assigned code, and every box had a number. And on the "list" there was a summary of what was in the box. Not just "kitchen" but "utensils" or "baking pans". Boxes I knew I would need earliest had big stars on them. I was not embarrassed to live on fast food and paper products for a few days.

For family items that would be needed quickly, I packed clothes and other toiletries in suitcases. (Just like a trip.) So no digging through boxes to find clothes, jackets, etc for about a week. I also included in each suitcase a towel and washcloth. Everyone had a suitcase and we lived out of the suitcase so that we were at least able to find the basic necessities.

Finally I had a "survival" housekeeping box. It had in it: toilet paper, paper towels, cleaning gloves, a few simple tools (wrench, hammer, screwdriver), a bar of soap, paper products and a set of dishtowels. Simple quick and easy set up for the stuff you need once the truck pulls away.

b. spiritually/ emotionally?
I said "good=bye" to rooms as they emptied. It was important. I needed a sense of closure and some kind of thankfulness for the place I lived. I think it made the change more bearable - it wasn't like I could go back!

4. What is the first thing you look for in a new place? Trees.

5. Do you settle in easily, or does it take time for you to find your feet in a new location? It takes me a while.

The bonus for today; a new opportunity has come up for you to spend 5 years in a new area, where would you go and why?
This is difficult because for various reasons, we need to stay where we are for about four more years minimum. I'd prefer it to be longer. So I don't really have a "want to go there" feeling about anyplace right now.

And I am really glad I am not facing a "moving experience" (that I know of, anyway!) this summer!