Friday, July 31, 2009

Friday Five: Child's Play Edition

KathrynZJ of RevGals writes:

While traveling with my 4 year old we were both pleased to find a HUGE indoor playground. Now he can maneuver himself around those things no problem but I have found myself at the top level of what amounts to a glorified hamster tube more than once either rescuing an article of clothing or The Boy himself. There was a small part of me saddened to find that I no longer had the convenient excuse to be a kid and go up in the playground, but mostly my aging knees and back were quite happy to skip the experience.

Maybe you are better at it than me, but my first-born, responsible demeanor rarely lets up enough for me to do frivolous silly things – like playing on playgrounds – without a good reason. My friend will stand up in a crowded restaurant and serenade me with an operatic rendition of Happy Birthday. My sister is very good at grabbing the joy in the moment. I seem to need a child to bring it out in me and even then… it takes a lot.

Today’s Friday Five celebrates the spontaneous child in all of us… or at least the one that we admire in someone else:

1) On a scale of 1-5, with 5 being I can’t do this now I am about to jump into a pit of plastic balls at the mini-mall and 1 being I can’t do this now until I can get all of the fonts on my blog to match – where are you?
Well, a "5" in my mind, but a "2" in reality since I'm still getting over whatever virus/bacteria decided to lay me flat this week. I'm pretty silly a lot of the time. (Hence, this picture...)

2) What is the silliest/most childlike thing you have done as an adult? Probably flamingo-ing my sister's yard one Christmas. It was memorable!

3) Any regrets?
Nope. We still talk about it.

4) What is the silliest thing you have ever seen another adult do on purpose?
Well, you see, I do Christian mime, so I've seen and done a LOT in this regard.

5) What is something you wish you did when you had the chance?
Waterski? Hanglide? Ride a mechanical bull? No clue really. I haven't done any of those things, and I'm a pretty happy person. :)

BONUS: For our ‘I told you so’ sides – what thing did you skip doing and you’re really glad you did!
This one is EASY. All of those "throw-up machines" at the County Fair or Boardwalk that people begged and begged me to ride, I refused, and they barfed afterwards. Still ain't happenin'...


P.S. Here's a moment of silliness with Reedy Girl and The Harpist when we were on Spring Break. Salvaged a rainy day by shopping and trying on all KINDS of hats. Tres chic, non?

Thursday, July 30, 2009

I have warped my daughters... and I'm proud of it!

I have warped my daughters... and I'm proud of it!

Next week The Harpist leaves on a mission trip. This is the third year in a row that she will visit the kids at the Casa de Hogar in San Luis Potosi, Mexico. Each year she learns something new about herself, and about God. And she gives away a ton of hugs, smiles and TLC to the kids there.

SOoo... earlier this week The Harpist was helping sort and pack toys and supplies for the upcoming mission trip to Casa de Hogar. There were lots of little things to sort. Little stuffed animals, plastic toy animals, etc. Everything was great except... she was told to sort them into BOY and GIRL toy piles. It bothered her that the boys got all the dinosaurs and toy snakes, and the girls got dolls and jewelry. And it flummoxed the team leader that she argued for letting the girls have dinosaurs and snakes, too. I guess it is predictable, though, since this was from a girl who has a pet snake... and whose favorite stuffed animal was a dinosaur.

But I realized as we laughed about it that I had taken a great deal of effort in her "formative years" (gad, what a phrase) to introduce her and her sister to all kinds of situations, events, and yes, toys. So when she was curing Rainbow Dinosaur of a "chicken pock" or tromping down enemies with Prince Caspain, I guess it made an impression.

Her sister is no less independently minded, rolling her eyes when she tells us about the girls she has at daycamp who are afraid to play in the rain, or don't want to get dirty. She has little tolerance for classmates who insist they must have the lastest fashion or they will DIE, and she resisted reading all of the vampire-du-jour series because she thought it was just a little, well, dumb as far as the plot goes. (No offense, Ms. M., but you could have been given a better editor...)

It just drives home to me the little choices that we make with our lives, as parents, role models and teachers have a bigger impact than we realize on our children, and on their peers. That I don't spend hours on my appearance each week has its own repercussions, I grant you. But I would rather raise daughters who have been taught to think critically, serve humbly and act kindly. And everything else... is really not that important.

Unless, of course, we are denying snakes and dinosaur toys to little girls...

Just proud to be a radical feminist mama...


P.S. We would appreciate your prayers for The Harpist and the rest as they travel to San Luis Potosi August 4-11...

[edited to add...]
P.P.S. To learn more, please see a video of last year's trip HERE! You'll find The Harpist at about the 1:30 mark.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

None but Jesus

We didn't sing this song by Brooke Fraser last Sunday, but it has been on my mind....

In the quiet, in the stillness I know that you are God
In the secret of your presence I know there I am restored
When You call I won't refuse
Each new day again I'll choose

There is no one else for me, none but Jesus
Crucified to set me free; now I live to bring him praise.

In the chaos, in confusion I know You're sovereign still
In the moment of my weakness you give me grace to do your will
So when You call I won't delay
This my song through all my days

There is no one else for me, none but Jesus
Crucified to set me free; now I live to bring him praise.

All my delight is in You, Lord,
All of my hope, all of my strength
All my delight is in You, Lord, forevermore

There is no one else for me, none but Jesus
Crucified to set me free; now I live to bring him praise.

- Brooke Fraser, Hillsong United

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Thought you'd like to know...

I have discovered the true reason for the demise of the Huguenots in France...

Nom de Church!

funny pictures of cats with captions
see more Lolcats and funny pictures

You heard it here first...

Monday, July 20, 2009

makes me chuckle...

So Abraham was a friend of God... and now, on Facebook, I am too. (Well, actually I am a "fan" but let's not get picky!)

Strong Tea...

I have been trading emails back and forth with a friend, another woman pursuing God's call. She's also taking seminary classes, though not where I am a student.

Our conversation has been centering around this question of pursuit, and knowing that you know that you ARE called, ARE on God's path, ARE listening to God's direction for your life's work.

It's harder than it would seem. There is this defining moment where you KNOW that you KNOW. This is God's Call to ME.

Get busy. Go love my sheep.

But then there's the questions that pop us. Life situations stir up your angst. Time management and focus get trashed when you are busy pouring into folks with needs, and then you realize not only is your laundry not done, you've had frozen pizza or take-out Chinese for dinner again because you didn't remember to start dinner before 8 p.m. You miss a birthday, a celebration, an "event" that you wish you had time to go to, but you are behind schedule and will miss it... (because you were busy loving and caring for God's people...)

Then you serve on a ministry team and get, well, slammed. You don't dress correctly. Or you don't "act" like a pastor, whatever that means. You offer some well-intentioned advice to someone who comes to you for counsel, and get chewed out for butting in. And the people who seem to spend their waking hours letting you know that you shouldn't "be" a pastor because they believe that the ministry is limited to one gender? Let's not even go there...

Can we get delusional? Sure. But when I've been stubbornly choosing the stupid, God doesn't drop peace in my lap... What I have seen recently is that in spite of change, and the fear of my next steps of faith... there is still that peace. Huge. God-sized. PEACE.

And when it's hard, that's what I hang on to. And I keep steeping myself in God, in the places where God soaks into my heart. You know - the places that you say - WOW. Hi! :)

But it is not in God's nature to give the go-ahead for an obvious step towards ministry, and then slam the door shut.

HA!! PSYCH!! I didn't mean it!

That's not in character with the Shepherd that I want to emulate, the Leader I follow.

Sometimes, you pursue an open door because it's there. And you think, "well, God may not want me to do this, but I am at least going to pursue it." Sometimes you are being led, step by step, into a new ministry challenge, and you didn't see it coming. You're ready, deep down, to give it a go. God says "yes - GO!!" and yet there are doubts.

It's a bit like making strong tea. You let it sit. You wait. You watch. You stir. You wait a little longer. And the fine, strong flavor comes out. Tea. Not brown water. And it all starts by getting into hot water...

So here I am... cooling on the counter... learning, growing, waiting... wanting to be as strong as I can be. I don't manipulate or change the process, or pursue another path.

I'm meant to be strong tea. I trust the person who cooked this up... Because I'm not the One who made the plants to become... Strong tea.


Sunday, July 19, 2009

Taking the other road...

Instead of obsessing about my paper (due this evening), I blew it off to go see Star Trek with my husband and kids. I know, I know. Just about everyone else has seen it. What can I say?

At any rate, mission accomplished. We saw it in the itty-bitty theatre at the multi-plex, a sure sign that it was about to leave the theaters. It was grand. Enjoyable. Altruistic. Funny. And had enough of that Star Trek ethos to make me happy.

The paper got submitted with 30 minutes to spare. I probably missed some typos and didn't get my Turabian formatted 100% correctly. But quite honestly, I don't mind.

Now, if I could drop the angst on this Church History final that's next weekend (and for which I have not studied, not even one paragraph or dateline) that'd be... perfection.

But I'll settle for a B.

Perfect peace and rest...

I'm enjoying my Sabbath rest.... how about you?

Friday, July 17, 2009


I am self-censoring, because what I would write would be fairly angry... So I'm just posting the link.

Why women are excluded from ministry... 'I just didn't think about you."

Friday Five: GAMES!!

Jan from RevGals writes:

In less than three weeks, my family, including children and their partners, will be gathering in Seattle, WA for 12 days. After various days in Seattle sightseeing and in Bellingham seeing family, we will travel to the coast of Washington State to spend three nights in a large rented house. With nine adults (from almost 20 years old and up), I am thinking that we need to have some activities pre-planned--like GAMES! (Any ideas will be appreciated.)

So this Friday Five is about games, so play on ahead. . . .
1. Childhood games?
Cardgames: WAR, Go Fish, Crazy Eights and Old Maid
Boardgames: Go to the Head of the Class, Parcheesi, Chinese Checkers
Outdoor games: Kick the Can, Capture the Flag, Horse Doctor, Freeze Tag,
Other stuff: jigsaw puzzles, the Labyrinth, Pick-up Sticks

2. Favorite and/or most hated board games?
Not big on board games, period.
Find another person for: Monopoly, Trivial Pursuit, Candyland, Chutes and Ladders, Clue, and the Barbie (tm) Shopping Game

3. Card games?
My family plays Four-Handed Solitaire on steroids! (It is like regular Klondike solitaire, but with all Aces to the middle for anyone to play on.) A few years ago, the Harpist brought home from camp the game Dutch Blitz which is hard to find but you can buy it on-line here.

4. Travel/car games?
Counting cows: You count animals out your side of the car. Every time you come to a cemetery, all of your "cows die" and you have to start over.
License plate game: I just heard there are fancy pre-printed pages for this now. We just used a spiral notebook!
Ghost: Spell words, one letter at a time going around the circle. Word have to be above 3 letters. If you end a word, you are 1/3 of a ghost. After you collect 3 losses, you "are" a ghost and the other players can't talk to you or they are "ghosts" too.
Croc count: (or if necessary "socks with sandals" count): Keep track of the number of ugly footwear combinations you see. Bonus if you find an employee of a company wearing them.

5. Adult pastimes that are not video games?
We actually enjoy the above-mentioned card games. Also Apples-to-Apples, Spoons, Taboo, Dictionary and Pictionary.

Bonus: Any ideas for family vacations or gatherings?
We have fun together. Menus get pulled together by the crew, and everyone has a turn helping. (In Girl Scouts we called it a "Kaper Chart" but it gives everyone a chance to be a part of the work. And the fun.) We also have an "Everyone's Birthday Party" including confetti "poppers," cake, etc.

Bring-alongs which help with kids are sidewalk chalk, bubble solution and wands, water balloons, water pistols, and the fixings for s'mores!


Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Photo Party - Abbey of the Arts

Christine invited participants to respond to this Photo Party Theme: Listen with the Ear of Your Heart

ears listen, eyes look,
hearing, seeing below ground
to the sacred source

I have five photos I am sharing today... each spoke to me when I shot them as having that "thin" place between heaven and earth where God spoke crystal clear. I hope they speak to you as well...

Archway in the ruins in Sanxay, France

When is it time to step through an opportunity?
When the timing is clearly God's, not your machination.
We can only look forward.
We can't look backward. All we will see then
is ruins...

A yellow swallowtail

This required sitting still. Making the "invitation" and watching,
waiting. And then celebrating...
The tiny feet were like fuzzy nails on my fingertip.
And its minuscule hand-painted beauty more lovely
than any stained glass window.

God put the sun to bed

We watched the sun set this one evening with amazement
as the cloud formations on the horizon slowly "put out
the light." Darkness came quickly.
Yet we knew, in the morning, it would be bright again.

The endless song of the waves...

Some things are best experienced with
a friend at your side... like the pull
of the eternal.

Two crab holes, some driftwood... God smiled.

I often think of this as a visible parable
of humanity's worth...
"do you not know that you are
more valuable that ghost crabs
who skitter by day and feed by night?
if I know the ways and the paths of a ghost crab,
don't I also care for you?

I'm watching for more "thin places." about you?

Friday, July 10, 2009

Tim Hughes - Everything

You may not know this song, but it is among the ones on my playlist with "5 stars" because of its focus not on "me me me" but on "GOD GOD GOD". If you listen to comtemporary Christian music, you know what I mean...

Anyway, when Sarah read my post on "God be in..." she reminded me of this song. It's still very much the cry of my heart that I be WHERE and WHO God wants me to be. And when that means change, as much as it is hard, then that is what I will do.


Thursday, July 09, 2009

She's 14 today...

Reedy Girl is 14 today. She's bright, caring, and fun. And we are grateful that God trusted us to be her parents...

She plays oboe, is an amazingly creative and caring babysitter, and quietly serves behind the scenes. You don't notice her at work until you turn around and everything is cleaned up or put away or ready to go.

She starts high school in the fall. For now, we are enjoying her around the house before the craziness of classes and events and activities start up again.

Love you sunshine -
Happy birthday!


Wednesday, July 08, 2009

God be in

God be in my head, and in my understanding;
God be in mine eyes, and in my looking;
God be in my mouth, and in my speaking;
God be in my heart, and in my thinking;
God be at mine end, and at my departing.

Sarum Primer, 1558

Today I started the process of sorting, packing, finishing assignments, and handing over responsibilities as I prepare to leave one job and begin another later this summer. I was struck by the promise of this ancient hymn... not just in the present "end" and "departing" but the future "ultimate departure."

The process of change and movement into new roles and jobs is not easy, but it is clear that the opportunities ahead of me are with God's blessing and direction. I have mixed emotions, but the plus side of accepting a different kind of challenge is so huge. I really can't turn it down.

In the wake of preaching last week, several conversations have been peppered with questions:
Are you SURE you should stop working for our church? (I can't do both!)
Won't you miss preaching? (Ummmm.... 2 times a year is hard to "miss"... just about anywhere will give me more opportunity!)
Why are you REALLY leaving? (OK, Captain Obvious aside - what a nosy question! - it is clearly a great opportunity and I would be crazy to not take it on!)
What will you do after you graduate? ("no clue" about covers it!)

This church was my first "Call" and, as one friend puts it, you never forget your first church. I am in this for the long haul and I know that there is a place where for me -- where, God only knows.

And that really is OK.


Tuesday, July 07, 2009


this song just kinda says it all...


I have been a wayward child
I have acted out
I have questioned Sovereignty
And had my share of doubt
And though sometimes my prayers feel like
They're bouncing off the sky
The hand I hold won't let me go
And is the reason why

I will stumble
I will fall down
But I will not be moved
I will make mistakes
I will face heartache
But I will not be moved
On Christ the solid rock I stand
All other ground is sinking sand
I will not be moved

Bitterness has plagued my heart
Many times before
My life has been like broken glass
And I have kept the score

Of all my shattered dreams and though it seemed
That i was too far gone
My brokenness helped me to see
It's grace I'm standing on

I will stumble
I will fall down
But I will not be moved
I will make mistakes
I will face heartache
But I will not be moved
On Christ the solid rock I stand
All other ground is sinking sand
I will not be moved

All the chaos in my life
Has been a badge of war
And though I have been torn
I will not be moved
I will not be moved
I will not be moved

I will make mistakes
I will face heartache
But I will not be moved
On Christ the solid rock I stand
All other ground is sinking sand
I will not be moved

Sunday, July 05, 2009

$3 worth of God

By request, I'm posting this poem from the end of today's message. Hat tip to Bruce for the idea and Scott for helping me find the whole text...

I would like to buy three dollars worth of God, please.

Not enough to explode my soul and disturb my sleep.
Not enough to take control of my life.
I want just enough to equal a cup of warm milk.
Just enough to ease some of the pain from my guilt.

I would like to buy three dollars worth of God, please.

I would like to find a love that is pocket-sized.
I don’t want enough of God to make me love a black man or pick beets with a migrant.
Not enough to change my heart.
I can only stand just enough to take to church when I have time.
Just enough to equal a snooze in the sunshine.
I want ecstasy, not transformation.
I want the warmth of the womb, but not a new birth.

I would like to purchase a pound of the eternal in a paper sack.
If it doesn’t work, I would like to get my money back.

I would like to buy three dollars worth of God, please.

I would like to hide some for a rainy day.
Not enough for people to see a change in me.
Not enough to impose any responsibility.
Just enough to make folks think I am ok.

Could I just get three dollars worth of God, please?

-Wilbur Rees

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Poetry Party: Always We Begin Again

Christine from Abbey of the Arts offers this prompt...

Theme: Always We Begin Again

I spent this past weekend with my Oblate community at St. Placid Priory. It was our annual retreat and this year I helped Sister Lucy facilitate on the theme of “Always we begin again” which is a line from the Rule of St. Benedict. One of the vows in Benedictine life is conversion which is essentially a commitment to ongoing transformation and recoginizing that we never fully arrive at the destination, we are always on a journey.

I took this photo while up on the Canadian coast last week. At low tide one day I wandered the beach gathering stones and creating cairns, carefully balancing one stone upon another. It became a meditation on my life. For me Benedictine practice is at heart about living my life in a renewing balance between solitude and community, between silence and conversation, between work and prayer, between all the elements of my life that demand attention and energy. I have returned from this retreat renewed in energy, focus, and commitment to my Benedictine practices. I am ready to begin again.

We are half way through the year, so I invite you to take this opportunity to pause and reflect where you are being called to begin again. Write a poem about your longing for balance or the places where you seek renewal.

~--- * ---~

This prompt comes at an interesting time for me.

My life is over full with school (boy howdy!), family (a husband of 22 years I love dearly, one daughter going to college, and one daughter starting high school), and friends. My part-time, 12-hours-a-week pastoral job was really eating up more like 20-25 hours a week, since Sunday mornings are not considered part of my "work" hours, and most people need to meet outside of the "church workday". I was up early to see kids and husband off to their busy days, up late to finish assignments or take my on-line classes. As my mom noted when she was here visiting for The Harpist's graduation, I looked tired.

In the midst of all of these activities, I had prayed for direction, for peace and for assurance that I was on the right path. Personal struggles and doubts were just assaulting my spirit. Several conversations left me fairly bruised and unsure. And in the middle of it, a fairly blistering critique of my personality and ministry style was the final kink in my personal gyroscope.

I cried out to God. I took a day to throw everything down. I asked,

"God is it this? Do you want me to give this up? Lord, is it this? What about this?"

One worship song (by Hillsong United) became my theme song....

Falling on my knees in Worship
giving all I am to seek your face
Lord all I am is yours
My whole life I place in your hands
God of mercy humbled I bow down
In your presence at your throne

I called you answered
and you came to my rescue and I
wanna be where you are

The answers God gave me were strange -



Be at peace.

Which weren't really the kind of answers I wanted...

About three weeks ago, my New Testament professor called and invited me to be one of his Teaching Assistants for the next school year. It meant a small stipend and help with my tuition. I was torn because I don't exactly see myself as an academician. Sometimes the arguments are so much like counting angels on pinheads, if you know what I mean...

I didn't give him an answer right away. He pursued me and we discussed what my hang-ups were. I was (and still do) feel inadequate to this whole ministry thing. So many people know so much more, can quote so much more Scripture, and can always find the politically expedient way to say things. I feel like a clumsy ox in a china shop, crashing this way and that. I don't like to play politics and too frequently speak my mind.

On the other hand, my "pastoral" role was mostly secretarial, frequently frustrating and was not offering me the service I knew I was called to do - preaching and teaching. How does a church offer that to a part-timer anyway, when there are good preachers on staff?

SO... the answer is that I am stepping out of a pastoral role in a church to be a pastor of sorts to new graduate students. I will be TA'ing for a course that students in Divinity take their first semester. My role is to teach, but also to listen, encourage and pray for them.

A year from now I will reassess and ask God what's next? But for now...

I rest.

I listen.

I am at peace...

~--- * ---~

This is the poem birthed out of this experience...

Longing. Searching. Dreaming. Believing.
God, I know you hold my life in balance,
Please wrest from me my selfishness, my angry words,
My hurting heart..
and heal me.

Standing. Walking. Preaching. Teaching.
Jesus, I hear your words in my ear,
Please show me how to live by example, by serving,
Tear the rough places away...
Use me.

Bowing. Praying. Fasting. Worshiping.
Holy Spirit, I surrender every facet, every part
Please guide me once again into your place for me.
My heart is warmed...
I am resting.
I am listening.
I am at peace.

Friday, July 03, 2009

Friday Five: It's all about the Look

(disclaimer: this is not my closet... but I can dream of being that organized...)
Sally of RevGals writes:

In readiness for my move in 6 weeks time I spent almost all of yesterday morning sorting through my wardrobe -- closet, I am so British :-) -- marveling at how I had accumulated so much stuff! The result is three large sacks full of clothes to be given away. Some came into the category of " what was I thinking", some too big now ( at last), and others I will never shrink into again. Some are going simply because I want to streamline my wardrobe.
So how about you:

1. Are you a hoarder, or are you good at sorting and clearing? In my family, I would be perceived as a "good" sorter (because I do.) However, there's a lot of stuff that I should and have not sorted. I run out of steam and give up. Now, when I am "on the wagon" with FlyLady, I do a better job. I need to get back with her again!

2. What is the oddest garment you possess and why?
Probably it is the collection of clothes for Christian mime. Several of them make my teen daughters shudder.

3. Do you have a favourite look/ colour?
pajama pants and a Tshirt... oh - you mean that I would let anyone besides family see me in? Blue.
4. Thrift/ Charity shops, love them or hate them?
I use them carefully - and I've gotten some great clothing there!

5. Money is no object, what one item would you buy?
Some more professional looking suits. I would also hire out Peace Bang to be my personal advisor and shopper. Combined with her expertise for correct professional wear, and Reedy Girl's eye for color and style, I would be perfectly dressed!!

And now I am feeling guilty about reading and working on my sermon in the hammock... should I go clean out a closet???