Saturday, June 12, 2010

I'm moving!

Blogger has been annoying inconsistent again!  I am moving my blog to WordPress this weekend. Same title... new URL:

You will be able to find my updates there.

Please update your bookmarks!

Saturday, June 05, 2010

Patience and persistence Friday Five

I also most didn't do this week's Friday Five because I still have not finished a loooonnngg rambling post form about 3 weeks ago... but I decided this was a good one to jump back into the blogging fray...

Sally from RevGalBlogPals writes:

As I write this I can see out over our newly set up veggie plot from my study window. When Tim and I moved here in August last year he set to work clearing the ground, this spring I began planting seeds indoors and out, and now the beds are full of leaf and promise. We have harvested some spinach and lettuce, but still have to wait for the main crops....

Patience is something that sometimes comes easy and sometimes doesn't, in the case of the garden it is easy, I can see the growth and know that waiting will produce good results. With other things patience is more difficult....

Along with looking forward to eating our own veggies, we are also looking forward to seeing four of our children graduate with Bachelors degrees this year, they have worked hard over the three years and stuck at it through some difficult stuff. It would have been easy for them to give up, but they haven't...

Persistence often pays off, but we need to be aware that it sometimes turns into sheer pig headed-ness...

With all that in mind I offer you this Friday Five:

1. Is patience a virtue you possess? If it is then does it come naturally, if not how do you/ did you work at it?
Bwah-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha....!!!!!!!!!!  Um. That would be no. I don't try to work on it, but as I go through life, I am challenged to live in a way that requires I develop more and more of it.  What's that old saying?  "Don't pray for patience, pray for grace."

2. Being patient with ourselves can be a huge challenge, we are often our own worst critics; is there anything you need to be patient with yourself with at the moment?
Re-learning how to be wife, mom, friend, etc since my studies are over and I "only" have real life to deal with on a daily basis. I'm in a time of transition and adjustment, and I need to extend grace to myself...

3. Are you the kind of person who can/ will persist with a difficult task? How much of this is personality related?
If my family were to read that over my shoulder, there would be loud guffaws. It IS the way I was wired to push through and get it done. When I procrastinate or let things slide, it causes me so much internal stress that I am motivated to release that stress!!!

Case in point... from the Zits web archive...

4. Can you spot when persistence turns into pig-headed-ness, or do you never get there?
No I get there plenty of times. Usually after the fact, I figure out when the optimal time to "let it go" would have been. I think I am getting better in this regard.

5. Post a song or a poem that chills you out and helps you to re-group, re-focus and carry on?
I believe the wise sage, Shel Silverstein has a great perspective:

Listen to the MUSTN'TS, child,
Listen to the DON'TS
Listen to the SHOULDN'TS
Listen to the NEVER HAVES
Then listen close to me--
Anything can happen, child,
ANYTHING can be.

Bonus, a picture or a photo that speaks to you of patience or persistence....
This was taken on the South Fork of the Potomac River (near Dolly Sod, West Virginia)

Friday, May 14, 2010

Friday Five: Family Tree Edition

Sophia writes:

I moved across country for a college teaching job last September, and my mother came to visit for the first time last week. We had a fantastic genealogical adventure tracing the family roots of her father's grandfather, who moved away from this state sometime between 1887 and 1891. 

We drove a few hours to their county armed with some names and cemeteries, and wondered if we could locate anyone. It turned out there is an awesome local history room in the public library, with a very skilled librarian library, and with her map and a pile of copied records we struck gold! We found, cleared, deciphered and took pictures of old weathered stones marking members of several family branches in four tiny country cemeteries--the one above is my fourth great grandma. Of particular RevGal interest, we spoke with a friendly and helpful pastor at the United Methodist Church (window above) on the site of the Presybterian church my fifth great-grandpa helped found in 1814! 

1. Do you have any interest in geneaology?
In a roundabout way. My parents and one of my older sisters have done the research and spadework to find the clues to our families of origin. They have spent years doing this labor of love! My parents have published several books based on their research. It's amazing what we have learned by their efforts!

2. Which countries did your ancestors come from?
Primarily the Palatinate (Germany and depending on the borders at the time, France/Belgium). Also a lot from Ireland and Great Britain.

3. Who is the farthest back ancestor whose name you know? 
Thanks to the research of my family, I can name relations on both sides of my family!

My dad's side emigrated from the Palatinate in 1740. Simon Hirsch was 18 years old. The family legend is that they left their home at night and escaped down the Rhine River, went by ship to Rotterdam, and then on to America. There was intense persecution by the Catholics at the time, and the legend has it that they left a candle burning in the window and escaped death or coerced conversion from Lutheranism.

On my mom's side, we know that the immigrant couple, William and Hannah Morrow, came from Calarney in Donegal County in 1787. At that time they had only a 2 year old son. They were also Protestants, and it is likely they responded to the pressures of the time (Parliament refusing Ireland's bid for sovereignty, spats within the Anglican and Catholic churches, poor harvests) and moved to America.

4. Any favorite saints or sinners in the group?
I've written about her before, but my thrice-great grandmother, Ellen Brown Hickox Stewart, was an evangelist in the mid 19th century. It's still my dream to write a book about her extraordinary faith and ordinary life. Her book is part of my personal collection.
The Life of Mrs. Ellen Stewart: Together with biographical sketches of other individuals : also a discussion with two clergymen, and arguments in favor of ... together with letters on different subjects, (yes - that is the title!)
What was most amazing about her was her resilience and faith as an abolitionist and suffragette long before either cause was popular. Then add to that her calling as a preacher and evangelist... and wow. My own faith seems very small!

(This photo is one from my family's archives. It was taken in Shawnee, Kansas in the late 1800s. Notice her bright blue eyes, starched collar and the bonnet!)

I guess Ellen would fall into the "saint" category, though I am sure if you shake our family tree long enough, the nuts will fall down in greater numbers.

5. What would you want your descendants to remember about you? 
Hmmmm....  My sense of humor and perseverance. That I loved my family and friends and that I LOVED life!  And maybe, just maybe, I'll get that great American novel written about Ellen...

Bonus: a song, prayer, or poem that speaks of family--blood or chosen--to you.
A famous relative (distant) is Louisa May Alcott, author of Little Women and many other books. Attributed to her is this poem:

'He prayeth best who loveth best
All things, both great and small;
For the dear God who loveth us,
He made and loveth all'

Friday, April 30, 2010

Band GRRrrrls

Last night was the end-of-the-year band concert for Reedy Girl. Though I know she dislikes the "Mamarazzi" I took my camera anyway. Thanks to my new zoom, I could sit in the back and get a couple good shots.

Entering stage right. Jazz band exiting.

Ninth grade band playing. 

Reedy Girl is in the center of the picture.

Band Grrrls. This is their 6th year playing together!
(L to R: Reedy Girl, French Horn, Clarinet, Flute.)

There. semi-annual torture is over... (But I'm proud of our girl!)

Friday Five: Friendship Edition

KathrynZJ of RevGals writes...

I spent the better part of last week on a continuing education cruise with a group of revgals. Both the class on hospitality and the connections made with friends (old and new) were phenomenal. I always have a difficult time with re-entry into reality from times away but this, aided by getting nailed with strep throat, has been more difficult than usual. Not only does it a take a few days (weeks? months?) for it to stop feeling like I am on a boat, but my heart misses my friends.

In parish life the boundaries are clear and they are there for a reason, but it can make the life of a minister a lonely one. It is such a tremendous gift to spend a few days with women who not only are wonderful and gifted, but who also get exactly what you do and why you do it. The hugs are genuine and free and the laughter is awesome.

Many of us have friendships - past and present - with these same qualities. And so today we will celebrate Friday with friendship:

1) Do you remember your first best friend? What did you do together? Are they still in your life?
Her name was Joann and she lived down the street. (At the time we lived on Rawlinson Road near Rock Hill, SC.) Her dad was (interestingly!) a Methodist pastor. She moved away after 3 years. I have not thought of her in years and have no idea where she is now.

2) Did you ever have to move away or have your best friend move away from you?
Both are the case. 

We moved from Ohio to South Carolina when I was 8 and then back to Ohio when I was 15. The move back to Ohio was not fun. But, because of family needs, it was necessary. 

In the recent past (around 2 years or so) a couple of good friends have moved (Sarah, Becky) and I miss them. 

3) Are there people in your life now that you can call 'friend'?
Oh yes indeedy. They are amazing.
4) What are some of your favorite things to do with your friends?
Laugh. Listen. Love. Learn. Pray. Cry. Read. Talk. Serve. Worship. Walk. Eat. Find my center.

5) What is a gift friendship has given you?
The gift of encouragement. One of the greatest blessings in my life outside of my family are some "RevGals" IRL. There are five of us. We meet for a meal once a month and do as much of the things I listed in #4 as we can. We try to be the kind of friends who are there to cheer, cry and watch out for one another. Three of us are ordained and done with school... Two are well on their way (having their first district council meetings in May! We actually met through being involved in Walk to Emmaus weekends. They are just a gifrt from the Divine. (Here's a photo of 3 of us... one had to leave early, and I was taking the picture. We need a pic of all of us!)

I look forward to meeting MORE RevGals IRL some day!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Not sure why...

NOTE: This "conversation" is a compilation of the things that have been said to me in the last month. The people in question didn't really want a response... they wanted to impress me (or get in a not-so-subtle dig...)

God, give me grace so that I do not develop a 'tude, nor be unable to stand for the high Calling you have placed on my life. And the rest... will get sorted out in heaven.

original post follows...

"Congrats on your graduation."

"Not that it matters. I mean, we all can study the Bible."
"You're right about that."

"I mean, you don't need a seminary degree to know what the Bible says. It's silly. All these people with degrees telling other people how to read a book!"

"So when are you getting a real job? You know --  one that isn't just on Sundays?"
"Well, actually I..."

"You know, every minister I know just likes to use big words and impress me with the Greek. Or Hebrew. SHUH KYE NUH. There! I know Hebrew too."
"Good one."

"Yeah. See? It's just not useful information. How many times do you need THAT word when you're going to work? I mean, I'm happy for you and all, but I don't see the big deal. You know, people who graduate from seminary are so snobby. They think they know more about the Bible than the people in the church. They act so holier than thou!

"Yeah. I don't get why it's so important. Are any of those fancy classes worth anything? Hey, thanks for seeing my grandmother at the hospital. She's been having a hard time since my grandpa died. I think she's lonely."
"Sure. Glad to do it."

"OK. Gotta run. See ya!"


Sunday, April 25, 2010

Morning Worship

I am so thankful for God's grace...

Saturday, April 24, 2010

TOP TEN THINGS I am going to do...

OK, so my last paper has been submitted. It's all over but the grades being posted...  WOW!!!  I am doing my HAPPY DANCE!!*

I can't remember what it's like to have less than a stuffed-full life. I'm kinda liking it, though. 

CPE doesn't start until June. Before then, we have Commissioning and Graduation, and then moving The Johnnie home from college for the summer. But, yes, I do have a wee bit more free time.

Not so much free time that I'm inventing stoopid things like this "To-Do-Tattoo" thingy. But since I keep getting asked, "so, what will you do with all that free time?"  I thought I'd make a list...

* NOTE: the letters A, B, C, D, E play different songs to play while you do your "Happy Dance." Make the little pipecleaner dude move by clicking on the keyboard as given or roll your mouse over them.


Here's what I've come up with so far...

1. Clean my study. 
While I have cleared the largest piles off my desk, I need to go back and find the stashes of papers that either need to be filed, shredded or reorganized. Yes, you can SEE the top of my desk, but it's pretty messy. I finished the taxes and stashed everything related to them in a big box. Bills are getting paid and shoved in another box. Not good. It's easy for me to miss a few that way. (YIKES!)

2. Cull my books and re-organize them and start compiling my reading list for the rest of the year.  Some of the books I know I will not want, so I have a massive sale list started on Half.Com (Pssst! Hey buddy. Wanna buy a book?) I do have some books I want to read for just FUN. (Wait. Is that allowed?) So if you have nominations, I'll take them. I will have to post what's in my "reading pile" later... it's in too many places in my study to be organized as of yet. 

3. Go through my closet.
There's stuff I won't wear, stuff that I don't need, and stuff that doesn't fit or looks dated and worn out. BUH-BYE!  I also need to think "professional work attire" which is different from "professional student attire" (rats!) and maybe do a little shopping to fill in the holes.

4. Enjoy my evenings with my family! Maybe see friends too...
Yes. Tonight, I have no paper to write, posts to put on Blackboard, or anything. I can get used to that.

5. Be a little better at planning and cooking nutritious meals.
My family has had four years of "desperation casseroles" or another nuked  "Healthy Choice" meal. I'm not that great a cook (and I don't really enjoy it) but before I'm working full-time, I at least need to plan better. That, and be organized so that I can dole out the kitchen duties when I am doing my CPE.

6. Weed my garden.
If they gave out tickets for messy flower beds, I would be bankrupt paying the fines. Unless I can figure out a way to cultivate thistles and dandelions and say that they are ornamental... naw... I like to garden. I just haven't had the time to do it.

7. Play my piano.
Most specifically my Mendelssohn Songs Without Words and maybe a little Bach. Which means, sadly, scales and arpeggios as well. I have lost a lot of technique.

8. Keep up my exercising.
We go to Tai Chi twice a week. I need to get something else in there three more days a week... hmmm...

9. Serious hammock time.
Yeah. No explanation needed!!!  Kinda goes with #2 anyway.

10. Tackle the overwhelming jobs in the house: the garage... the basement... the pantry... and try to bring a bit more organized chaos into our lives.
Four years of neglect and super-busy-ness show. We do have a 2 car garage... not that 2 fit in it. Time to have a yard sale or make a donation of "treasure" to someone! (And no, I won't take on your jobs when I'm done with ours.)


There. How's that for starters? I'll get around to leaping tall buildings at a single bound and solving the world's economic crisis once I have this other stuff done.

Friday, April 23, 2010


Henry, our resident boss cat, loves to snoopervise, especially if you are busy and don't have a free hand to scritch him. He also is quite curious. He decorated himself with some used post-it flags after rolling around on my papers...  RevDrKate thinks we need a caption contest -- so please feel free to come up with what you think he's saying -- asking for -- explaining -- or whatever you think is on his little mancat heart... just put your caption in the comments...

We await your wisdom. :)

Friday Five: what is there to smile about?

Jan from RevGals writes:

With the end of RevGalBlogPals' third annual Big Event, I am wondering who went and what it was like. There must be a lot of smiling from the Big Event! Hopefully, the rest of us are not frowning either.

So let us know how your past week was for you. Write about five different aspects of the week  OR answer the following questions:

1. When were you smiling lately?
When I finished a rough draft of my FINAL PAPER for my M.Div. about 1 a.m. this morning.  WHOOOO hoooo!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

2. What happened unexpectedly to you this past week?
Reconnected with an old friend (from our "pre-kids" days!) and will see her next month at my Gradumacation wingding.

3. How was a catastrophe averted (or not)?
Well, the popcorn in the microwave didn't set off the smoke alarm. I got a retching cat off the bed and onto the floor before a hairball reaction. I remembered to make a back-up of my paper (no small thing at 1 a.m.!) And I put my travel mug INSIDE the car before driving away... Sometimes I think I need to buy back my brain from eBay (it didn't fetch that much, anyway!)

4. What was the most delicious thing you ate?
Ooooohhhhhhhhh... that's a close one! It's between the cheesecake we had on Sunday and the fresh strawberries on my cereal this week... but I'm gonna go with the strawberries!  YUM!!!  (I gobbled up the strawberries before I could take a picture... but you'll have to agree the cheesecakes looked grand.)

5. Did you see any good movies or read any books or articles?
No, I confess to being in an edumacation hole this week... but we are hoping to see "How to Train Your Dragon" this weekend. AND celebrate our anniversary. AND parTAY for the end of my M.Div. (not that I'm excited or anything...)

My friendly co-editor and study companion, Henry, makes me smile... after rolling around on top of my desk he sat up with used post-it flags on his head. I was amused. He was not...

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Adding to the Conversation on the Emerging Church...

Crossposted at Emerging Village: A Call for Voices

I am a child of privilege yet a woman of many struggles. It took many years of painful “not listening” to God to finally agree that I was called back into ministry. As I’m nearing the end of my seminary journey (hallelujah!) I find myself not being drawn back into serving in a church, but in the community. (Specifically, the chaplaincy.)

It partially my own fault (call it stubbornness, cluelessness or naivete), or the machinations of others (in the form of prejudice, “the stained glass ceiling” or doctrinal stalemates) that I have not moved into ministry until now. What is more important is that I see myself as a prayer, mentor, coach and encourager of those who listened to God at a younger age and are invested in what God wants to do next.

I’d love to see my daughters move into their giftedness without the roadblocks I faced, and in a church that celebrates their contributions.

I’d like to have my neighbors see Jesus in me.

And I hope that the days God helps me get it right outnumber the days I screw up…

And in the middle of all this will come another blog post…

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Synchroblog: What is Emerging?

Emerging Women and Emergent Village are having a synchroblog today...

A number of bloggers are participating today in a Synchroblog on “What is emerging?” While there is room (and need for) discussions regarding what needs to change and heal in the emerging conversation, it can also be helpful to here about where people see hope. This synchroblog was a way for a diversity of voices to tell of where they find hope in what is emerging in the church. From personal experiences to theological reflection, these posts (while not always in agreement) serve simply as witnesses to what is developing in the church today. I encourage you to read these posts, join in on the discussion, and acknowledge the differing voices that make up this conversation. If you want to contribute a post to the Synchroblog leave a link here to add yours to the list.

Where do I see hope? I am quite moved by the work of the Spirit in recent months and weeks...

- People can see that the job is not "done" and there are more conversations for the journey yet to come

Aside from those who have suggested the emergent movement is "dead," I hear in response the heart cries of many who remind us that it is not an "American" church we are a part of, but a global one. Maybe there are issues which have become moot in many people's estimations, but the overwhelming noise I hear is among those who are growing more frustrated with those who are insistent on complementarian roles for men and women, want strict adherence to hierarchical organization and a lack of conviction that all of Creation, people included need care and restoration. The job is not done.

-  My daughters will be better equipped than I was to live as they believe, simply because they "get it" that relationships matter

They show me by their conversations and their friendships that it is not necessary to "go out and evangelize" but they are living the convictions of their hearts. If my teen-aged daughters can do it, so, by God's grace, may I. And I pray that I will remember I do not advance the Kingdom if it is by beating down all those who don't agree with my hermeneutic, or my agenda.

- I see ever-widening possibilities for women and minorities to "have a seat at the table" in these discussions

Yes, most of the seminaries, books, articles and blogs are written by white males. But there is an ever-increasing number of theologians, writers, bloggers and philosophers who respect the roots of Christendom, but are not bound by its anglo-centric views.

My thinking, writing and blogging continue to pull me into deeper questions and honest prayers to God -- because since I am in it "for life" I'd like to do a better job of it all.

Join the discussion at Emerging Women or Julie Clawson's blog...

Attempting to reframe the question...

I spent the first couple years of seminary trying to get the answers to my questions... now as I am finishing, I think it is more appropriate to reframe the question...

However, I'm still cogitating on how to explain that!  More later...

Tuesday, April 20, 2010


The Westboro Baptist "Church" annoys me beyond words. I simply have to love the people who came up with this:

Read all about it HERE!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Heart song...

Worship song on my heart tonight...

Blessed to be loved...

Friday, April 16, 2010

FRIDAY FIVE: Pack Your Bags Edition

Songbird from RevGals writes:

I'm preparing to pack my bags for the Big Event Three, and as I gather what I need I'm thinking about just that: what do I *need* to take with me? As a person who likes to pack light, I worry that in the end I may underpack and wish I had other things with me.  I own the gigantor version of the bag to the right, but my morbid fear of having it go astray and not get to the ship means I'm more likely to try to pack it all in a carry-on bag instead, especially since I have a very tight connection on the way to the cruise. But won't I be sorry if I don't bring _______________?
With that in mind, here are five questions about packing to go on a trip.

1) Some fold, some roll and some simply fling into the bag. What's your technique for packing clothes?
A combination of rolling and folding clothes works the best. Things that are forgiving (like jeans and tshirts) get rolled. Socks and underthings are carefully stuffed in empty spots. Usually I have to re-pack my bag because I forget something that should go at the bottom (shoes, for instance). Actually the best packer in my family is Bearded Brewer, with Reedy Girl a close second. The Johnnie and I are not so good, but we are learning.  (I think there is a "packing gene" -- don't you?)

2) The tight regulations about carrying liquids on planes makes packing complicated. What might we find in your quart-size bag? Ever lose a liquid that was too big?
I have a medications bag and a toiletries bag. I don't try to fit my medications into that precious quart bag any more. Once I found out that medication were exempt, I didn't stress so much. My airplane bag has: shampoo, lotion, liquid soap, deodorant and toothpaste.

PET PEEVE: I want my toiletries in my usual unscented (or not perfume added) choices. Unfortunately, there are NO unscented deodorant travel sizes out there. :(

I had to argue one time to take my medications with me. Since they were all with prescription labels on them, I was fine. (Note: Even over-the-counter meds should have a pharmacy sticker on them to avoid the quart bag limit. My pharmacist printed out a bunch of "use as directed" labels for me with my name on them.)

3) What's something you can't imagine leaving at home?
Asthma medications. Depending on the season, my nebulizer goes with me, too.

4) Do you have a bag with wheels?
OH yes. And I loves it, I does. And my luggage set is slightly smaller than the one in my photo...

5) What's your favorite reading material for a non-driving trip (plane, train, bus, ship)?
I'm trying to remember what I read when I wasn't hauling theology books! I'm guessing some kind of novel where I can "fall in" to the story and let it help pass the time.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

The Model Seminarian (Reprise!)

It seems ONLY fitting! I am reposting this ditty from my first semester at Regent. 
23 days until graduation!


With apologies to Gilbert and Sullivan
and "The Pirates of Penzance"
(but please feel free to sing along!)

am the very model of a modern seminarian
I've information critical of languages grammarian
I know the verb and tenses of languages antiquarian
And quote from Aramaic and now even some Sumarian..

I'm very well acquainted, too, with matters analytical
I parse and line my Greek, both the simple and emphatical
I read my ancient Hebrew text with understanding little
Though profs tell me I must attend to every jot and tittle!

Though profs tell her she must attend to every jot and tittle!
Though profs tell her she must attend to every jot and little tittle!

I know biblical history, from Aristotle to McLaren
I've know all methods, points and sermons capable of reaching 'em
I hobnob with all leaders in the field of missiology
And hold my own regardless of one's view on eschatology

I'm very good at ancient earth and natural theology
I am the one who can defend most facts of anthropology
In short, in matters dogmatic or egalitarian
I am the very model of a modern seminarian!

In short, in matters dogmatic, or egalitarian
She is the very model of a modern seminarian!

With all my holy knowledge I'm quite plucky and adventure-y
My Call has not been questioned since the starting of the century
But still, in matters dogmatic, or egalitarian
I am the very model of a modern seminarian!

But still, in matters dogmatic, or egalitarian
She is the very model of a modern seminarian!

YES! I am the very model of a modern seminarian!

I've been humming it all day...

Monday, April 12, 2010

It's the little things...

This weekend a little neighbor left this bouquet on our front doorstep. I found it as we were doing some afternoon chores. We don't know which child left it for us to find, but it touched my heart. The detail, the variety, the care taken to tie it carefully with a small piece of twine. It was a sweet reminder of the beauty seen in another's eyes.

It truly is the "little things" that remind me of God's work in my life.

...a reminder that though our girls are past the dandelion-gathering stage, that we can still have an impact on the kids on our street.

...a reminder of the fragile beauty of life.

...a reminder of the variety and intricate detail that God paints into every leaf, tree and flower of Creation.

...a reminder that every day, every moment, God calls me to remember the care and love that is showered my way.

Ginny Owens wrote a simple prayer of dedication and remembrance... it's how I'm starting my day today.

How does doubt slip in, so silently?
And why does condemnation come so naturally?
Why do I still get the best of me?
Loving so little and living so selfishly?

When all I want to do, is give this life to You.
All I want to do is give this life to You.
All I want to do is give this life to You,
and let Your will be done 'til it's all I want to do.

And what have I been given by Your grace?
Will I come to understand this mystery I embrace?
Make of me a new creation now,
Fill me with all you are and be all I am some how.

'Cuz all I want to do is give this life to You.
All I want to do is give this life to You.
All I want to do is give this life to You
And let Your will be done, 'til it's all I want to do.

Faith so fragile
Reaching for Your hand

All I want to do, is give this life to You
All I want to do, is give this life to You
All I want to do, is give this life to You
And let Your will be done, until it's all I want to do.

Sunday, April 11, 2010


The final uphill climb begins...  This is ALL that is left to be DONE!!!!!  

Revelation Song

Worship today...

Friday, April 09, 2010

Friday Five: On the Road Again Edition

Sophia from RevGals writes:

My family is heading out to my husband's parents for the weekend later today. They would have preferred that we come at Easter, but I preferred that my choir director not bring my life to an early end! (Five liturgies to sing between Thursday and Sunday, two with major solos). So Low Sunday it is. 

Some Gals and Pals may have been able to travel to join family or visit a vacation spot last week; some who had to stay put then may be traveling this weekend; and, if I recall correctly, some lucky ones are heading out to the Big Event next weekend. Hence: a road trip Friday Five.

1. When was your last, or will be your next, out of town travel?
OUR LAST TRIP: We just got back from a short trip to western Pennsylvania to see the Frank Lloyd Wright houses, Fallingwater and Kentuck Knob. Here's pictures from both...

(Fallingwater: photos of house not allowed... God's architecture, however, is OK.)

(back terrace of Kentuck Knob)

(Youghiogheny River - Falls in Ohiopyle State Park)

(Flowering trees... heralding spring.)

(Breakfast area at the B&B where we stayed -- Hartzell House)

OUR NEXT TRIP:  When I graduate!!!!!! WHOOP WHOOP!!!

2. Long car trips: love or loathe?
While there are good things that can come from them (a captive audience for a good conversation, for instance), I am not a fan. They are a necessity when airfare prices are so extravagant!

3. Do you prefer to be driver or passenger?

4. If passenger, would you rather pass the time with handwork, conversing, reading, listening to music, or ???
Usually conversation and music... I get carsick too easily!

5. Are you going, or have you ever gone, on a RevGals BE? Happiest memories of the former, and/or most anticipated pleasures of the latter?
Haven't made  B.E. yet... but hope to some day.

6. Bonus: a favorite piece of road trip music.
I confess to loving classical music. Especially Vivaldi!

A good day for reflections...

Just thought I'd share this Sara Groves song... perhaps other people need God to "speak up" a little...

Hello Lord, it's me your child
I have a few things on my mind
Right now I'm faced with big decisions
And I'm wondering if you have a minute, cuz
Right now I don't hear so well
And I was wondering if you could speak up

I know that you tore the veil
So I could sit with you in person
And hear what you're saying but
Right now, I just can't hear you.

I don't doubt your sovereignty
I doubt my own ability to
Hear what you're saying
And to do the right thing
And I desperately want to do the right thing
But right now I don't hear so well
And I was wondering if you could speak up

I know that you tore the veil
So I could sit with you in person
And hear what you're saying but
Right now, I just can't hear you.

And somewhere in the back of my mind
I think you are telling me to wait
And though patience has never been mine
Lord, I will wait to hear from you
Oh Lord, I'm waiting on you

Right now I don't hear so well
And I was wondering if you could speak up

I know that you tore the veil
So I could sit with you in person
And hear what you're saying but
Right now, I think you're whispering

Friday, April 02, 2010

Friday Five: Good Friday

Sally from RevGals hosts this week's Friday Five:

It seems almost irreverent to post a Friday Five on Good Friday, so I will try to treat it with some respect. I am still mulling over the darkness of last nights Tenebrae Service, the silence as we left was profound, and although I travelled home with others we did not speak, there was a holiness about it.....and yet we know that holiness was born of horror!
So as we enter into this darkest of days I offer you this Friday Five:

1. Of all the gospel accounts of the crucifixion, which one stands out for you, and why?
John speaks to me because the writer includes the very human frailties of the disciples and even his mother. He shows how they do not understand what Jesus is doing, or why God seems to have suddenly "changed" directions. Their doubts, questions and confusion ring tanglibly in my own.

2.Do you identify with any people in this account, how does that challenge you?
Like Peter - I let my doubts run away from me, and pull me from God.
Like Mary - I want more than what God has planned
Like Pilate and the Pharisees - I don't want my privately ordered world to be re-arranged or shaken up.
Like the soldiers - I am callous and indifferent to the suffering around me -- until God gets my attention with a thunderclap
Like the disciples - I struggle with my  fears and unbelief in the face of that much love and sacrifice.

3. Hymns or silence?
I usually use a combination. Music to get me focused. Silence to be quiet in the Presence. Today on pray-as-you-go I was drawn into prayer by the music of Antonio Lotti -- the piece Crucifixus from Exultate Deo is lovely, haunting and a soft reminder of the suffering Christ went through for my sin.

4. Post a poem or a quote that sums up Good Friday for you?
The words to Orlando Gibbon's Drop, drop slow tears speak to me. I posted a music video of them here...

Drop, drop, slow tears, and bathe those beauteous feet,
which brought from heaven the news and Prince of Peace.
Cease not, wet eyes, His mercies to entreat;
to cry for vengeance sin doth never cease.
In your deep floods drown all my faults and fears;
nor let His eye see sin, but through my tears.

5. Is there a tradition you could not be without, a tradition that makes Good Friday, Good Friday?
Not being on church staff this year, I find it a bit difficult. Also being from a non-liturgical church, there seems to be little to make this day any different from the rest of the calendar. We will be gathering with friends for dinner tonight, which seems altogether appropriate. I have spent more time in reflection and writing this morning... the promise of Spring, of Easter morning, is shining outside my window this morning.

Glory be to God for the marvelous work of the cross!
I am blessed and encouraged.

We adore you Oh Christ 
and we praise You
because by Your holy cross 
You have redeemed the world.

Good Friday

This is my Good Friday homily - I don't have a pulpit to preach it in, but it's what is on my heart today...

"Do you now believe?" Jesus replied. "A time is coming and in fact has come when you will be scattered, each to your own home. You will leave me all alone. Yet I am not alone, for my Father is with me. I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world."
After Jesus said this, he looked toward heaven and prayed:
"Father, the hour has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you. For you granted him authority over all people that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him. Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. I have brought you glory on earth by finishing the work you gave me to do. And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began."
John 16:31-17:5

There are times I am very grateful I do not know everything that is going to happen in my life. And then there are times when I desperately want a peek into the future. I guess that I am in good company, as the men and women who were with Jesus as he walked and taught in Galilee. They faced the same issues. They wanted to be given privileged positions and confirmed answers to their questions.

This passage always chills me a little, as Christ was given a spiritual insight into the hearts and lives of the disciples and the tests ahead of them. Yet Jesus' prayer was focused on the work he was about to do on the cross, and moved by the Spirit to ask for the strength to be obedient until his death.

It's one thing to pray for answers to the questions you have for the future. It's quite another to pray, knowing what you must give up in order for God's will to be done. The wrenching that must have been in Jesus' heart as he prayed must have been exquisite.He believed in the ultimate best for them all - and desired above all else to bring glory to God.

This particular prayer of Jesus came at the end of a week that started with joy and triumph and proclamations of the Kingdom of God. And it came on the precipice of a painful weekend, when the hard truth of death and the pain of loss would be keenly felt. Those who ran away from the cross and the persecution of the Christ had no clue that God had already made a way. That is the message of the Cross - that God has made a way.

We may be in a rocky Good Friday in our lives, when everything we've hoped and believed is crashing down around our heads...

  • It might be a financial disaster.
  • It might be a relationship that seems broken beyond repair.
  • It might be emotional pain that exceeds anything you have ever faced.
  • It might be a diagnosis that sends you into a panic.
  • It might be the realization that you have made a huge error, and have to 'fess up to it, facing the consequences.

I have been in those moments. It is beyond scary. It seems impossible.

Jesus quoted the words of David in Psalm 22 as he hung on the cross:

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, from the words of my groaning?

Words of pure pain. Raw emotion. Doubt. Maybe even anger. Jesus knew these feelings intimately.

That same Psalm bursts into words of faith and promise a few verses later:

All the ends of the earth shall remember and turn to the Lord, and all the families of the nations shall worship before you. For kingship belongs to the Lord, and he rules over the nations.
Words of faith. Hope. Trust. They are true for us today.

There is nothing that is beyond the reach of Grace. Nothing that can't be lived out with God's love motivating you. Good Friday and Silent Saturday are hard stretches, believe me, I know. The pain is real -- and if you are living there, I do not want to minimize it. God seems far away. The answers are not easy, when you do finally hear them. And no amount of positive thinking will take away the pain of sin in the human race. Only Grace does that.

But Easter has come. Hope is there.

I have walked in some pretty rough spots, seeing the empty cross and tomb in front of me. But I have also seen God's faithfulness.

Perhaps you are in that place of worry or fear or just exhaustion. The love of God is real and tangible. It was given center stage almost 2000 years ago in the birth and death of Jesus, the Christ. It comes to us, new, fresh and real every morning. After long, dark nights of waiting.

I will watch and pray with you - and believe for you if you are in a space that makes belief difficult. If you look around you and ask for confirmation of God's love and care for you, the evidence will come pouring into your life. In fact, here's my challenge to you --

Take a moment - grab a piece of paper - and write down all the good things in your life. If you need help, try the alphabet. A is for apples and Aunt ___ -- B is for buds on the trees... keep going. (Good luck with Q and X!)
It sounds simple, but when we are in these moments of worry or fear or living with what seems to be insurmountable odds, reminding ourselves of God's faithfulness can build a swell of hope in our hearts. Hope builds our faith. And faith helps us keep walking - towards the sunrise of Easter morning.

Let us pray:

We who often beg for answers are scared when we finally receive them.
Walk with us in the dark stretches of Good Fridays and Silent Saturdays.
Show us the pinprick of light that is the reality of Easter Sunday.
We believe in your love.
We thank you for your Son, Jesus, the Christ,
Who died, and rose again and lives again with you - One God, Father, Christ, Holy Spirit...

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Music for Maundy Thursday

Drop, Drop Slow Tears
Orlando Gibbons

by Matt Redman

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Palm Sunday

Today was the start of Holy Week. Had I not been attuned to it, and had been pondering it all week, it could have slid by unnoticed. The problem of missing a holy day isn't in where one worships and how "liturgical" the design of the worship is... the problem is that in our self-absorbed lives we can go happily along and just... forget.

As I think on this, I think it's a lack of understanding. What seems to "matter" is based on the perspective at the moment. What's urgent? What's most pressing? Rarely is the crisis at work really that urgent... unless you work in an E.R.! We lack understanding because we lack perspective. It's like viewing life in 2-D instead of 3-D.

In the time of Christ, this was part of the issue as well. They could not understand a rabbi who trashes all of their greatly loved traditions (not the Scriptures -- the traditions! there's a difference!) They puzzled over his condemnation of their attempts to be holy and to enforce holiness. They grumbled when he did not "respect" them and their learned teachings.

Yet... as I ponder it and I read the story of Christ's entry into Jerusalem, it hits me... The same crowds that yell "Hosanna! Here is the King!" will yell "Crucify him!" later in the story. They follow the loudest voices, the most urgent and strident ones. From the perspective "on the ground" this makes no sense. From the perspective of heaven, it works. There is a far bigger plan than we realize.

So much of life is like that.

We yammer. God works. We whine. God works. We browbeat. God works.

Many times in ways we don't expect. And many times, in spite of what we ask for and pray for.

My Hosannas today were offered as I saw the faces of transformed people. When I hugged a friend. When I  put a flower in someone's hand. When I sat with my family and enjoyed a day off from my studies. When I listened to the St. Matthew Passion and heard words of hope. And promise.

Christ IS our salvation. Christ IS our Lord. Despite my forgetting or ignoring this truth.. those facts don't change.

Tonight in my evening reading, I found these words...
Return to your stronghold, O prisoners of hope;
today I declare that I will restore to you double.
[Zephaniah 9:12]

I could give you a big exegetical or historical explanation for those words... and that would be very scholarly of me. .But I think that would miss the real point. It's simply this -- I am a prisoner of HOPE. And that is where I want to live out my life.

It's messy. And frequently, I do it wrong. But God is indeed in it.


Friday, March 26, 2010

Friday Five: Redo, Refresh, Restore

Songbird from RevGalBlogPals writes:

We're in the thick of it in church life as we approach the end of Lent. Palm Sunday and Holy Week await. In the midst of this busy-ness, I undertook a little redecorating here at RevGalBlogPals and found a new template for us.  [note from Deb - it looks great, Songbird!]

It's the sort of task I like in the middle of chaos, a chance to redo something, to refresh the way I feel, to restore some sense of order.

Please share with us five ways you redo or refresh or restore your body, your space, your blog, anything in your life that needs perking up this week.


I'm in dire need of some rest and remodeling, so this is a good way to think about what it is I need to do to refresh myself a little...

1. My Body: I did go get a pedicure this week. It was my first one in a LONG time. Now I understand why so many RevGals insist it is a necessary part of self-care! While it did tickle, it was also a nice way to be tended to instead of being the superintendent for so many things in my life. Reedy Girl and I decided that we will both go for a pedicure when it's closer to my graduation. The ultimate graduation gift: pretty feet!

2. My Home: Bearded Brewer and I have had several prints and paintings waiting for framing. This winter we finally got them framed and put up. I am enjoying the new vistas on my walls. 

3. My Hobbies: I have been making time for things that feed my heart. Music. Photography. Family. And if it ever stops being "mud season" -- my garden! I can drive myself to exhaustion. I'm learning that I need this Re-creational Space in my life.

4. My Study: When we did some remodeling and refinished our basement, there was a debate about where I should put my study. I need natural light to feel alive, so I really didn't want to be a cellar drudge! I ended up taking over the fourth bedroom/former playroom. It receives the afternoon sun, and I have a great view of part of the garden. One of the other aspects I love about it is that I have version of the Last Supper by Piasecki on one wall. (You can learn more about it here.) My study also has a window that looks out on the back garden. And it has LOTS of books. Here's a few photos... please pardon the piles on my desk!!

The view inward...

The view outside...

5. My Heart: I have discovered that I need a balance of activity and quiet. Yes, I definitely an extrovert, but the moments I can have with no demands on my time or attention are very precious. I'll be going to the next day silent retreat on Wednesday April 21st here.  Care to join me?

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Just have to share this...

Evelyn posted this video. I felt like it was a hug of encouragement and peace around my shoulders... so I'm reposting it...

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Is it REALLY that simple?

I had an excellent conversation with a woman today. ("Excellent" because it made me think. And because she has her finger on the pulse of what has bothered me, from time to time, with some contemporary teachings of Scripture.)

She was upset that someone suggested that the Bible could "easily" solve all of her problems.

"It is NOT that simple," she said. "Why would anyone think that?"

I suggested that she consider the source. How much had the person studied the Bible themselves. Were they just mouthing off some platitude? Had they sat down and struggled through Job? Did they even know the word "theodicy"?

"I don't think that they've really had to deal with pain," she said. "But then -- I don't know that for certain. And I don't want to wag a judgmental finger in his face when his judgmentalism bugs ME so much!"

We are going to hang out, have coffee and talk some more... I suggested reading and talking through C.S. Lewis' book The Problem of Pain. One of his quotes is on my desk blotter, because it helps me keep perspective:

"Everyone feels benevolent if nothing
happens to be annoying them at the moment."

I promised her I had no pat answers. God's not a "button pusher" and just reading the Bible doesn't make it simpler. BUT - - knowing I have the Creator of the Universe beside me and with me in any difficulty I face means that I face my struggles with a little more confidence. No immediate answers, perhaps. But confidence.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

It's officially spring...

Time for the first colors of spring... and my first pedicure in a long, LONG time. (I know that thrills you.) However, I decided that when we can afford it, I am going to exercise what we RevGals call a little "self care" and get the toesies done.

The color is Midnight Plum.  That's in case you cared.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Slogging on...

It's a dark, rainy Monday morning after a bright and beautiful weekend. I'm finding it hard to get motivated on school stuff this morning...

The Johnnie is back on campus after a two week spring break. I drove her back yesterday. She's acclimated well, studying hard, and facing her own coursework with determination and focus. I'm so proud of her! But when she leaves after being around for a while, I miss her.

Reedy Girl is back after a great band tour to Nashville. She survived the 14 hour, overnight bus ride (UGH!) and managed to get a major project finished before she fell into bed last night. She works really hard and keeps herself organized and focused. There's a bright future for her as well.

Bearded Brewer enjoyed the time with the kids around (and their friends), and has kept pace with the full calendar. It's not his favorite thing to have so many events cranking at once, yet he helped keep the flow of errands and chores from backing up.

I still have several major projects to finish before I can have a short breather before graduation. Everything is due in the next four weeks...
6 papers... 4 major, 2 minor
various posts, essays and projects

I should be excited... but I'm just so tired. And the sudden change from fun, noise, activity and people to quiet and just the cats and my studies is a bit of a shock.

I have so many things to be thankful for, and I'm trying to focus on those...

- great, flexible, caring husband
- healthy, bright, loving daughters
- good friends
- and a faithful God

Slogging on - the next assignment - the next textbook...


Friday, March 19, 2010


It's so quiet on these late night writing sessions. The house is silent. Even the cats are sleeping! Tonight I cracked my window on one of the warmest spring nights yet, just to hear the sound of life outside. After 1 a.m. even this busy metro area is pretty quiet.

And then, the more I listen I hear how it is far from "silent"!!

My family and friends know I am not a "silent" type. Some are amused at my jaunts to a silent retreat. But even those four hours of not talking are a place for God to speak -- loudly. In fact, it is in the absence of the usual sights and sounds that God speaks the loudest.

When I was on a short-term trip to Nigeria (a lifetime ago!) we had frequent power interruptions. One of my favorite things to do when that happened was to sit out on the steps of our apartment, slap mosquitos and enjoy the dark night sky. The air was humid and still. But looking up, there were layers upon layers of stars. The heavens were never so "deep" to my naked eye then they were after an hour or so of gazing upwards.

An astronomer friend told me later that it takes several minutes for the human eye to adjust to darkness. Eventually we can see, even in starlight. It just takes patience and time.

Seems to me that hearing God in the silence is pretty much the same thing...

In the starlight I see
worlds and supernovas
created by your hand
as a sparkling touch of joy

In the silence I hear
words and simple questions
reminded by your voice
that I am yours and yours alone

In the silence
and in the starlight
you are there

This reminded me of a song that is among my favorite worship songs... as I crawl into bed, it's on my heart... thought I'd share it...

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Beware the Ide(a)s of March

I admit it. It was my fault. I was in a hurry. I brought it on myself.

Last week, I was trying to make a deadline for submitting an assignment, get a daughter to a job interview, be home for an appliance delivery, and meet a friend at the hospital whose family member was gravely ill. Oh, and I was also responding to an email from a friend that I had spent time with during my modular (intensive class) at seminary. There was also the usual - meals, laundry, enjoying time with family...  That all happened in a 24 hour period.

So I mindlessly responded to a request to install a plug-in by clicking "yes" when I visited a website suggested by my friend's email to me...  My distracted brain thought that because I had just updated my web browser, that I was missing this plug-in. My common sense brain which usually screams "CHECK THE URL!!!" was too far in the distance to get through... until it was too late.


Window after window launched. I started to try and close them, and then reached for my wireless antenna switch and moved it to OFF. Error message after error message loaded. My computer crashed.

 I got that sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach. I knew that I had just introduced some kind of malware to my laptop. The laptop that has ALL of my coursework, files, projects and a flippin 20 page paper well along in the development process. (Yes I had an incremental back up. Please.)

Of course I ran my brand-name virus protection scan. It found nothing. It didn't flag the worm or virus when I clicked on it. (WHY? We don't know.) And it didn't stop it from inserting itself into my computer's registry. But the results were unmistakeable. Despite my virus scanner giving the laptop a clean bill of health, I couldn't connect to any websites which were malware-removal related. I couldn't update my own virus protection (fat lotta good it did, but...) and I found out that friends were getting messages from "me" inviting them to check out this website.

Like Paul Revere I posted a warning... hoped that I didn't catch anyone in my net of stupidity... and started reading.

Malware is meant to catch busy, distracted people. It mimics real, normal computer downloads. It looks close enough to the real thing that unless you are being attentive, you miss the subtle differences. And it works FAST! Its influence is felt almost immediately.

Where am I going with this?

So much of life we are busy. Doing. Listening. Helping. Playing. Reading. Writing papers (that's if you're in graduate school...) Exercising. Cooking. Cleaning. Driving. Parking. Shopping. (Fill in the blank.) We are distracted. We drive with the radio on, the wireless headset in our ear. We are miraculously skilled at gauging which grocery store line will be the fastest. (You know you do. I do too!) We are distracted.

This Lent I've been trying to slow down. To listen more, ponder more, be more available. To be fully present when I am with family or friends. I don't want to add any "relational malware" to anyone's life.

When I do -- I am so thankful that God has made a way. That forgiveness is real, and that I am blessed to have some pretty amazing friends and family. Thanks. Love you guys a lot. A LOT!!!!

Really. Thanks.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Friday Five: Spiritual vs Religious

Mompriest from RevGals writes:
Yesterday I attended a conference led by Diana Butler Bass. She is presenting new ideas on the state of the church and why there is hope for Christianity. One of her premises is a Newsweek/Washington Post poll from 2005 that states that 55% of the people in this country describe themselves as religious AND spiritual.

Without going into detail about her understandings of religious and spiritual (you may want to attend one of her conferences, if you can) share with us five thoughts ideas or practices that you consider to be "religious." Then share with us five thoughts, ideas, or practices that you consider to be "spiritual."

For example one thought about religion might be that it is "salvation" Or an idea about religion might be that it it is an "institution" and a religious practice might be "going to church." An example of spiritual thought might be a phrase from a poem, a spiritual idea might be the inspiration for a piece of art and a spiritual practice might be meditation.

So, five thoughts, ideas, or practices that are religious....and then five thoughts, ideas or practices that are spiritual. OR are they the same thing to you?


This is a great question!

This week I am studying the John 4 passage which covers the Woman of Sychar and her encounter with Jesus. There's several themes in the text which remind me that she had lots of "religious" practices but was not very "spiritual." Jesus was very gentle, yet very direct with her. (...and me...) And considering the fact that this encounter is recorded right after a brouhaha with the Pharisees, it was all the more thought-provoking.

As I ponder this, I have come to the conclusion that I don't necessarily think that "religious" = "spiritual" thoughts, ideas, or practices.

Sometimes a "religious" habit can be "spiritual," and many times it can be devoid of any spiritual meaning at all. Likewise, some of the most "spiritual" moments in my life have had nothing to do with "religious" activities and had EVERYTHING to do with a mighty God at work. I just happened to be there to participate and be a part of it; (one such example, for instance, would be childbirth...)

Here's my attempt at articulating the difference...

RELIGIOUS: Praying because it's "that time of day" or "that place in the liturgy where we always pray."

SPIRITUAL: Praying because it is part of my ongoing conversation with God throughout the day.

2. Worship
RELIGIOUS: Going to a service at church with others, and oh yeah, it's about God.

SPIRITUAL: Going to encounter the Presence of Christ -- not necessarily a service, in a building, or with other people.

3. Giving
RELIGIOUS: Because it's a cause, person, political party or habit.

SPIRITUAL: Because God keeps 10% of what I earn, and I want it spent for heavenly purposes. And there's no litmus test on what that means.

4. Journaling
RELIGIOUS: Because all the cool leaders talk about the importance of doing it -- and because it's great fodder for my next book!

SPIRITUAL: Because without stopping to pray, reflect and articulate the swirl of activity that is "life," I miss the meta-messages from the Holy Spirit

5. Fasting

RELIGIOUS: I need to deprive myself of habitual eating in order to "deny my flesh" and prepare for Holy Week.

SPIRITUAL: I need to remember that all of my compulsions are under God's supernatural control; fasting is a way to reflect and return even the simple practice of consuming food to God.


In some respects, I found today's topic hard... I don't want to fall in a Pharasaical habit of thinking I'm doing better than some other "spiritual" leader I know. I'm surely not. I want to be clear that I wobble all the time between "religious" and "spiritual" -- and it is my prayer that I not be included in the heavenly list of Pharisees - by God's grace...  The Lord knows there are enough "religious" people in the news and on the internet these days!
"Everything they do is done for people to see..."  
- Jesus, about the Pharisees, Matthew 23:5a

Like it or not, the "Church Lady" from Saturday Night Live epitomizes a face of Christianity that is too common and too engrained in our culture. And, quite honestly, in me.