Saturday, January 30, 2010

It's doing THIS again...

It's doing THIS again! Except this time it's about 20 degrees and windy. Pure Brrrrrrrrrrr!!!!

I'm sticking to my warm house and slippers while I do some more homework and watch the 30% snow pile up. (Glad we didn't have a 100% chance. Wow!)

A nice pot roast is in the crockpot, and the cats all agree it's nap-thirtyfive.


Friday, January 29, 2010

Friday Five: Social Media Edition

Kathrynzj from RevGalBlogPals writes:

I had the joy of spending time with Songbird last weekend, someone I would have never met had it not been for the blogosphere. Now we keep in touch using a large variety of methods: blog (hers a lot, mine not so much lately), FaceBook, twitter, text messaging, chat and email. So far there has been no Skype.

It got me to thinking of the pros and cons of these relatively new means of communication and interconnecting and so I ask you the following:

1) What have been the benefits for you of social networking (blog, twitter, facebook, etc...)

First of all, I discovered the RevGals when I was a newbie in seminary and wondering if I was the only (a) 3rd career pastor-in-training (b) woman in seminary (c) secret feminist (d) person trying to serve God and walking that line between "the 2 R's" (Rush Limbaugh and Roger Moore!)  To my delight, I discovered I had a plethora of cyber-friends and encouragers waiting to be found!

2) Which medium do you use the most? Or if you use them all, for what do you use each of them?I use them all!I have blogged since 2004 and have a family website (sadly unedited at the moment!) The blog and website are more oriented towards practical, thoughtful and usually whimsical writing. Facebook and Twitter and Skype are quick, easy ways to keep in touch with family and friends. Facebook has become a great way to connect in "the the real world" as I'm working on networking and preparing to find a job (August-September 2010, in case you are hiring!) Twitter is an easy way to update my Facebook and Blog "status bar" in one fell swoop, particularly via my cell phone.

3) If you could invent a networking site (with no limits on your imagination), what would it provide? What would it not provide?

Some kind of "speed dial" that would let me voice-activate update my status... ?

4) Who have you met that you would not have met if it were not for the 'miracle' of social networking?Back when I was trying to be more "whole foods" oriented, I met a bunch of women through a digest/email list. Some of them were pretty "out there" ("sugar causes cancer" etc) but we got to know a great family through that list. DebD and I are very different, but there is a kindred Spirit that makes us friends. We keep in touch via the web; her blog/Facebook is one of the ones I follow pretty faithfully.

5) Who do you secretly pray does not one day try to 'friend/follow' you?SNORT. Like I'm going to publicly write that here? Use your imagination.

BONUS: What was the most random/weird/unsettling/wonderful connection you made that would not have happened if it were not for the ease of which we can find each other in the computer realm?
The day that I found out I was going to be ordained, I managed to contact Mary Beth via phone, who was here in the DC area for a convention. My fellow ordinand and I had just decided that we were going to have a luau celebration theme, and she had just found a beautiful flower lei on the street! What a God connection! :)

Thursday, January 28, 2010

More Beautiful You

Jonny Diaz has written an amazing song! I heard it today and thought, "Wow. What if every parent and daughter listened to this song and took the words to heart..."

Little girl fourteen flipping through a magazine
Says she wants to look that way
But her hair isn't straight her body isn't fake
And she's always felt overweight
Well little girl fourteen I wish that you could see
That beauty is within your heart
And you were made with such care
Your skin your body and your hair
Are perfect just the way they are

There could never be a more beautiful you
Don't buy the lies, disguises and hoops they make you jump through
You were made to fill a purpose that only you could do
So there could never be a more beautiful you

Little girl twenty-one the things that you've already done
Anything to get ahead
And you say you've got a man but he's got another plan
Only wants what you will do instead
Well little girl twenty-one you never thought that this would come
You starve yourself to play the part
But I can promise you there's a man whose love is true
And he'll treat you like the jewel you are

There could never be a more beautiful you
Don't buy the lies, disguises and hoops they make you jump through
You were made to fill a purpose that only you could do
So there could never be a more beautiful you

So turn around, you're not too far
To back away be who you are
To change your path, go another way --
It's not too late you can be saved.
If you feel depressed with past regrets
The shameful nights hope to forget
Can disappear they can all be washed away
By the One who's strong, can right your wrongs
Can rid your fears, dry all your tears
And change the way you look at this big world
He will take your dark distorted view
And with His light He will show you truth
And again you'll see through the eyes of a little girl

There could never be a more beautiful you
Don't buy the lies, disguises and hoops they make you jump through
You were made to fill a purpose that only you could do
So there could never be a more beautiful you

There could never be a more beautiful you!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Gray roots, part deux

Yesterday's blog wasn't meant to fish for compliments. (Honestly!) I just thought it was hilarious that someone could be so tacky (thank you, Mindy! perfect word!) and I was tickled to be considered in a previous decade, age-wise. But it was that little flare of conceit and vanity which popped up that made me stop and do a little self-assessment.

I'm frequently told that I don't look my age (and occasionally, that don't act it either.) I guess there has to be some benefit for having had oily skin as a teen, for staying out of the sun or religiously wearing sunblock because I quickly become sunburned, and for never having been a smoker. All those things play havoc on the skin. I also come from a good gene pool (thanks, Mom and Dad!) with longevity in my DNA. So while I liked the compliment, I realized that I don't look that young any more. I know that my face has more wrinkles than a few years ago. And as I drove home from the salon, I entertained for just a few minutes the idea that I might get my hair lightened or streaked or whatever you want to call it. While I love my stylist because she listens to me and doesn't give me a cut that can't thrive largely on neglect, she is in a business of selling beauty.

But this idea of "selling beauty" gets at a deeper issue. Who am I, anyway? What helps me see my true value, my purpose for living and life goals? It is not what is on the outside. Unfortunately, that's what is getting pushed on our kids at a younger and younger age.

Last night I channel surfed waiting for the news to return from a commercial break and came upon one of the most dreadful shows I've seen recently. (That says a lot.) It was the "Little Miss Perfect"pageant show on WEtv. I think that their advertising executives have chosen to promote the show from the seediest angle possible. Check out this clip which is their promo:

Sickening, isn't it?

That a girl (and her parents) can only consider self worth based on their beauty, glitz, talent and a "WOW" factor is wrong. Judges and parents keep telling a little girl that she has to present her "total package" yet it is all based on externals... what happened to her intellect, her gifting, her concern for others, her passions and interests, and, ultimately, her calling?  These words from Proverbs 31 came to mind...

 30 Charm is deceptive, and beauty does not last;
      but a woman who fears the Lord will be greatly praised.
 31 Reward her for all she has done.
      Let her deeds publicly declare her praise.
Prov. 31:30-31 NLT

I'm not the perfect parent, and I will continue to make mistakes... but God help me if I communicate to my girls, or any of their friends, that what is on the outside is more important than the character and the heart of the person beneath!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Thanks... I think!

This afternoon, I made a quick trip to get my unruly shaggy head brought back into submission, since in the next few weeks I will be having interviews for a possible summer CPE unit. (CPE=Clinical Pastoral Education, or learning about yourself as a pastor and potential work in hospital chaplaincy.)

The shampoo gal says to me, "Gee, good thing you came in. Your roots are really showing. Time for a quick color touch up, huh?"

Me: "Um... No. This is my natural hair color."

Gal: "Oh. Well, it's really REALLY gray coming in. You might want to think about getting your hair colored."

Me: "Oh, I don't know. I've earned every one of them."

Gal: "Well, you'll definitely look old, like you're fifty or something, if you don't get your gray covered. And we have to keep working to look young in our forties, don't we?"

Me: "Well, that's a thought..."

I'm sure she meant well. (And I did not tell her that I left fifty behind a while ago... )

Friday, January 22, 2010

Friday Five: Planes, Trains and Automobiles

Songbird from RevGalBlogPals writes:

By the time you're reading this, I'll be en route to a Great Big City to see my son in a play. I'll go by car and bus and train and no doubt cab and maybe even subway. Thus, our Friday Five.

1) What was the mode of transit for your last trip?
Family car. Another I-95 adventure...

2) Have you ever traveled by train?
Yes, a long time ago. When Bearded Brewer and I were dating (he was in DC, I was in metro NY), I used to take the Amtrak down to DC and then Metro it out to friends in Northern Virginia.

3) Do you live in a place with public transit, and if so, do you use it?

Only when we go to downtown DC. The biggest issue is finding parking at Metro stations!

4) What's the most unusual vehicle in which you've ever traveled?
A "taxi" in Nigeria which had people, goats and chickens all crammed in to a 10 passenger van. Everything was inside because it was the rainy season. It was hot, humid and smelly!

5) What's the next trip you're planning to take?
Hmmmm... Not sure. I don't think driving down to modular classes (intensives) counts. Probably back to the beach.

BONUS: Here's a picture of my first car... A 1978 Dodge Omni (basically a Volkswagen Rabbit knock-off!) It had a four speed manual transmission and an add-on AC unit under the dash. While it was great on snow with its front-wheel drive, it went through THREE batteries and FOUR alternators in ten years...

Tuesday, January 19, 2010


I believe in all that has never yet been spoken.
I want to free what waits within me
so that what no one has dared to wish for
may for once spring clear
without my contriving.

If this is arrogant, God, forgive me,
but this is what I need to say.

May what I do flow from me like a river,
no forcing and no holding back,
the way it is with children.

Then in these swelling and ebbing currents,
these deepening tides moving out, returning,
I will sing you as no one ever has,
streaming through widening channels
into the open sea.

Rainer Maria Rilke
Rilke's Book of Hours

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Consolation and Desolation

Ruth Haley Barton in her book Strengthening the Soul of Your Leadership writes about the inner dynamics of consolation and desolation, referencing St. Ignatius of Loyola...

Consolation is the interior movement of the heart that gives a deep sense of life-giving connection with God, others and my most authentic self in God. It is the sense that all is right with the world, that I am free to be given over to God and to love even in moments of pain and crisis. Desolation is the loss of a sense of God's presence. I feel out of touch with God, with others and with my most authentic self. It is the experience of being off-center, full of turmoil, confusion and maybe even rebellion.

Experiences of consolation and desolation are not right or wrong; they just are. They need not be particularly momentous; in fact, they might seem relatively inconsequential until we learn topay attention and listen for what they have to tell us. God's will for us is generally for us to do more of that which gives us life (John 10:10) and to turn away from those things that drain life from us and debilitate us.
~ Strengthening the Soul of Your Leadership, p 67

As I listen, wait and pray, I can ask for things which bring about God's abundant life in me, not the life-draining kind. Sometime the "abundance" overflows when I am shopping for mission trips. Or listening to a friend over coffee. Or even folding laundry... Other times it is when I am standing alone in the middle of the labyrinth, listening, waiting and praying for God's direction.

I am learning I do not have to 'do' to be blessed and restored to the abundant life. Thank God I am not always a slow learner...

Friday, January 15, 2010

Mary Daly

A Church for Starving Artists wrote a blog post on the passing of Mary Daly here... For some reason I had missed that news.

Like many of you, Mary Daly was the first feminist Christian writer I ever read (though I am sure there are some who will dispute whether or not she was a "Christian" and to them I say, "get over it!")

She brought a stunning ray of light into a dank, dusty way of doing theology. She challenged old hermeneutics and allowed many women, myself included, to see a clearer picture of Christ beyond the earthly depiction in the Gospels. She also tackled some pretty sacred ivory towers... things I am gutless to deal with at this stage of my life.

Rest in peace, Mary. And thanks...

Friday Five: "If" edition

Jan from RevGalBlogPals writes:

In EFM this week, our question was, "If you were a color, what would you be?" So that's where this Friday Five comes from, at least its jumping off place.

1. If you were a color, what would you be?
I'd be blue-hoo-hoo, blue-hoo-hoo, blue-hoo-hoo-HOooooo! (Sorry! Gratuitious Veggie Tales Reference!)

2. If you were a flower (or plant), what would you be?
No question. I would be a rose. A beauty with thorns.

3. If you were an animal, what kind would you be?
A cat. Probably because the idea of sleeping 20 hours a day appeals... and because we're a 3-cat household. I don't think I could be anything else.

4. If you were a shoe, what type would you be? I'd like to say a pair of Birkenstock sandals, muddy from the back yard... but I don't want to horrify my daughter. Probably I'd be a pair of my Rocket Dogs flats because they go anywhere, work with just about anything outside of formal wear, and still look great. I love Rocket Dogs! I can find them for a reasonable price at DSW, and they don't hurt my feet!! I've been eying these beauties and are waiting for the price to come down.

5. If you were a typeface, which font would you be?
Something that is not regular and regimented, but is still readable. Probably something sans serif and as far from Times New Roman as I can get and still be considered "professional."

Bonus: Anything connected with metaphors that you'd like to contribute.
Well, you might have noticed that my blog is "An Unfinished Symphony" -- the title and reason are a metaphor in themselves!
Life is an unfinished symphony. God holds the score in His Hands. Sometimes my life is a cymbal crash, and sometimes it is pages of counting rests. But always, He is the Conductor. (...and I hear the Coda He's written is out of this world!)

Thursday, January 14, 2010

And now a word from creation...

Love the amazing diversity in creation! Check out this video on the "Lyre Bird" -- from a camera shutter to a car alarm to a chain saw - this bird imitates them all!

Call me oversensitive..

Call me oversensitive if you'd like, but I was irked that of the "Top 55 Pastor Bloggers" selected and listed here, only FOUR of them were women. And the four that were selected were all from "". ( is a multi-campus megachurch in Texas, Oklahoma, New York, and Florida and has "online worship" as well.)

The list was created by a blog called 'Online Christian Colleges' so I can't really tell their affiliation.


Only four women? Relegated to a specific category???


Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Manning on being "pro-life"

I finally found something in The Ragamuffin Gospel that helps me articulate what has bothered me about the political grandstanding of the pro-life movement. It's a question of consistency and integrity; it's a matter of seeing all humanity as worthy of "life"... and it is a honest self-appraisal for the ways we all fall short in living out God's commandments to serve one another.

The way we ware with each other is the truest testof our faith. How I treat a brother or sister form day to day, how I react to the sin-scarred wino on the street, how I respond to interruptions from people I dislike, how I deal with normal people in their normal confusion on a normal day may be a better indication of my reverence for life than the antiabortion sitcker on the bumper of my car.

We are not pro-life simply because we are warding off death. We are pro-life to the extent that we are men and women for others, all others; to the extent that no human flesh is a stranger to us; to the extent that we can touch the hand of another in love, to the extent that for us there are no "others."
Brennan Manning, The Ragamuffin Gospel, p. 141.

There is much to consider here...

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

An Honest Moment...

Holy One,
There is something
I wanted to tell you,
but there have been errands to run,
bills to pay,
meetings to attend,
washing to do...
and I forget what it is
I wanted to say to you,
and forget what I am about to do or why.
O God,
don't forget me please,
for the sake of Jesus Christ...

O Father in Heaven,
perhaps you've already heard
what I wanted to tell you.
What I wanted to ask is
forgive me,
heal me, increase my courage, please.
Renew in me
a little of love and faith,
and a sense of confidence,
and a vision of what it might mean
to live as though you were real,
and I mattered,
and everyone was sister and brother.

What I wanted to ask in my blundering way is
don't give up on me,
don't become too sad about me,
but laugh with me,
and try again with me,
and I will with you, too.


- Transforming prayer by Ted Loder
in Guerrillas of Grace

Friday, January 08, 2010

Friday Five: Dreams

Sophia from RevGalBlogPals writes:

With the beginning of my college teaching semester I have been having some unusually intense and memorable dreams lately--especially related to my Women and Religion class. With the beginning of a new calendar year many of us are engaging with dreams of another kind: planning, brainstorming, setting intentions or resolutions, etc. And many churches will celebrate the baptism of Jesus this Sunday, reading the Gospel account of his vision of the Holy Spirit as a dove and the "beloved child" words of Godde that set him off on his mission sharing Godde's dream for the world. So let's take a few minutes on this (where I am at least) lovely snow-blanketed Friday morning and share about the many different dreams and visions in our lives.

1. Do you tend to daydream? I do. But I think that it is a largely self-serving habit, so I am trying to turn them into prayers of conscious conversation with God instead.

2. Do you usually remember your night dreams? Do you find them symbolic and meaningful or just quirky? Most of the time, they are just quirky, and usually related to something that is going on in my life. For instance, Bearded Brewer likes to sleep with the window open. In cold weather, that usually results in a dream of being in a snowbank, or lying on the ice... and then I wake up freezing!

3. Have you ever had a life changing dream which you'll never forget? No, honestly, I don't think I have.

4. Share a long term dream for one or more aspects of your life and work. How about graduating in May and starting a CPE unit shortly after? I guess this is a theme, but I would LOVE LOVE LOVE to be done with school.

5. Share a dream for 2010....How can we support you in prayer on both the short and long term dreams? I am a bit jaded, I guess. I had dreams of where I thought I would be in ministry and the doors seem fairly firmly closed. So I'm just focusing on a dose of reality and intentional listening to God's voice and direction, rather than telling God what I think is going to happen.

I do pray for our daughters' future and the places God will take them and use them. The opportunities that they will be offered will have fewer bumps in the road. So I guess my BIG dream would be for a world where equality is not fought for, but is granted, and service and work is given based on gifts, not gender.

I'd say that's a pretty BIG dream for all of us!

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Back to school

Sunset, Harbor Island, SC

It's sunset time for Academia... I'm back in the swing of my LAST semester of seminary. (Can I get an AMEN?) It's a good feeling and yet a bit surreal.

Before the semester gets going full blast, I finally finished writing the reflective essay that accompanies my CPE application. I think that if I were in my 20s instead of (ahem) something higher, it wouldn't have taken as long. There was a lot to write about! The ministry is my third "career" and degree program. All those years of thinking "women can't be pastors" really kinda mucked with my life journey. But in a way, it's all good. I've had some time to deal with junk in my life, see our girls through a lot of their school years, and take a wild faith journey. It was gratifying to re-think my spiritual and vocational journeys as I wrote my background essay.

I've gone back to Brennan Manning for my devotional reading (as well as reading through the NT letters) and am finishing up my re-read of The Ragamuffin Gospel. I truly love his writing. He and Anne Lamott and Henri Nouwen help me keep things real and fresh.

In today's reading I came across two quotes which were thought-provoking:
"When a tornado comes tearing down the street, it is not time to stop and smell the flowers. Let go of the good old days that never were -- a regimented church you never attended, traditional virtues you never practiced, legalistic obedience you never honored, and a sterile orthodoxy you never accepted. The old era is done. The decisive inbreak of God has happened." (page 110)
"Most of us postpone a decision hoping that Jesus will get weary of waiting and the inner voice of Truth will get laryngitis. Thus, the summons of the crisis parables remains suspended in a state of anxiety, so long as we opt neither for nor against the new dimension of living open to us. Our indecision creates more problems than it solves. Indecision means we stop growing for an indeterminate length of time; we get stuck. With the paralysis of analysis, the human spirit begins to shrivel. The conscious awareness of our resistance to grace and the refusal to allow God's love to make us who we really are brings a sense of oppression. Our lives become fragmented, inconsistent, lacking in harmony and out of sync. The worm turns. The felt security of staying in a familiar place vanishes. We are caught between a rock and a hard place. How do we resolve this conundrum? We don't. We cannot will ourselves to accept grace..." (page 113)

The first quote was just one of those obvious ones -- reminding me that a faith that matters is a faith that moves and deals with life in one of those "where the rubber meets the road" moments.

The second one is probably an encapsulation of the last few years while I've been in seminary. I've been pushed to leave some old, comfortable, well-established religious opinions and grind out some new ones. And where I can't find some way to articulate the changing aspects of faith, to be willing to not concretize something that is not yet fully formed. But in any case, to be willing to be UNstuck by letting God's irresistible love wash me onward.

Onward, kicking down the rubble, pulling out of the mud pits... here I go. Another year. Another reminder of God's faithfulness.

Friday, January 01, 2010

Friday Five: Fresh Starts and Covenants Edition

Sally of RevGalBlogPals writes:

As I prepare this post I am aware that it will be posted on New Years Day. We stand at the beginning of 2010 looking not only at a New Year, but at a new decade full of promise and possibilities. For some of us this will be exciting, but others will approach it with trepidation and probably most of us stand on this threshold with a mix of emotions and reactions. It is at this time of year that many (British) Methodist Churches celebrate their Annual Covenant Service, a service that will include this prayer:

I am no longer my own but Yours,
Put me to what You will, rank me with whom You will;
put me to doing, put me to suffering;

let me be employed for You, or laid aside for You,
exalted for You, or brought low for You;

let me be full, let me be empty,
let me
have all things, let me have nothing:
I freely and wholeheartedly yield all things
to Your pleasure and disposal.
And now glorious and blessed God,
Father, Son and Holy Spirit,
You are mine and I am Yours.

May it be so forever.

Let this covenant now made on earth
be fulfilled in heaven.

This prayer is said every year, and offers every member an opportunity to renew their covenant with God. This is no soft or easy prayer, it states in the company of others our willingness to worship God come what may, not that we should become doormats, but that we place God above all else. (And every year if we are honest we have to acknowledge that we fail.) With this prayer in mind I bring you this Friday Five:

1. What will you gladly leave behind in 2009? Two words: Kate Turabian.

2. What is the biggest challenge of 2010 for you? Finishing strong for my M.Div. I am so sick of school that I really am not excited about starting classes on Monday. I know I will get in the groove, but I am ready to be DONE!

3. Is there anything that you simply need to hand to God and say "all will be well, for you are with me"? Knowing where I will be a year from now in God's choice of ministry for me. I don't really know what it will look like. Being a female and ordained clergy without a denominational affiliation, there aren't any clear options as of yet. And that must be God's to direct and bring to pass.

4. If you could only achieve one thing in 2010 what would it be? Continue to build strong relationships with my husband and daughters. Anything else is gravy.

5. Post a picture, poem or song that sums up your prayer for the year ahead....

Harbor Island, SC

In the quiet spaces and wide open places
I heard your Voice
and answer...
I only desire to reflect
your Words and your Beauty
to the world around me.
may it be so.