Wednesday, December 26, 2007

New Year


1. We called for an appointment with a guy at our bank who will help us plan a budget.  We know there must be a better way than either my way (dont think about money - things will probably work out), and J's way (worry about money all the time - any minute we will lose everything).  We are hoping this guy will help us start finding some middle ground.

2. I found out that there is a Weight Watchers meeting nearby and at a time I can go to it.  Because gaining a few pounds a year is ok for a few years, but it is just not sustainable in the long run. 

3. Made an appointment with a chiropractor.  (Did you know about my chiropractophobia?  And how when I overcome it, I feel much better?  But how overcoming it is kind of challenging? Now you do.)

4. Took down the Christmas tree and all the decorations on the day I wanted to do it.

It's a kind of discipline for me to even write a list like this  -- one that has on it the little steps I'm taking toward big changes that need to happen (slowly) in my life. And I'm tempted now to add something self-deprecating about the sink full of dirty dishes (it really is full of dirty dishes.  And as it's almost midnight, I think I'm probably just not going to get to them tonight). The new year is so often about resolutions that dont get resolved, about brave first steps taken without any follow thru, that it's hard to even claim the little steps that do get taken.  I've been encouraging the folks at church to remember that God loves the process as much as the outcome, and smiles with joy at our attempts, whether they lead to success or not.  I try to remember it for myself, too.   As J says, "well, we have to start SOMEWHERE."  So, here's to new years coming, and starting somewhere.

Hope your Christmas was delicious. 

Sunday, December 23, 2007

How to assemble an Ikea bunkbed, the Juniper way

Step One: Buy the bed and have it delivered in two devilishly heavy boxes.

Step Two: Hire Darrell and his other brother Darrell to put it together for you.

Step Three: Believe the brothers when they tell you that the center support piece is about three inches too short for the top bunk and decide return it.

Step Four: In the meantime, swing like monkeys on the mostly finished bunkbed which, without its top, is just like a super fun jungle gym.

Step Five: Return the center support piece with rather more than the usual difficulty. While you are there, get a bunch of new pillows, some cloth napkins and a table cloth, a lamp, and a chair cover that you will eventually have to return since you have no chair to put it on.

Step Six: Back at home, realize that the support piece you have brought home is actually the center support piece for the bottom bunk, which is full-sized, not twin-sized.

Step Seven: Ask Husband Scary Voice to call the store, and request that they mail us a new piece, so we dont have to go back to the store. Do not be surprised when they agree to ship it free of charge. Immediately.

Step Eight: Receive the new center support piece in the mail. It is about three inches too short for the top bunk.

Step Nine: Wait three weeks, or until cooled off.

Step Ten: Return both the too-short and the too-long support pieces. Get a support piece that is just the right length. Also the chair that you wanted last time which was out of stock, new knives because you are too lazy to sharpen the perfectly good ones you already have, something that costs 99 cents (what is it? who cares!!?? It costs less than a dollar!!) and some picture frames.

Step Eleven: Try not to calculate the final, total cost of the bed.

Christmas Eve Eve

You know how you think you've pretty much got it together, but then you wonder why you're feeling so munchy at 8 pm? And you realize it's because you forgot all about dinner.

E usually has a little bowl of oatmeal before bed. I remembered to give him that. Do you think it will last him the night?

Hmm, parenting isn't going so well, let's talk about church. The two Christmas services so far have gone almost unbelievably well. I keep trying to remember to keep it in perspective, because the honeymoon never lasts, blah, blah, blah, but I love. this. church. so. much.

I learned an important thing this weekend, the not-so-easy way. If someone you can count on doesnt show up, and you think "I should call" and then you think, "Nah, something probably just came up, it's the holidays and all...." - really, you should call.

E was delighted to show me the fuzzy slippers and new matchbox car that he found! The slippers just fit and the matchbox car was just the kind he likes, with the engine that opens! Next year, I will have to stash the stocking stuff in a more secure locale, evidently.

If you'd like a little break (from holiday stress, inlaws, what have you) may I suggest that you go to You Tube and search for ABBA? That will cheer you right up.

And if that doesnt, work, try this instead: (tip of the habit to Sue).

Friday, December 21, 2007

I, 2, 3

Today is my favorite worship service of the year - The Longest Night service.  At my previous churches, this has been a little thing, with maybe a dozen people.  I'm introducing this service at my new place, and everyone is still being kind and enthusiastic about everything, and lots of people say they are coming.  Lots of candles, a few readings, lots of quiet music and silence, silence, silence......Oh, I can hardly wait.

Sunday, switching dramatic gears, will be the chaos of a spontaneous Christmas Pageant (Thanks for the script, Sue!  Which I adapated and I hope will work - I'll let you know.).  Everything is in place that can be, so it's mostly a matter of prayer now. 

Monday, lots of visits I hope and then a festival of lessons and carols, which is being totally set up by our music director who (listen, mom!) experienced it LIVE AT KINGS COLLEGE last winter!!  So cool.  Hopefully, our slightly less polished version wont be disappointing to him.

Then - TWO DAYS OFF in a row.  When people ask me what I'm doing for Christmas, I just look at them kind of glassy-eyed.  I cannot imagine.  But I think it will have a lot to do with opening presents (E's request), the fireplace and a stack of books as tall as the Christmas tree.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

#401 - The Most Boring Blog Post Ever

Hey,that last post was my 400th, it turns out.

That today was much kinder than yesterday, although busy, so busy.

Because even when everything doesn't break at once, everything does happen at once.

Although when that everything is a lot of people wishing you happy birthday, that is pretty nice.

Those of you who own houses, how often do you have visits from service people?

Because we are averaging one per week.

Which, though pleasant in its way, is something of a strain on the budget.

Tonight, the plumber, who fixed our clogged garbage disposal while he told us a lot about his six kids, his friends' kids that live with him, his new house that he's going to buy if it goes through that has twelve bedrooms, and his pets, including an African blue (a bird), a lab, a bunch of reptiles and a tarantulas.

We cant even keep a house plant alive.

We do, however, have a Christmas tree, which is looking good.

Talked on Skype video with my bro and sister in law tonight. Have you ever done that? It is cool! And free!

E's Sunday school teacher wants us to be sure to know that she did not teach him to end the song with "...go tell it on the MOUNtain, that JEEZus CHRIST eats cheese!"
I did not tell her that we, in fact taught him that to save us all from something much more scatological.

Although, he is now singing himself to sleep with Away In the Manger like the most angelic 5 year old who ever lived.

Maybe I should record it, and send it to someone on Skype.

Monday, December 10, 2007

When I say everything is broken, I do not exaggerate

Might it be that they all missed the ex-office admin, whose last day was Friday?  How else to explain why, on a day when I was an hour late getting to the office by reasons mostly beyond my control, 
the furnace
my printer
the main office computer
the adding machine
were all malfunctioning?

Or maybe it was just some karma I had to work out today (I KNOW you buddhists, that karma doesn't work that way, it's just the best word at that moment) since when I got home the kitchen sink was plugged and when I went to get the draino at the store, the credit card swiper  wouldn't read my card.

The draino didn't work, either, for the record.

When google doesnt work

I just googled

"year is to annual as month is to........" and got nothing. Any ideas what you call something that happens monthly? Oh, right. Monthly.

Once again the extrovert answers her own question by just talking alot about it.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Guns to guitars

I guess it's old news now, but in case you havent seen it yet, as I hadn't, check out this picture from the blog of Cesar Lopez, Columbian activist and musician who makes guitars out of guns.

Lopez, quoted at Peace Blog, says "Violence fears love because it is stronger. Violence fears my voice because it goes beyond death."

Wednesday, December 05, 2007


Carol over at Tribal Church is asking lots of good questions about leadership although the comments seem to be all about what is good preaching, which makes me wonder a lot of things.

1. Does great leadership equal prophetic preaching? What about leaders who lead in other ways - as great teachers, for examples, or excellent administrators (I mean, it's not very sexy, but if you can run a meeting you can rule the world. Which is why I'm not not ruling the world.).

2. One of the comments equates prophetic preaching with really getting into The Issues. Personally, I've heard hundreds of sermons about issues, and just a few about Waking Up, so a really prophetic sermon for me is one that gets me all fired up about walking with Jesus and seeing where that takes you - which may be protesting the war or may be holding the hand of a young man dying of cancer. Both change the world.

3. Also, I'm reminded of my own love/hate relationship with The Sermon, which might be why I'm struggling with the preaching part of my job most right now. I mean, I love to hear to a good sermon as much as the next church geek. In fact I listened over and over to the cassette of the sermon that BBT preached at the FTE conference in, I think, 1998 (is that the year More Cows? do you remember that one? about how we were called to be Peter, not Jesus? it sounds obvious now, but at the time I thought I would die from relief.). But honestly, we know so much more about how people take in information now that we used to, and sitting and listening to someone else talk for 20 minutes (or even 12!) is just about the worst way there is to learn anything. I try to have people do stuff when I preach just to engage their other senses (have a drama, get them to talk to each other, walk around and look at pictures, close their eyes and pray, tie a piece of string, whatever) but it doesn't always work out and sometimes even that feels a little gimmicky or something.

4. Which is why I'm planning to go to the Festival of Homiletics in May -- it seems that a new sermon is pretty much expected every week, and having run through my Greatest Hits, I'm looking for inspiration. Any of ya'll planning to go? It would be good to see your faces.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

It's December, and I usually hardly blog in December

Great things about being me right now:

Today, I casually suggested to my Tuesday morning Bible Study that we have a "holiday" party next week, since "after that we will not meet for three weeks." They are so on to me. I didn't know they knew it, but they already knew that next Tuesday is my birthday and were, I think, already planning a little something..

I'm thinking about my birthday alot, since a new laptop is in the mail thanks to the World's Greatest Husband.

E's birthday present to me is that I'm making him get dressed up and come with me to the community center's Mommy and Me dance for 4-7 year olds.

I just learned that toilet paper is counted as a household expense by the IRS. But you alreday knew that.

Ok, I was already to end this post with something Deep about the True Meaning of Christmas, but I got nothing. As you were.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Topsy Turvy

Last night I dreamed...
-That I had long, flippy hair that I put up into a ponytail, but it kept falling down and I was digging thru a pile of hair clips trying to fix it.
-That I had to get a message to a colleague that a guy was going to make an announcement in his church about a seminar he was leading, even though I didnt know anything about the guy or the seminar.
-That I had to get him the message on a static-y cell phone.
-That we were visiting my inlaws.
-That Adam Sandler was our nanny.
-That he did a better job than you'd think, and he was funny of course, although he kept irritating me by pretending to (trying to?) nurse a baby.

In my waking life:
-It's the advent of advent
-Our best friends are moving to Beaverton today.
-I did something stupid at work and I'm trying to remember that most people do stupid things sometimes and I should not to let it make me feel permanantly sick to my stomach and
-We are actually moving into the house we have lived in for three months.

If you dont see me in this space for a while, it's because I'm in the corner, breathing.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Kicking and Screaming Into the 21st Century

I have a facebook account now. Feel free to poke me, or whatever it is the kids are are doing these days.

Useful information

One small indoor pond, nine bath towels and two soggy knees later, I can assure you that there is a good reason that "it is recommended that you wash your comforter in a large capacity machine."

Friday, November 23, 2007

Do as I say and not as I buy....

Yes, that was me, just five days after preaching my kickassingest sermon ever on
Buy Nothing Day, the overcommercialization of christmas and etc, spending 4 hours and 4 digits at Ikea.

But now whatever else happens, at least we've got that sofa problem handled.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007


Here's what'll be in our newsletter this month in the pastor's column. Although it's talking about Christmas already, it seems to go with Thanksgiving, too...

Which holiday traditions are really important to you?

When I was a child, my mother baked Christmas cookies with our large family every Christmas Eve. She and I and my brothers would bake all day and listen to A Festival of Lesson and Carols, broadcast on our local NPR station from King’s College in Cambridge. Later, we’d all dress up in our best clothes for church and then we painstakingly selected the one present we were allowed to open that night, before being sent to bed to try and sleep through a buzz of anticipation and sugar.

Now that I am grown, Christmas Eve is both the same, and different. As when I was a child, I usually spend the day listening to Christmas carols and getting ready for church with my family. Instead of cookies, though, we’ll cook and eat spaghetti, which is the traditional Christmas Eve dinner from Jeff’s childhood. Our method of opening presents, slowly over the course of several days, is a new tradition not borrowed from either of our childhoods, but one that suits our small family perfectly.

As we change, our traditions will change. We’ll keep the things that are important and allow the things that don’t matter that much to fall away. I loved baking cookies when I was younger. (To this day, when I hear Once In Royal David’s City sung acapella, I can smell the fragrance of spicy, brown-sugary cookies.) As an adult I do other things that I love just as much. Today we’re creating the memories that Elijah will be able to treasure when he becomes an adult, and develops new traditions of his own.

It’s the same in our church family. In each generation, some traditions pass into memory and some new ones are born. There is joy in remembering the things that sustained us in the past, and there is also joy in creating something new that feeds us in the present. As we go about the business of celebrating our first Christmas together, we’ll keep discovering new traditions, as we celebrate the traditions we have loved from the past. Let us rejoice in both the old and the new. God blesses them both!

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Found en route to other things

The Sacrament of Letting Go - © Macrina Wiederkehr

I worry too much. Autumn trees ask me not to worry. They, like Jesus, suggest trust rather than worry. So often in autumn I want to lean my head against a tree and ask what it feels like to lose so much, to be so empty, so detached, and then simply to stand and wait for God’s refilling. It sounds so simple, so easy. It isn’t easy.......

she celebrated the sacrament of letting go
first she surrendered her green
then the orange, yellow and red
finally she let go of her brown
shedding her last leaf
she stood empty and silent, stripped bare.
Leaning against the winter sky
she began her vigil of trust.

And Jesus said:
Why do you worry about clothes? Remember the flowers growing in the fields; they do not fret about what to wear; yet I assure you not even Solomon in all his royal robes was dressed like one of these.

Shedding her last leaf
she watched its journey to the ground.
She stood in silence
wearing the colour of emptiness,
her branches wondering:
how do you give shade with so much gone?

And Jesus said:
Do not be troubled or needlessly concerned
and then,
the sacrament of waiting began.
The sunrise and sunset watched with tenderness.
Clothing her with silhouettes
they kept her hope alive.
They helped her understand that
her vulnerability
her dependence and need
her emptiness
her readiness to receive
were giving her a new kind of beauty.
Every morning and every evening
they stood in silence
and celebrated together
the sacrament of waiting!

And Jesus said:
Now if this is how God cares for the wild flowers in the fields which are here today and gone tomorrow, will he not care all the more for you...?

Monday, November 12, 2007


It's that grateful time of year,
and I'm finding myself grateful
for a congregation
that wasn't sure how it felt
about women in ministry
and is handling a big change
with fewer bumps and more grace
than any of us thought possible.

Also, grateful for the kindness
of the men at the transitional housing shelter
who tonight were kind to a small boy
in his first act of community service.

Also, grateful for modern medicine, public libraries,
cell phones, good beer, smart colleagues,
dear families, and contractors who look
you in the eye and say "Yes. It will be
done by Thanksgiving."

(Which means, btw, that we now have a
plan for The Holiday, which is finally,
actually moving into our house! Cross
your fingers that it is true.)

I am not so grateful for the guy
(assume it was a guy - sorry guys)
who tore the trim off my car and threw
it on the ground when I was parked downtown
today. "Dude. At least steal something
you can sell."

This is not a poem.
Just me goofing around.

See you on the other side of the crazy week that is upcoming.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Friday Five, sort of

Sally at RevGals suggests that for this Friday Five, you name 5 things you would do to; care for your body
2. to care for your spirit
3. to care for your mind
4. to bring a sparkle to your eye
5. to place a spring in your step

Since today was my day off, and it was a really good one, lots of things happened that accomplished all of these. So, here's my all-inclusive body/mind/spirit/sparkly/springy friday five.

1. Eli skipped his morning daycare, so we could go for a 1.5 mile hike. We're training for a 3 mile hike in December. The weather was perfect and he did great - only a few whines there toward the end.

2. Then I went to a new spa, which was no substitute for wonderful Olympus - it was quite a bit dingier and no pools, but at least I got all warm and glowy from the salt room. And I weighed myself, which considering I havent been doing anything at all to keep up (or should I say down?) with that, was not as demoralizing as you might think.

3. Then I went to buy yet another pair of shoes. Yes, for those of you keeping score at home, this IS the third pair since I started this job. Let me defend myself by saying, I have this stupid foot thing that's not even worth discussing, except to say that it doesnt seem to be getting better on its own, there's a chance that my shoes are the main problem and the best shoes for fixing it are the original Dansko clogs that are also, thank you Jesus, sort of cool. (Not cool in an "i feel pretty" sort of way, but cool in a "former lesbian clomping around in the rain" sort of way. Which I guess is the look I'm going for anyway.) And who am I to say no to good medicine, especially when it comes in the form of good shoes?

4. Home again and ordered this year's firewood off of what-did-we-do-before-Craigslist, which tomorrow will be delivered and (for an extra 20 bucks stacked) by someone named Heath-like-the-candybar. And just in time, because after an endless summer the rains started in good earnest tonight.

5. Raked and raked and raked. I really like raking, and a good thing too because we have a maple in the back yard that seems to believe it is the birth place of all maple leaves.

Bonus Anti-Sparkly-Springy Moment: Things went briefly south when E had a Total Freak Out right before dinner. He's doing so good with this whole adjustment, but sometimes the little cracks show. He pulled it together after a while, though, in his usual way. He went to his room and worked it out himself. After 5 years of being his mom, it's so hard not to follow him for a little fuss and cuddle, but that has never calmed him down since DAY ONE, and I don't know why I think it should start working now. After a tantrum, he likes some hugs and holding, but it doesnt help him get out of one. Anyway, later we got a phone message from the principal of his school that a kid had had a toy beebee gun confiscated today and at their bedtime chat J heard about some politics involving first graders who were not exactly invitational on the playground. No wonder he lost it. It's a big world for a small boy. Should I be worried about the gun, btw? I'm not yet, so let me know if I should add it to the list.

Bonus Ministry Moment: You know how when you're visiting people in the hospital, you always ask them as nicely as pie to turn the TV off for a minute? The reason you do that is so you don't get the giggles if that scene from the Godfather where the Pope or someone is praying in Latin happens to be on at that exact. same. moment. as you are praying aloud in your own mother tongue. Just so you know, that's why you do that.

Bonus Sparkly-Springy Thing: Check my brother's blog. (Dude. Is that really a photo of you hanging with NEIL YOUNG? You rock, man.)

Thursday, November 08, 2007

cheered considerably this morning by...

The gloriousness of spiderwebs in a foggy dawn


The reminder from an email, a phone call, and a prayer that most people actually mean well


This poem over at Christine's place


The puncuationlessness of the bumper sticker I noticed for the first time, even though it's just around the corner: "Gonna be a turd go lay in the grass."

Friday, November 02, 2007


*Do you have an advent candle lighting reading you really like? Or a song even? If so, I'd sure appreciate hearing about it.

*Speaking of things they never taught you in seminary, I'll be saying a few words on Monday at a ribbon cutting for the road they finally finished paving next to the church.

*I've never heard of a ribbon cutting for a road, let alone the local pastor saying a few words for it. But The Commissioner is going to be there. And they've sent out actual press releases. So I guess it's really going to happen.

*To prepare, I got my hair dyed today. Red. Like a fire engine. I really like it, but the first encounter with it can be startling. I thought E was going to cry when I stopped by his classroom today. He recovered ok. Now he giggles everytime he catches me out of the corner of his eye.

*I hope it doesnt have that effect on the church folk on Sunday.

*Turns out that scene where Ricky Bobby prays to the little baby Jesus is just as genius the second time you watch Talladega Nights. And the rest of the movie is a good time, too.

*Not that you would ever watch a low brow movie like that.

We are ten weeks into our time here, and something more needs to be said about transitions, about graceful and not so graceful ways to make changes, but not tonight.

PS: Thanks for the help on the candy. It's in the freezer. Wylde - I'm still cracking up about that "that's how they lose their teeth" thing...

Friday, October 26, 2007

Friday Five

1. How did you celebrate this time of year when you were a child?
I dont remember too much goings-on as a child in terms of parties, and we always lived in places where trick or treating wasnt practical, until I was too old to do it. But I know I dressed up for some reason (although I cant remember why) because I've been thinking fondly of my favorite costume ever - the ladybug that mom made when I was about 7 or 8. (Do you remember that mom?) I keep wanting to put E into a ladybug costume, but he is just definately not that kind of guy. Do you think I'm too old for it myself?

2. Do you and/or your family “celebrate” Halloween? Why or why not? And if you do, has it changed from what you used to do?
Halloween is definately one of our little family's High Holy Days.
We love to go to the pumpkin patch and this year we found a really great one not far from our house.
The year E was 3, we took weeks to make a truly awesome robot costume out of an old box and some silver spray paint, including blinking LED lights. Of course, he could not sit down in it, or walk really, but he looked great and he loved it - wore it for weeks til he wore it right out.
Other years, the costumes have store been bought, and not as excellent, but we always love trick or treating, each of us for different reasons (Dad - nostalgia about his own trick or treating exploits; Mom- opportunity to meet some neighbors and peek into their houses, however briefly , to see if there are some decorating tips I want to borrow; Child - um, candy, obviously.)

Speaking of candy, last year, my brother who has 5 kids asked me on the phone what I was doing.
"oh, just throwing away the Halloween candy."
"Yeah, I told E that's how it works - you go around and get all the candy you can and then you get to keep your 4 favorite pieces."
"Oh my god, if you had more than one, they would never let you get away with that."
I think this year I"m trying to think of a way to get it out of the house while not wasting it, but I honestly cannot think of a single use for candy besides eating or tossing. Suggestions welcome!

2. Candy apples: Do you prefer red cinnamon or caramel covered? Or something else?
I have not opinion on candy apples. I think I just like them plain the best.

3. Pumpkins: Do you make Jack O’ Lanterns? Any ideas of what else to do with them?
Jack o Lanterns and roast the seeds to eat after carving. I dont do anything with the guts, though.

4. Do you decorate your home for fall or Halloween? If so, what do you do? Bonus points for pictures.
Sadly, no. I wish I was more Martha in this way, but I cant seem to get my act together for much seasonal decorating. Sometimes I string up some orange lights, but I think those are packed away in a box somewhere this year.

5. Do you like pretending to be something different? Does a costume bring our an alternate personality?
I dont really care about costumes that much anymore. It's part of how I'm not much of a play-er, maybe. And it totally freaks out E if he sees me in a wig or even a crazy hat, so I dont have much incentive. But since 2 people (including the easily freakable E) have suggested I dress as a witch this year, I'm going out on Tuesday when the costumes are 75% off or whatever to find a witch costume to wear the next day. Who knows? Maybe my inner pagan will finally find her voice.
I got J a big blue shirt with a big red S on it - so he can either be Superman, or Jesus from Godspell. He hasnt decided yet, but I'll know by whether he rolls around all day bursting into: "WHEN wilt thou save the people? Oh, God of mercy when??" or not.
And you already know that E will be a Jedi warrior, right? Because it's all about the light saber, the one weapon that doesnt really seem like a weapon to me so I let him have it. I know, I know, It's a slippery slope...

Bonus: Share your favorite recipe for an autumn food, particularly apple or pumpkin ones.
Oh boy, I'm typing this in a hotel far from home, so I dont have any recipes at hand, and let's be honest, I'm not that great of a baker anyway. But I love that frozen apple tart thing they sell at trader joe's. So if you're a non-baker like me, head for the for freezer section.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

not much time for blogging

Just got back from a conference gathering, which I was nervous about, but which I actually really enjoyed and which E LOVED. Everytime I went to get him from the childcare, he would cry and say he was not ready to go. I love how much that boy loves church, have I mentioned?

GREAT speakers from our national office. It was a big "if that's the national church, sign me up for the cheerleading sqaud" kind of weekend - and I mean that in a really good way.

So, the conference meeting was mostly hopeful and made me glad for the gazillionth time that we've landed here. Good conversations and interesting to start to learn the lay of the land. J thinks that the clergy seem more competetive or something. I think that back in my part time associate days I just didn't have anything that anyone else wanted, so nobody was all that into competing with me.

Did I tell you that my current church's search committee reviewed over 80 profiles before they got to mine? This is because they had kind of three separate processes - 2 other candidates did not work out before me. Anyway, pretty much anyone in the west who was looking for a church must have gone thru some part of their process. I know who some of them are and I'm not sure how I feel about that. This whole colleague/competitor dynamic with other clergy is a minefield I dont think I negotiate very well. How do you deal with it?

Also, ran into a guy who knew my folks back in Hometown 25 years and 1400 miles ago. Sheesh. Small world.

Now getting ready to have the kids help in worship for Children's Sabbath (note to self: do not do this again 53 days into your next call. note to you all: not like I'm planning a next call or anything. just saying.)

Also, getting ready to go to Seattle overnight, so J can show his face at MIRE (Major Internet Retail Establishment) where he is a pioneer telecommuter, and E can play with his old pals and J and I can have a Real Live Date.

So, as I say, not much time to blog. But I'll check in when I can...

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Book report - audio and visual

I'm a commuter now (20 minutes each way, so dont weep for me, but still, that's 40 sort of idle minutes a day) so I've been listening to books on tape. So far, I've heard most of two, and I'm part way through a third.

Dont Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight
. I did not actually hear ALL of this, because I read a bunch of stuff about it online and decided to get the book with the pictures in it. Yes, I am 8 years old. However, after hearing about 3/4 of it, I can recommend it, but for the stout of heart. Such a great story about being a child, and being a child in wartime. Unexpectedly funny. And also horrible and heartbreaking a lot of the time. She has a remarkable lack of bitterness about what was really a lot of deprivation and horror in her childhood - - she just tells it like it it.
And the audiobook is really masterfully done - the actress who reads it is, um, a good actress.

Jane and the Prisoner of Wool House
by Stephanie Barron. I think I would've loved this a lot more if the tapes from the library hadn't been all intermittantly wobbly. Worse than having it all the time wobbly, it turns out, because you keep thinking that the wobblies are going to end if you can just grit your teeth for another minute. It was a cute like those books are, but it turns out, I was really wanting something with a little more meat on its bones, if you know what I mean. So I got...

Beloved! Read by Toni Morrison Hergoddessyself. Which keeps making me late for things since I keep sitting in the car to listen to "just a little more...." Oh! So awful and so wonderful and every word so beautifully, perfectly chosen. Well, you know. Since I'm the last person in America to read, or hear, or whatever this book. But just in case I'm not, run don't walk. So good.

I'm also reading sometimes.

For fun reading, I did that "walk swiftly through the fiction section and pick up something that looks interesting" technique at the library, and came up with a funny (both peculiar and ha ha) little book - Radical Prunings: A Novel of Advice from the Contessa of Compost, the conceit of which is that it is advice letters about gardening, which provide a window into the world of an eccentric, cranky woman making her own kind of family with the people who gather around her. There's nothing profound about it, but I can recommend it (maybe for next summer at the beach, or tomorrow ! if you're WS) if you enjoy silliness like: "Orchid flowers imitate some other things, such as the larger, more attractive insects, with bristling wings, sturdy little legs as thin as copper filaments, pudenda, etc. I once read that some orchids are so desperate to be pollinated that they will literally throw themselves at a passing insect. Ladies, haven't we all?"

For work reading:
Read Tell it Like It Is in an insomniac tear a couple of weeks ago (reads more like a dissertation than I was hoping, and nothing you didn't know already, but let me know if you want to borrow it);
Currently carrying around Tribal Church and not finding as many free moments to read it as I'd like (30 pages in, though, I can tell you already that it's genius. But you knew that);
And poking my way slowly (by which I mean, leaving it lying it around, picking it up and opening it at random to read a few a pages once or twice a day - can that method even be CALLED "reading a book?") through How to be an Open-Minded Christian Without Losing Your Faith (recommended by a church member, and I think would be easier to swallow for some of my church folks than some other progressive Christian writings that resonate a little more with me personally. It's got short, helpful sections on dealing with all kinds of questions that seem to come up between Christians Who Differ. ).

I'm thinking of getting I Refuse to Lead A Dying Church. Anyone read that?

Friday, October 12, 2007

Friday Five

1. What is your earliest memory of encountering a biblical text?
It's not a text exactly, but my earliest memory of the Bible is when my grandma, an old missionary and teacher taught us a song about the books of the Old Testament. I wish I still knew it, but I can only get 12 books in (first and second kings....) before I trail off. I remember memorizing verses in Sunday school when we were on Madeline Island, which puts me at about 8 or 9. I liked "Jesus wept" because it was short.

2. What is your favorite biblical translation, and why? (You might have a few for different purposes). I seem to turn most to the Message these days.

3. What is your favorite book of the Bible? Your favorite verse/passage?
I've spent the most time over the years with Acts, which I love for making the Christian life into such an adventure. But I don't have any favorite passages that last, except for see the question on psalms below. They change so often, with circumstances and readings.

4. Which book of the Bible do you consider, in Luther's famous words about James, to be "an epistle of straw?" Which verse(s) make you want to scream?
I don't really have it in for any whole book. Hmm, verses that make me want to scream - well, I think I'm most sorry about how "no one comes to the Father except through me" has been abused and misused. Although, my favorite sermon I ever wrote is about that passage, so I have a funny sort of fondness for it for that reason.

5. Inclusive language in biblical translation and liturgical proclamation: for, against, or neutral?
Depends. Too much gender neutral language for God is distracting to me and seems to be code for whatever the reader/hearer's image of God is anyway. I much prefer some male images of God, and some female. Inclusive language for the congregation, however, is imperative. I learned this from my mother, who improvised new words to hymns right in the pew, way before the New Century Hymnal came along. Sometimes when people complain about the language in there, by the way, I encourage them to go ahead and change the words, "just like women have been doing with the words in the old red hymnal for years."

Bonus: Back to the Psalms--which one best speaks the prayer of your heart? Psalm 46, especially verses 1-5, (although "be still and know that I am God" which comes later is one of my most frequently repeated prayers).
Here it is, in the King James version:

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble
Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed,
and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea;

Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled,
though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof.

There is a river, the streams whereof shall make glad the city of God,
the holy place of the tabernacles of the most High.

God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved:
God shall help her, and that right early.

Say, speaking of the Bible...

Any suggestions on a lectionary based adult Bible study curriculum for adults would be appreciated. I've tried several different approaches with this group, but the liveliest discussion was on the day that we really dug into the history/sociology and looked at maps, etc. Seasons of the Spirit, which I rely on for other things seems a little too, well, sort of touchy-feely for this group.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Yesterday, life was such an easy game to play.....

Remember how yesterday was so about the beautiful mystery that is life and art?
Today was so. not.

Although, a walk after dark with your wee son and his mighty light saber, so he can lay out his trick or treating route in a new neighborhood is a pretty sweet way to end a hard day.

I got some new boots, too, with the last of the goodbye money from my old church.

And I'm not all Rev. Domintr*x either, like I worried I might be, what with the laces and everything.

Although, after today, I'm thinking maybe that wouldnt be such a bad thing.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Getting my mind blown

Hardly anything went as planned today.

Go to colleague's lectionary Bible study and then, since Monday is secretary's day off and such a quiet day in the office, finally synch palm to google calendar (really it's getting too ridiculous not to have a calendar unless I'm sitting at my desk because I'm too lazy/busy to download a simple piece of software), make some worship plans and then go on a few visits.

1. Unexpected pastoral care visit.
Some things are very heartbreaking.
And many things are not easily fixable.

2. Unexpected visit to reschedule building usage.
Takes a while.

3. Unexpected call to schedule building usage.
Takes another little while.

4. Unexpected visit from a guy who wants his baby baptized.
He went to the church he grew up in and they wouldn't do it because he's not a member there. He stopped by our place since we are just down the street from where he lives. Turns out I kind of know people who are his family in Seattle - funny small world thing. Anyway, I used to be adamant about NOT baptizing unless a person was a member of the community, etc. A couple things have changed my mind. At my last call the senior pastor was much freer about baptizing than anyone I'd met before, so that was one example.

Then, my uncle told me this crazy story one time about being a young pastor with no shower, swimming in a creek, when he was accosted by a guy with a gun who wanted to be baptized (stop me if I've told you this one). My uncle, following the rules of the church, disagreed. Luckily, he avoided getting shot in the process. More than 30 years later, he tells this story with regret - he really wishes he would have baptized the guy, there in the creek.

So I re-thought. These days, I figure if baptism is really a sacrament, then it's really God's way of working in the world and I probably shouldn't get too uptight about the why's and wherefores of it, I should just let it do its work. I asked the guy to visit the the church once, told him I'd like to meet with him (we'll do it tomorrow) and then I will baptize a sweet, tiny boy. I'm guessing that lots of you will not agree with this approach, and I know that many churches will not allow it, but it feels right for this this place and time, and I'm happy that, even it's only for this this one day, we can be a home for a little family.

5. Scheduled meeting, did not go as planned.
We talk a lot in the UCC about being a home for people who have been damaged by more conservative traditions. I've certainly met people who have been bored to death by the church, and drifted away to the status of SBNR* but I dont think I've met a person before who , after an upbringing in a congregational church, grew up and got saved in an evangelical way. Until today.

After he called me about 4 times to set something up, I finally met with this guy from a neighboring evangelical church (after the secretary wrote on the final message - "HE IS NOT asking for money.") By their website, I can see that they rely on, no surprise, the Bible as their primary guide for living. They don't actually SAY "inerrant" but am I wrong to assume that? Anyway, he wants to talk about how we can partner with them around this Luis Palau revival thing that's happening here next summer. When I set up the meeting, I figured I'd take his stuff, tell him I'm not going to something where my gay and lesbian parishioners are going to be bashed, and send him on his way.

Instead, I find myself really liking the guy. And really listening to him. He's saying stuff like "we have things to learn from each other" and "we are open" and "we really want this (meaning the revival thing) to be a time to glorify Christ. For too long these things have been all about individual churches getting their names out there instead of worshiping God." and "Christians are so divided about politics, but we really want to come together about what we agree on, and work with organizations to help poor and hungry people."

After an hour, I have to go. I am rattled. I'm wondering if he's snowing me - pretending to be all open-minded so he can reel me into something that's going to expose me or my congregation to embarrassment or outrage. But I'm more afraid that he's in earnest than that he's faking me out. I'm realize that I'm afraid, actually afraid, that somehow contact with a dedicated, loving and successful Christian will infect the people at my church with dis-ease and dissatisfaction. Afraid that if we really find that we can work together across/along such radical theological lines, our denominations will disappear and leave us all drifting. Afraid of what it really means if I really mean what I say sometimes that "we have a lot to learn from evangelicals about what it means to surrender to God."

I've always prided myself on being quite open-minded and accepting, but I'm not, really. No more accepting of the Bible church guy than I would imagine he might be of me. I told him I will talk to the church leaders about the revival thing - that is the commitment I made. He invited me and J to a dinner and speech, with him and his wife (ok, my stereotype is all that I'm not going to have enough hairspray for this event - see how rotten my thinking is?). Anyway, J wants to go (he's been reading about evolution and intelligent design and he's all fired up to get INTO it with someone), so I guess we will if it works out. In the meantime, I'm praying, praying hard. My prayer is: "Show me the way, show me the way."

If you know anything about Luis Palau, and particularly what he might mean for progressive Christians, I'd be glad to hear it.

6. Scheduled meeting downtown.
Planned to get lost. Did not in fact, get lost. Arrived on time.

See? A day chock full of surprises.

*Spiritual But Not Religious

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Putting the self in self care

A couple of conversations in the blogosphere lately remind me that the only way to know what self care is, is for the self in question to define it. No one else can tell you what you need in order to be really rested. For example, occasionally someone will suggest that I get a massage and probably the reason I hate 'em is because I've never gone to ____ ___ who knows exactly etc etc etc. Massage is not good self care for me, and the drama that is making and keeping an appointment reminds me of this.

I know I'm practicing good self care by exactly how kind I am to my son, and how unweepy I am with my husband. When I start snarling at the one and bursting into tears whenever the other looks at me, I know it's time to take a look at how things have been going in Self Care Land.

Here are the three best self care habits for this self:
1. 8-9 hours of sleep out of every 24.
2. 1 (20-40) minute walk alone per day.
3. Taking a large quantity of vitamin B every day.

RE #1 - who has time for that? I'm still working on it. I mostly fall in the 6-7 hours range, but I do so much better with more. I sort of realized this when the morning people at my last church all thought I was one of them, and ditto the night people. I'm equally dopey if it's too late AND if it's too early. (Although not as dopey as the music director at my new church, who is so adorably grumpy first thing on Sunday morning that it's hard not to push his buttons on purpose. Bad pastor. Bad.)

RE #2 - much funner* when the weather is sunny and warm and the days are short. Much harder to fit it in when the days are short and it's raining out and it's October and I'm probably getting a cold.

RE #3 - I manage this almost every day, although the knock-off brand I got a couple weeks ago to replace my usual ones because I could not find my usuals was really not doing the trick. I went and got a bottle of something that cost as much as a Jedi Halloween Costume, promises it is organic and says it relieves "nervousness and exhaustion." I feel all 1830 when I take it, but it seems to be working. That annoying headache that was back for a while seems to be mostly gone now.

Other self-care measures are, off the top of my head: checking in with Jesus as often as possible; eating 2 servings of fruit or veggies with every meal; going to the spa every month; getting pedicures regularly; regular dates with my husband; blogging; going to the chiropractor; practicing yoga; talking to my parents at least once a week; singing in a chorus that doesnt mind that I'm not all that musical; keeping in touch with my brothers and friends; going away by myself for 2-4 nights per year; having someone else clean my house; not driving for a whole day; eating in nice restaurants; browsing in bookstores; laying on grass.

After a big list like this, I try to remember that the very best self care is not to get all hung up about if I'm practicing good self care or not. Because being angry with myself for bad self care is just a very windy road that I don't want to go down.

*Do those of you who remember Tricia Barton remember how she used to scold us for saying "funner" when we were all 13? She was so much cooler than the rest of us. I pretty much wanted to be an adult when I was 13, but she really really really was not meant to be a teenager. I wonder whatever happened to her. Hopefully she's still cool wherever she is. A brief Google of her name reveals a dog breeder, a writer, a scientologist. Really, she could be any of these, I guess. Or all three.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Priorities: An Elijahlogue

Mom: (By way of explanation for the Small Scene which resulted in Mom having to go for a little walk to compose herself). I'm just having a lot of big feelings right now, honey. We all are. If you were just going to kindergarten, we'd all have big feelings. Or if I was only starting a big new job , or if it was only that our house was all torn up so we all had to live all squashed together, or if it was only taht Daddy was in a cast from an accident and having a hard time getting around , or if it was only that we were trying to find our way around a new city where we dont know where anything is - any of those things would give us big feelings. So it's like big feelings times five.

Son: (comfortingly) Well, we know where the bowling alley is.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Friday Five

Havent done the friday five in a while, but I've been thinking alot about endings, so here goes:

1. Best ending of a movie/book/TV show
Book:I'm with RM on Charlotte's Web.
Movie: West Side Story (classic). Pieces of April (not classic).

Question: So, a good ending has to make you sob until your eyes fall out?
Answer: Yes, why do you ask?

2. Worst ending of a movie/book/TV show
Dont tell Sue how much I hated the ending to the Sparrow, since she's reading it right now and loving it. But it did TOTALLY piss me off.

3. Tell about a memorable goodbye you've experienced.
I'm just reading a book about clergy transitions that says that how you enter a room is how you enter any situation. I"m not sure how I enter a room, but I know how I leave one. When we're out with a group, I always tell J I want to go way before either of us is ready. "But we're having a good time!" he used to say back in our courtship days. My response: "Right. Perfect time to blow. Why wait until we're having a miserable time to get out of here?" So "always leave when you're having a good time" is one of our inside sort of lines. (Not inside anymore, eh, blogospshere?)
Our family just last month said goodbye to the city we've lived in for eight years. I keep trying to write things about that and erasing them. Because for sure that was the biggest goodbye we've had in a while, but I think it might be a little too raw still to write about. For now I can say that we left at the right time and came to the right place, so being on this side of that goodbye feels pretty good.

4. Is it true that "all good things must come to an end"?
Hmm...hope not...

5. "Everything I ever let go of has claw marks on it." --Anne Lamott
See bonus. Control issues? Nah....

Bonus: "It isn't over until the fat lady sings." I've never loved this expression. So propose an alternative: "It isn't over until ____________________"
I say so.

Bonus bonus: MW (are you reading this? if so, you can out yourself if you want) ends a boring evening by saying to her husband, "Honey, let's go to bed so these nice people can go home." Ha! That is so GENIUS!

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

I actually have a method for something

There's a conversation going on at More Cows about preaching without manuscripts. I wrote such a carzy-long commment that I deleted it from there and posted it over here. I'm delighted to discover that, although I'm so green at this full time solo ministry biz that I actually have an opinion about something.

I've preached both with and without manuscripts. It's not more work, just a different kind.
Here's the method I use. I had a colleague who told me once to think of it like stringing pearls on a necklace (I think he heard that from Walter Brueggemann). If you have a story or two you know you want to tell, it helps. Also, study the text like usual, but instead of writing things down, listen for what sticks with you. Pray, however it works for you. For me, praying involves a brisk walk. Then:

1. On a card, write this sentence: "the theme of this sermon is..." then fill in the blanks with a short (I mean 3-4 words!) sentence.

2. Stand in the sanctuary.

3. Read the scriptures out loud.

4. Read them out loud again. (this is to get you used to the sound of your own voice).

5. "String the pearls" - that is, say out loud names or keywords by which you'll remember the stories in a row like this: "sermon theme, Father Mike, story about lost wallet, exegesis of passage #1, story about field of flowers, exegesis of passage #2, read Lamott quote, repeat sermon theme" It's best if the sermon theme kind of ties all the stories together. (ha! in this and all preaching, I guess!)

6. At this point you might want to arrange or re-arrange the "pearls".

7. Repeat 5 and 6 two or three times until the "pearls" are all really set in your mind.

8. Go through the whole sermon one last time, this time telling each story outloud. In other words, filling in the stories that until now have been only titles or keywords.

9. Now go home. You can overpractice it and then it sounds stale - part of the point is to keep it sounding conversational and extemporaneous - like you're just talking about things as they come to you.

10. You might want to write your keywords on a card to keep in your pocket, which I do but hardly ever look at. It's a good security blanket, though.

I'm usually about 12-15 minute preacher and this works well for that length. If you're used to going longer, I'm not so sure. My experience is that I'm more nervous on Sunday morning (which is why I'm not doing this at my new call since I've only been there 3 weeks and I'm nervous enough already!), but people respond really really really well. If they are not used to it, it delights them - like you're giving them a little present. I sometimes use props, which helps alot with remembering what's coming next too.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

I feel like I never sleep these days

But I must be, because I keep having crazy dreams, the kind that feel like someone else's dreams because they are so unusual, so unlike my usual dreamscapes. For example, I told J that I had HIS dream the other night, one where he was embarrassingly naked in public and I kept not being able to cover him up. Or I am walking down a road in flat, dry country, almost a dessert. Around me fly dozens or maybe hundreds of tiny, adorable kangaroos, in formation, perfect rows. They are are furious, and one flies close to my ear and shouts "How will you ever take us seriously if you keep telling me how CUTE we are?"

See what I mean? Whose dream is THAT?

Thanks for the blogosphere

Here's a conversation I couldn't have had if it wasn't for More Cows and Any Day a Beautiful Change and their Over the Rhine recommendations.

E: Do you know why helpmeit'smylastnightonearthagain is my favorite song?
Mom: Why?
E: Because it has a wheezy old Ford in it! (laughs uproariously)
E: (five minutes later - still chuckling wheezily about the ford)

For the rest of you, not just five-year-olds with great senses of humor, I can recommend Over the Rhine's Discount Fireworks. My current favorite is Born

I was born to laugh
I've learned to laugh through my tears
I was born to love
I'll learn to love without fear.

Yeah, that's about it, huh?

ETA: Those of you who put the fanatic in fan can feel free to correct those lyrics, if I didnt get them just right.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

What it's like in Portland

We've been in a new city for a month and I havent written that much about it yet. Probably because we've mostly been working and settling into our new house and neighborhood, and shopping at Target instead of going to Powells or eating Voodoo Donuts or smelling roses or any of the other Portlandish stuff we thought we'd be doing.

Here's a 15 minute power blog on what it's like to be the Juniper Family in Portland right now.

  • Our house is a cute little ranch house, but we all live in one room of it.
  • Our contractor did that cliche thing of coming by, knocking down some walls, taking a check for $6000 and never coming back.
  • Actually, we are waiting for stuff - like doors and bathtubs - to come in so he can work on them, but when you are doing a renovation, isnt it like a law that you have to complain about the contractor?
  • Also, in the big mortgage debacle of summer 2007 when we didnt even know if we were going to get the house or not, he took another job, so he's been kind of squeezing us in.
  • Which I can't blame him for.
  • For those keeping score at home: number of visits to DMV for me to get a license and register my car = 4. The same number of visits I've made to banks trying to get a new account.
  • The material world is so trying for us mystics.
  • I'm never actually considered a mystic unless beaurocrats are involved.
  • However, I did pass my drivers test on the first try.
  • This is good, because I have Issues about drivers tests and also, I failed the online one I took for practice before I went in so success was not guaranteed.
  • But I only got one wrong (out of 30) in the written test. Did you know that you can drive a FIRE TRUCK with a class c license? There, now you wont get it wrong.
  • Speaking of fire trucks, we have two cool parks in walking distance. One is a little human-made lake. One is the yard of a fire station. E likes the fire station one best. Who can blame him?
  • We have a beautiful yard, but we only have time to sit in it on Sunday afternoon.
  • Then we say, "Gack! Everything is drying up!" and run around watering things.
  • Which is actually fun as gardening work goes.
  • We are curious to see what will come up in the spring, so we are waiting til next year to plant bulbs.
  • This makes the 5 year old our house incredulous.
  • He believes everything should be done immediately.
  • Which is why, for those keeping score at home, I paid $47 for his halloween costume so he can be a Jedi knight with a light saver, er saber.
  • He could pretty much have anything he wants right now because I'm feeling kind of guilty about the move and the amount of daycare I've dumped him in.
  • Except for candy. I drew the line when the first words out of his mouth a couple mornings in a row were: "I havent had any candy yet."
  • We got all this candy when we rode the cool real live public transportation to the Beaverton 50th anniversary parade.
  • Which was the kind of parade where a guy from Kiss was the grand marshall, since he graduated from a local high school and it ended in kind of a vacant lot where somebody from Radio Disney was shouting at people from a tiny, rickety stage.
  • Also, people of many religions including Bahai and Fulan Gong were passing out flyers.
  • If I were not UCC, I think I'd be Bahai. I would not be Fulan Gong. Unless they stopped passing out flyers showing photos of their members who have been tortured to death. I mean, cripes. A kid could have seen that.
  • And then he would have a bad dream.
  • And then none of us would sleep, since we're all living in, did I mention? one room.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

More food blogging

E manages to sound both pointed and wistful when he remarks that "SOME KIDS get to BRING their lunch." Both J and I remember preferring school lunch - but of course it was all junk food in those days and it's not like that anymore - turkey sandwiches on dry wheat bread and carrot sticks is just not the same as those mostly-soy hamburgers and tater tots we used to get.

But even though I'm no vegan lunch boxer, I have figured out FINALLY how much more pleasant dinner is if I actually get the input of my family on menu, plan the menu in advance and then buy the groceries all at once. We planned a month in advance and shop once a week. (And I just found a grocery store that delivers! Yeehaw!) Probably you're so organized that you're doing this already, but I've found it to be a real revelation.

Some of you are talking about saving time, and this has been the biggest time saver I've experienced in a while, as well as eliminating the stress of 1. having to put together something to eat when I'm hungry and tired from whatever I can find in the cupboard and 2. having to watch my family not eat what I managed to put together. These dinners are some Eli's faves, some Jeff's and some mine, but they all include at least one or two things that everyone will eat. We all actually like eating dinner together now, which has always been my big, unrealized fantasy for my family life. Proof that sometimes dreams CAN come true.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Lentil Soup

It's cool outside - the blessed rain fell today. Although we could have wished the rain would not have fallen on the dear people's church picnic, at this point after weeks of sweating it out in the glare-y sun, we'll take what we can get. And the rain did wait until we'd been in the park for two full hours, so by then we were all pretty much ready to wrap it up anyway.

I'm happy to report there were no deviled eggs left. A line from some long unread Laura Ingalls book comes to mind "it was a credit to Ma that none of her (what was it?) was left" or something like that after a church dinner. (Jody would know which book and the exact quote, but she's busy being controversial over at her place, so I bet she wont be by.) Funny what stays in there when so much that might actually be useful has fallen out my ears. Well, in any case, it's a credit to the new pastor that the deviled ages were neither lumpy nor runny and they all got eaten.

Now it's the end of a long day, the sky is darkening outside, we're clearing places on our desks (my goodness the paper DOES pile up) and there's a pot of lentil soup simmering on the stove. My relationship with lentil soup is complicated. Where I come from, lentils are famine food, what you eat when there's nothing in fridge but a limp carrot and a half an onion and it's the end of January and there's no money but you have to fill up and stay warm somehow.* J, however, had never eaten lentils until he met me. His childhood food was chicken breasts cooked unto death. And Doritos. Anyway, to for him, lentils are the height of exotic and whenever I cook up a batch of the Moosewood lentil soup (from the original printing of the cookbook, where it says "start this early, it needs to cook all day" - that is not true) he is delighted. I do have to admit that the aroma of the first pot of soup of the year is wonderful - reminds me of everything I've always loved about fall. And like all famine food (lutefisk, say, or black-eyed-peas, or kimchi or whatever it is for you wherever you are from) it does have a certain breath of home-ness about it and it actually tastes pretty good too.

I dont use the cookbook recipe anymore, I've made this so many times, but in case you'd like a pot of lentils, too on a cool fall day, here's how it goes.

Lentil Soup (Moosewood says "it's gentle...." Funny ol hippies)

One hour before eating, get out a big pot.
Saute until soft in 1-2 T olive oil
1 carrot
1 stalk celery
half an onion
1.5 cup lentils
4 cups liquid (chicken broth is best but water works too)
Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, cover.

20 minutes before eating
1 small can diced tomato (or fresh if you got em)
small pinch each thyme and oregano
bigger pinch basil
salt and pepper

Just before eating
dollap each sherry and molasses
squirt of soy sauce
juice of half a lemon

J likes his over rice. Also good garnished with cheese (any kind) or parsley.

*I've never actually lived THAT close to the bone, but you know what I mean, right?

Friday, September 14, 2007

Question for Sunday

Let's say you want to demonstrate how God throws parties during the children's time. Let's say you give the choir a little bit of confetti to throw into the air at the right moment. Mindful of big messes, you do not give them very much. Bear in mind, this is not a small room. Is the result:

1. That it is a cute thing to do, if not particularly profound, and everyone understands God's fun-ness much better afterwards?

2. That no one even notices the confetti, since the choir is so far away and the confetti is so small?

3. That everyone spends the rest of the service worrying about who's going to vacuum it up later?

This seemed so simple yesterday. Today, it seems like it's going to send the whole service crashing into the mountains. Suggestions welcome.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Random Dots of Thursday Night

  • Today was my last day of working 10 days without a break. I know you hardcore pastor chicks do that all that time, but honey, I am tired. Note to self: Don't do that again anytime soon.

  • Ended this long day with a service of remembrance in acknowledgment of suicide prevention week which I attended at another church. There was a time for sharing. As usual, I was astonished at the depth to which people are willing to go after only a short time.

  • As usual, I was also reminded how for extroverts A Time For Sharing is. I sure would like to hear more from the introverts. Is there a way to set that up to make it possible?

  • And I was also reminded of how much I love the song "Just As I Am" even though "and that his blood was shed for me" is so not my theology. Probably worth exploring how much atonement theology is actually in there after all. Yeah. I'll put that on my list.

  • I was also reminded of a dear friend who answered the phone when I was feeling close to the bone coming off some bad medicine last summer. Since this was a Serious Event, I did not share during sharing time.
    Me: (wailing) I'm so overwhelmed I feel like I want to die! I've never felt like this and I'm so freaked out.
    Her: Do you have a plan?
    Me: Are you kidding me? If I had a plan, I wouldn't want to die!
    Her: (pause and then offstage, as if to the rest of her suicide hotline coworkers) Uh, we got a newbie on the line here.
    Aw C, I love you so much!

  • If you usually dont ingest any caffeine, a trick learned in Defense Against the Head Aches, and then you go have tea and giggles at a very sweet lady's house at 4:00 in the afternoon, you will still be kind of wired 4 hours later.

  • I was so wired, in fact, that came home from the church tonight using a different route, a thing that, had I done it in Seattle would have ended in tears for sure, even after we lived there all those years. Here, I just figured it out and drove right home. That reminds of what my friend who knows him says about Peter Sagal. Evidently his superpower is being able to find his way around any city, but Seattle is his kryptonite. So it's not just me.

  • While I've been working all the time, Jeff has been being super dad (Elijah will TALK to him. Me, not so much. Just a little bit of hostility there) and listening to those New Testament lectures by Bart Ehrman that I got for my commute time. Which has gotten him all psyched to study something but he has so many interests that there's no way he could decide what. What he wants to know is, can you apply to grad school with an undeclared major?

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Too Much New

I had that end of my rope feeling with all the new stuff trying to find a post office tonight and missing the tough women I had crushes on at our local mail room in Seattle. Yeah, I was always looking for reasons to buy stamps there... Anyway, I thought I'd come over to the blog and write about all that and, crap. They've finally taken down the photos we stopped paying for at comcast. So now I guess I'll spend the evening renovating my website. Because I don't have enough other renovating to do.

In the meantime, some questions for you to ponder:
--Is a five year old too young to hear Harry Potter read aloud?
--Isn't it the polite thing to empty your desk before you leave your job so the new pastor will not not have to clean out drawers full of subway napkins -- unused, thankfully-- and dried up glue stick? (No, I am not kidding. Although I did find a stamp that, when pressed on paper, says IMPORTANT. I'm going to stamp everything now.)
--How do you work full time and also (fill in the blank with everything and anything else you used to do)________________?

ETA: Photos are back. Links may or may not be working - too tired to fix them all now.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007


Do people ever fill the washing machine with water and then bathe their muddy pets in there? Because I cant think of anything else that would make that particularly doggy smelling, sticky, brown ring around the inside of the washer tub. It's still kind of rank even after scrubbing the yucky looking stuffy away. Weirdly, you can wash clothes in there and they come out kind of clean. But ew.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Behold! A New Thing!

First day of telecommuting (after 7 years in the actual office, minus the last two weeks off for foot ouchies) at MIRE (Major Internet Retail Establishment) for Mr. Juniper. Report: Not as productive as one might hope, but not a total loss.

First day new job for Juniper. Report: This is such a cool place, I cannot even get over it. I keep wanting to jump up and down and woohoo. I'm all professional, though, so I dont do that, but I'm pretty sure I'm grinning like a maniac most of the time.

First day of kindergarten for Juniper Jr. Report: Something happened that had to do with gingerbread cookies. That's all I know.

First day of Mr. Juniper picking up Jr at kindergarten. Report: Total and complete chaos.

First day of new morning daycare for Jr. Report. Oops, guess not. The school bus doesnt stop near there after all. Tomorrow we are trying again at the more expensive, further away place that does, however, take the kids to school in a van. (Muttered under breath: "Curse you Oregonians and your no taxes and your ridiculous two hour instead of full day kindergarten program...")

First day of guys tearing down walls to make our new place all perfect for Mr. Juniper and his big wheelchair. Report: Dusty.

First day of a blog with all comments erased from past entries due to acting without thinking. Report: Not as tragic as you might think, even though there were many treasures there. I think maybe with all these other firsts it's not really making a ripple. Feel free to post a comment now, though. I think they're working again.

Geeks only need apply

I seem to have made a bad decision and now all my comments are gone.
Anyone know how to move Haloscan comments over to Blogger? Are the comments even held at Haloscan still? Or if I forgot what I was doing and finally upgraded to the new template, thus erasing the comments as far as I can tell, am I just out of luck?

Sunday, September 02, 2007

What I did on My Summer Vacation

So much to say about moving to a new city, unpacking with the unbelievable amount of help we've gotten from new church folk and my Vermont brother, visiting the school where Eli will be in the afternoons (awesome!) and the Y where he'll be in the mornings (ok. but we have another option if we need it), discovering the cool park near our house with a lake the perfect distance for a five year old and his mom to bike around, and figuring out the exact configuration of lights to be turned on at night to minimize nightmares for everyone.

But here's what I'm really thinking about on this Sunday afternoon. I'm thinking about technology in churches. Out of three churches that I've visited at random in the last four weeks, two of them used a screen with power point for the words to the songs and for other things too. Is this a typical ratio now? One handled it a little better than the other (is this because in the first one, the pastor was looking at a screen, too? Maybe.) I've come away feeling a little on the stodgy side about it. I mean, at my previous church the senior pastor would sometimes project art images on wall using a computer, so I'm not a total novice at this idea. And, based on current usages, you'd have to guess that I am a big fan of technology in general and computers in particular.

But re having the words projected: it just does not create a worshipful environment for me. I can believe that it's better for the pastor to have everyone looking "up" instead of into the bulletins, but I wonder if it really creates a better community feel to have everyone gazing at a big screen during hymns and (at today's service) for sermon points. For me, if there's ever a screen anywhere, i'm always mesmerized by that, and find it hard to look at other things (people, the cross, the elements or whatever.) Do the rest of you have this problem?

I know this is an old conversation, but I sure would appreciate having your opinion about screens in general and your experience in particular.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Feeling so good and then...

I was feeling pretty good about everything when I posted this entry at noon.
Now it is 7 or so, and I just realized I put it on the wrong blog. So maybe I'm not doing quite as good as I thought. But I'm hoping a night of sound sleep will put everything right.
Full moon blessings, everyone. Here's my noon thoughts.

Tomorrow is our real live moving day. Today is the day the packing guys are here - three 23 year old whirlwinds, which is why I'm typing instead of packing. In the future, whatever you have to hock it worth it to have the packing guys, fyi. Took them something under four hours to get all our worldly possessions into boxes (Including the wet towels from this morning's showers that were drying on the racks in the bathroom. Um, thanks guys.)

After all that mortgage drama, we pretty much thought it got as dramatic as it could get around here. But that was before last Tuesday, when Mr. Juniper's wheelchair malfunctioned and it stopped short, but he did not. The result was that he flew onto the sidewalk, broke a bone in his ankle, sprained something else in the same foot that makes it all very ouchie, and spilled a quantity of his precious blood on the sidewalk from a big scrape in his head. An evening in the ER and a morning at Casts R Us was just not how we planned to spend our last few days in Seattle.

Now that it's only noon and the rest of the day stretches out unexpectadly before me, I feel like I should be doing something, Maybe I should write something. Maybe something about being provided for; or about what my pal said when I called after Jeff's accident sobbing "why is God DOING this to me???"and she reminded me that everything is not actually about me; or about the sweet young couple that answered our Craigslist notice for a free loveseat by coming over and testing it out with a 15 minute cuddle and then decided to take it; or about the sun that shines on your last day in your old town.

Or instead I could go play catch with a 5 year old boy with the miraculously unpacked ball and bat. I think I'll go do that.

Monday, August 20, 2007

en route to other things...

I rediscovered the Poem A Day site. Might be, as school is starting for some of you, that you'd like to add this to your morning routine. Or not. But it's out there, just in case.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

one week to moving day

In the midst of packing (Yes, we are getting help with this but I really dont want other people to mess with my books, which I have in ORDER just like I LIKE them. Man, moving sure brings out my not-so-inner inner neurotic.), making phone calls (so many phone calls), and worrying about how 2 grownups can be starting new jobs on the very same day as a child is starting kindergarten (who is going to hang around outside in the school parking lot trying to see in the windows all afternoon? hmmmm?) I have also had 5 incredible hours of bliss at the spa and three incredible hours being blessed and and loved up by good seattle friends at a party/ceremony this afternoon. So with all that good energy, i'm 80 percent doing great and 20 percent freaking out, which seems just about the best you can hope for.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Harry Potter Fan Club Member

Hey, remember how I used to be so casual about the whole Harry Potter thing? Remember how I didnt really get it? Remember how I couldnt answer that question about what which one was my favorite, because I was pretty sure I hadnt read all of them and, and the ones I had read I was pretty sure I hadnt read all the way through?

That was all before I picked up the copy of 7 I got for Jeff at Target a week or so ago when there was nothing else around to read, and 12 hours later looked up all bleary eyed and heart poundy. I havent read a book in one big gulp like that for a while. Hurrah for cousins to play with the boy so mommy can read. Anyway, before my nap, I'm checking into say:

People who say HP is somehow antiChristian are not drinking from the same fountain I'm at, unless they like their christianity without all the sacrifice and love parts. (And what's left is....??)

I would have read it a lot sooner if you all'd told me how delightfully quidditch free # 7 is. Turns out I cannot love organized sports no matter how much I try, and all that sport was kind of bogging me down.

I wish I would have read more carefully hitherto. I feel like I missed a lot of, you know, plot.

Ok, gotta sleep now.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Coming up for air

Heading into the second week of vacation and visits with family and friends.

20th high school reunion was way cooler than I thought it would be. We seem to have all turned out.

Rochester, Minnesota. Wow, it sure is hot.

Five days, one more paper signing, and approximately 657 phone calls later (including one from The World's Hardest Working Realtor that said, "The plane containing your papers has had difficulty, was rerouted and ultimately grounded. I am calling to say that your papers were moved to another plane and are in the air. I repeat: Your papers are in the air.") we seem to now actually own a house.

RE nieces you only see once a year: The difference between 13 and 14 is astonishing.

Vacation reading: Grace Eventually (AL is hilarious again. And still so smart and real.), The Elephant in the Boardroom: Speaking the Unspoken About Pastoral Transitions (This had some good ideas. I skipped the parts that didnt seem to apply to me. Which made me wonder if maybe I could have just read an article instead of a whole book.), Murder on the Orient Express (Worth re-reading, even though you know the ending, you spoiler-haters), Cant Wait to Get to Heaven (Read about 50 pages, left it on mom's porch, 1300 miles from the library where it is due back sometime.) and Harry Potter (Now on page 112! This really IS the best one! Even though I know what happens! Hey, what am I doing on the computer? I could be reading right now!)

Friday, August 03, 2007

yesterday, today and tomorrow

We made and received about a dozen phone calls yesterday from the title company, the realtor and Bill the Notary about the mortgage of the house we are still buying. It all started like this: We signed for a house on Monday, the same day our mortgage company was bought out by someone else, so they could not do our loan after all. (Also, lots of the nice people are out of jobs.) After some back and forth, another company was found who would give us the same deal, but we had to re-sign all the papers, so at 8 pm last night Bill The Notary came to my mom and stepdad's house to help us with that. After 45 minutes on the phone with the realtor about an extra $721.45 which had appeared on the new documents, then another 10 to clear up whether our new address ends in STREET or AVENUE since the papers say both in different places, we were finally done. Today, our only mortgage task is to wire some money somehow from our bank in Seattle to the title company in Portland. Which will have to wait a couple of hours since we are still in Minnesota, in central time.

Even though my body is on Pacific Time still, I was awake this morning at 6 am. Instead of going to back to sleep (tempting) I went for a long walk along Skyline Drive, saw the sun rise and a white tailed deer and gazillions of birds including one round bright blue one I couldnt recognize and a pair of goldfinches. Then my family was still dozing, so I got in the car and drove to the co-op where I used to work, back when I thought I was going to be in the natural foods industry forever. They've moved to a new space now, and I didn't recognize anyone until I bumped into Jim (have I told you about Jim? the conspiracy theorist who made a replica of the grassy knoll out of legos? yeah, he's that cool.). I re-introduced myself - I've been gone for ten years, after all, and I've been living high on the hog since then so I'm definately rounder than I used to be be in my lean co-op girl days. Also grayer and wrinklier. But he remembered me, and said he always thinks about those days when we used to goof around with Rebecca in the back room of the store as really good times. I agreed.

I feel so different now, not just in the rounder and grayer category, but also I seem to have turned into the kind of person who talks about her mortgage on a cell phone while at the beach with her son. Mostly, I like who've I'm turning into - I'm a lot calmer for one thing, and a lot kinder to other people and myself. And it seems like, at almost 40, it's appropriate and even joyful to have more responsibilities now that I did then.

But. Still. And. However.

I keep starting sentences, but I cant think how to end this, something regretfully nostalgic doesn't seem quite right, and neither does a repudiation of my former life in favor of the way things are now. I'm looking back, I'm looking ahead, I'm trying to stay in the present somehow too, and I'm trying to love what there is to love about all of it. Maybe that's all we're supposed to do anyway.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Things Fall Apart

On Tuesday, we landed at the Minneapolis airport and drove north on the freeway.
Almost exactly 24 hours later, in the middle of rush hour, a piece of that freeway fell into the Mississippi River. Our local family and friends are accounted for, but things are uncertain for so many this morning. If you're the praying kind, prayers would help just now.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Water Wings

Once at a hotel pool, I saw a woman speaking with subdued viciousness to her children while they prepared to swim and then tried to follow her many directions to not run, not splash, be nice to your sister. But when asked, she bent tenderly over the stick-thin arms of her little son and blew into the valve of his water wings, so he could float.

Ever since, I've wished I was a poet, so I could write a poem about it. About how the mother bent her head over the son, how the movement of her breath reminded me of the suckling that had sustained him once. If I was a poet, I would know if that was a good metaphor or not.

I would know how to write about how, even on the days when our resentment is deepest, we feed our children with our bodies, and then later hold them up with our own strong, ephemeral breath and then, last of all, send them out into the water to feed and breathe on their own.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Friday Five - weather

From Sally over at RevGals:

1. Have you experienced living through an extreme weather event- what was it and how did you cope?
First answer: No.
Second Answer: Unless you count one of my first memories. Which is standing on the porch of my parent's dorm/apartment building with them and watching the sky turn green while a tornado passed nearby. Since I was like 4, I dont remember anything else about that time, only feeling very small. Which is maybe what big weather does to anyone.
Third Answer: When I first moved to Seattle I used to try this tell story about a protest we had at the Federal Building in Minneapolis during the first gulf war, but I could never get past the first line "It was about 10 below, you know, so we were wearing...." without getting stopped for a few minutes of incredulity. So I guess extreme is maybe a matter of perspective.

2. How important is it that we wake up to issues such as global warming?
One answer. Extremely imperative.

3. The Christian message needs to include stewardship of the earths resources agree/ disagree?
Agree. The best sermon I've heard lately about global warming had a "Hope above all. If we fall into despair then we've already lost" kind of message.

And because it is summer- on a brighter note....

4. What is your favourite season and why?
Fall, fall, FALL! Maybe because I love school so much. (cou-geek-gh) And I got married in October. And is it trite to say "the leaves"?

5. Describe your perfect vacation weather....
Sunny. Not too hot. A little breezy. And early every morning, a gentle, little rainfall.
Although 90 degree F and 90% humidity (vacation in Minnesota right around the corner!) can also have its own weird charms after a cool PNW July.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Joke Hat

Seems like most everyone in the blogosphere is out of sorts. Even Jody. I mean, you know things are bad when they're even losing their tempers over at House of WEG. Some people have really heartrending news to share, others are just cranky.

Personally, I'm in the just cranky camp. We are in the death throes of buying a house. People are all the time asking us "did you buy a house?" as if it's a done deal. Probably other people just go and buy and a house, but for us FINDING a house has been followed by 22 days of daily (sometimes hourly) phone calls, faxes, and garment rending. In terms of increase in (in)tense marital conversation, (hmm, say THAT three times fast!) it has definately outranked anything we've done so far, including parenting a sick kid. We may sign on Monday if nothing else goes awry. Then it's time to start wrangling about a remodel. So, it's cranky with the anticipation of more cranky. Nice.

Since you always preach what you need to hear, my sermon last Sunday was about How Jesus Would Have Us Solve Conflict, about getting to the heart of the matter, speaking Truth, and living as if the Kingdom were at hand. It was very mature and grace-filled I am sure, but sometimes, and I'm thinking just now is one of those times, you don't need to roll up your sleeves and get down and dirty and figure it all out. Sometimes you need your joke hat.

A thousand years ago, when Bob was still alive and the company was basically just him and a few friends, I used to work at Red House Records as sort of a student intern. I say "sort of" because I received neither financial compensation nor school credit for much of the time - but I was paid in, as Bob said "all the music you can eat." I took home to my dorm room tottering little piles of cassette tapes (tapes!) and I went to lots of concerts.

Of the artists I met, realest of all was Spider John Koerner. To 20-year-old me seemed like he'd been around pretty much forever and he owned Shenendoah as far as I could tell. He was shy and dry, and he'd sing all these sad, serious old folk songs. Then, part way through his set, he'd reach under his chair and pull out his joke hat and grin and put it on. He'd tell a joke, probably a long rambling one. Can't remember any of the jokes he told now, although I remember laughing my head off, mostly because he's the only person in America who can still manage to look dignified in that hat.

I dont know that many jokes, but I do remember one that I heard Ferron tell* the night my mom and I drove an hour and half to see her in concert in an old school gym or something, one we still laugh at. And that night is high on the list of Favorite Times Out With Mom, mostly because of the laughing.

So - remembering that Truth is important, and Figuring Things Out, and Process are too, I'm remembering that laughing has it's place and now I'm finally getting to the point to ask you:

Do you know any jokes? I'd love to hear them - either in the comments or over at your place. All around us, things are sad and serious. It seems like it's time for the joke hat.

*Here's the joke that Ferron told:

What did the zero say to the eight?


Nice belt.

Try saying it out loud. It's better that way.