Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Snow Day Quotations

Monopoly is AWESOME.


Can I go outside? Can I go outside? Can I go outside?
Can I come inside? Can I come inside? Can I come inside?


How did you see me eating the chocolate Santa if I was under my bed the whole time?

Sunday, December 27, 2009

By the way, this is this blog's 600th Post

Now that it's December 27, I'm thinking about things pretty much exclusively in Top 10 lists, how about you?

Here's one possible top 10. Stay tuned - who knows? More might follow.

Top Ten Favorite Books Read This Year (in no particular order)

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Wednesday Night Gleeless Random

I keep starting things and then erasing them. I seem to be a little out of sorts or something. Let's keep it simple and say it's because there's no Glee on tonight.

I want to tell you about the kitchen, I guess. It's mostly remodeled except for the dishwasher which doesnt fit - oops. It's a matter of eighths of inches, so just a little modification is needed. Luckily, the modification that is needed is to replace counter tops, which is good because they have a weird seam in them and needed to be replaced anyway.

Our Mostly Most Excellent Contractor swears this will all be done by next Tuesday, which is now so many days past the "This Project Absolutely Must Be Done By December 10th" deadline that it sort of doesnt matter. In retrospect, probably an entire kitchen remodel in December was not a good choice. At the time, it seemed like one of those "get it all over with at once" kind of things. Well. Live and learn.

On the up side, we have such a tiny house, knocking down the wall to the kitchen actually makes the whole house suddenly different, and in a good way, I think. More open and welcoming, which is certainly what I hoped. And, when cooking or cleaning up, I DO feel less trapped in the 8th ring of housework hell, and more like a part of the family, so that is good.

And it's beautiful. So beautiful. Did I mention?

In the meantime, we are still eating on paper plates to avoid doing dishes what E calls "the pioneer way" (unironically, incidentally. 7 is a very unironical age) by which he means without the dishwasher. So we are celebrating the Birth of the Baby Jesus by killing more trees.

Speaking of killing trees, J and E got me the coolest birthday present ever, which is a bonsai tree. They got it because E noticed me admiring the bonsai at the Saturday Market. Of course, the leaves, which were all green when I unwrapped it have (some of them anyway) started to turn brown. The note on it says it's an Outside Chinese Elm, and that I should water everyday in Spring, Summer and Fall.

It is winter, and there's no instructions for that, so I have watered it once in a week. Also, I am keeping it inside. I have a vague fear of overwatering, or of putting it outside in winter, but should I do those things? I met a kind of kooky woman one time who kept talking about how she wanted to move back to the midwest but couldnt because there was no way to move the bonsai. So I dont want to turn into THAT person, but I would like to try and keep it alive at least for a little while. So any advice from you green thumb types would be more than appreciated.

Speaking of keeping things alive, I ordered a copy of Ten November right from the publisher, which is $81.00 cheaper than getting it from Amazon. Sheesh. Sometimes I do not understand the internet. My dad gave me the idea of using a quote from there for my sermon on Sunday. I will let you know how it goes.

Speaking of sermons and Sunday - it's a busy time, and I'm busy of course. But I'm really aware that I'm not dealing with as much as some folks I know, so I'm thinking of you all who are grieving or getting pulled in a million directions with so much compassion tonight. Hope you can get a little bit of Peace with a capitol P this season.

Speaking of Peace, its really really really time for sleep, so I'm going to nab some. Hope you are getting some of that, too, wherever you are.

Right Answer: An Elijahlogue

Child: I'm the boss of this place.
Mother: Hmm, what does that make me?
Child: The SUPER-boss.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Flying: An Elijahlogue

7 year old: How would you like to FLY?
2 year old: (pondering)
7 year old: You know, fly?
2 year old: (still considering)
7 year old: How does it sound to FLY like a BIRD?
2 year old: Dangerous.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

The one good thing about Barack Obama's Speech... that now I have lots of fodder for Second Sunday In Advent Peace Theme sermon.

But that seems like a pretty high price to pay for sermon fodder.

Monday, November 30, 2009

And Easy Way to Pray? Sign me up!

This in my inbox from Barbara Crafton.
Would you like some encouragement for your own daily prayer practice? Every Advent, I offer readers a chance to receive the greeting "Let us bless the Lord!" from me every morning. As you may know, it is the way in which many worship services end, a signal to venture forth from prayer back into the world, refreshed. When you receive my greeting, you answer back with "Thanks be to God!" That's it. It's not rocket science, but sometimes just those few words are enough to put you in mind of receiving the gift of prayer God wants to give you.If you'd like to receive "Let Us Bless the Lord." just ask, in email to
Remember Barbara? Love her. She was the one who once said something like "if you want to know God but dont pray, you're like a person who needs a hammer but refuses to go to the hardware store." So I'm gonna try this, before someone has to go get the hammer for me.

Advent Retreat - Right On Time

"A wizard is never late, nor is he early, he arrives precisely when he means to." Gandalf

It's 7:15 in the morning, and I'm already feeling late. With the RevGals, I'm co-facilitating an advent retreat today and it's already been going on for hours and hours - Mompriest and Songbird have already posted their thoughts on Advent, mine will come up in a few more hours.

So I'm beginning the day by breathing and pushing back the feeling that I'm already late - late for the day, late to the season, late to understand what is going on somehow. This is an old feeling, and a tired one, the feeling that Everyone Else Gets It,and somehow I do not. Yesterday, I told my church "It's about you, but it's not ONLY about you," and I remember those reassuring words today. Advent arrives, and then the Christ Child whether I am awake or not, whether I am ready or not, whether I understand or not.

It's Monday morning, and there are a few things to do. I just woke up from a vivid dream which makes me think there is someone I should visit very soon. There is breakfast to get and Bible study to prepare. I am not too late. Neither are you. Wherever you are, whatever time zone you are in, it's time to arrive in your day.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Today's Sermon

I'm never sure if these really translate, you know, as written documents. But for those of you interested in these kinds of things, here's today's sermon.

Many years ago, in an art history lecture, I heard something that has stayed with me for all the years since: “The way you can tell the difference between classical art and postmodern art” the lecturer said, “is that classical art is a window through which you see the world and postmodern art is a mirror into which you look at yourself. In postmodern art, what you notice is not so much what the piece is depicting, but how it makes you feel, what it makes you think, how it changes you. (Thanks Dr. Arnie Klukas, wherever you may be these days.)

It’s because of this one statement that I think of Vincent VanGogh’s painting Starry Night created in 1889, as one of the first postmodern paintings. At first glance, it might seem to be a “window” painting. After all, it IS the view from the window of the sanatorium where VanGogh was staying at the time. But, although it is a picture of a night sky, it is a work which he painted from memory, during the day. (This and other information about Starry Night from Wikipedia. Awesome idea of connecting this scripture to this painting from Feasting on the Word.) So, it’s not exact replica. Rather it’s a reflection of VanGogh’s night-time state of mind, as remembered by him during the day. It’s not a window, it’s a mirror. Rather than showing you something exact, by viewing it, you have a window into VanGogh’s mind, heart, soul; and your own too.

So, with that in mind, I invite you now to take a moment with the painting, Starry Night by Vincent Van Gogh. Look at it, rather than looking at window, instead as if in a mirror. When you look at it, what does it make you think of? What does it make you feel? What does it remind you of?

It might be helpful to consider today’s passage from Luke in the same way – as less of a window than a mirror. Rather than hear these words as a picture painted of events that will happen exactly as depicted, think of these words instead as a mirror. It is helpful to spend time with words of scripture like this with the same questions we asked of the painting. (Starry Night was painted by the way, when VanGogh felt “a terrible need for religion” and which shows a sky in as much turmoil as the sky in the scripture passage. )

Now, here’s what I believe. Rather than a grand final judgment, in which Jesus will return to terrorize and amaze the world, I believe that the kingdom is being revealed all the time, every day. I believe not in one cataclysmic event, but in the everyday unfolding of the Reign. What then does a passage like this - in which the planets provide signs so terrifying and absolute that people faint from fear - have to say to we who believe in this way?

Well, first, it might be helpful to remember what it is that people who believe in apocalyptic actually believe."Apocalypticism is the religious belief that there will be an apocalypse a term which originally referred to a revelation of God's will, but now usually refers to belief that the world will come to an end time very soon, even within one's own lifetime. This belief is usually accompanied by the idea that civilization, as we know it, will soon come to a tumultuous end with some sort of catastrophic global event such as war." (Quote from Wikipedia) In other words, a big, one time event.

It’s can become almost a joke, this view of the end of the world. You know that guy in the cartoons wearing a beard down to his knees and a tattered robe, carrying the “end is near” sign? How about the recent movie 2012, which one citizen review acknowledged contained “Good cataclysmic Action, but waayyy to much bad kitsch…” It can be kitschy, this view of apocalypse

With these kinds of jokes, what does this kind of scripture have to seriously say to you and to I? Well, it depends on how you look at a scripture like this. If you look at it as if through a window, you are going to start looking for these exact things to happen in just this way.

And on the one hand, this may have been a very real warning to the people of Jerusalem. Jesus is talking in the temple – a place he both loved and challenged, the center of power for his faith and system that has grown unjust and corrupt. He is warning them that things cannot go on in the way of injustice. And it is true that some years later, the temple was destroyed, brought to the ground in what must have been a scene of confusion and terror. A one time event. (Thanks folks at Working Preacher Brainwave for conversation on this, and also for discussing why passages like this do not mean that God is a sadist.)

But what if we look at this passage as if looking into a mirror, not a window? Think again about how it makes you feel to hear those words – the day when the planets themselves seemed out of order, you were confused, the wind and the sea roared.

Look in the mirror – you’ve had days like that.

Because we’ve had times, each of us, when the planets seemed out of order – the absence of a loved one, the layoff, the accident, the illness, the divorce, the unwanted legal action, the death. At times like these it does seem that the roar of the wind is so loud that you can hear nothing else. At times like this, it does seem like the planets have been rearranged.

When Jesus says “this generation will not pass away before these things have come to pass,” it sends window-scripture readers paging through their bibles looking for signs to back up the signs. But for those of us who see passages like this as a mirror, instead, we know that Jesus is saying “this is business as usual – death and accidents, and brokenness and grief happen. In every generation they happen, including this one.”

But that’s not all that happens in every generation. Jesus is also saying, “Business as usual is God’s work too, and the way God comes to us - bold and beautiful and frightening - is business as usual, too."

In hard times, good, well meaning folks will sometimes say something like: “God doesn’t give you more than you can handle,” or even “God is testing you” like it’s GOD who’s set up the situation which moves your world. No. In times like these, business as usual times, God grieves more than anyone. In hard times, it's God who sends small but life giving reminders of hope in the most hopeless times.

Let me warn you of a little danger. There is a little danger that mirror-lookers might turn into navel gazers. You have to walk this path carefully, because this IS about you, but it’s not ONLY about you. Listen to Jesus when you feel like you might doing just a little too much navel gazing. “Look at the fig tree, and all the trees. As soon as they sprout leaves, you can see for yourself and know that summer is already near.”

In that time of interior calamity – of the confusion and the roar – it is the beauty and constancy of the tree’s movement from one season to the next that reminds us that the revealing of the kingdom is not a one time deal, but an every day, every moment occurrence, we just need to open our eyes to see.

When the planets are crashing around us, can we take a moment to pause and look for the barely budding, sweetly opening leaves of the fig tree? Can we dare to find hope in unexpected, and yet expected too, signs of life in creation and in one another?

The apostle Paul expected it. Separated as he was from the Thessalonians, he expected to see them again face to face, knowing that it was their relationship with each other, the love they felt and knew for one another, that would restore loss of hope they had. And you’ve seen it too. In the sun breaking through the clouds. In the phone call that restores a relationship. In the touch of a hand. In a kind word said at just the right time. At a prayer unexpectedly, and yet expectedly too, answered.

And remembering that is what advent is all about. Unlike the retail Christmas season that sends us in a frenzy out to grab the one “must have thing,” in advent we say, “we are people of hope because we know that the kingdom is not going to be revealed in the single cataclysm of being first in line to purchase this year’s must have toy (which by the way is a robotic hamster which rolls around, makes 40 different sounds depending on its environment and comes with quote "tons of accessories" – we hope that tons is not to be taken literally) rather than that one perfect toy – a one time event, we are looking for signs of hope every day, in every small thing.

In the weeks to come, we will hear snippets of the Christmas story – we will hear of angels who proclaim good news, of shepherds who are willing to hear and leave all that was familiar, of a young mother who says yes to god, of a husband and father willing to trust, of wise ones following a star. We might be tempted to think of these as one time, cataclysmic events – life changing. We might be tempted to look at the Christmas story through a window, as events that happened once to other people, long ago. But for each of us, if we see the Christmas story as a mirror, not a window, we will see that each day we have the opportunity to wake up and proclaim, to be willing to hear, to say yes to God, to trust, to follow. These are not cataclysmic, one time events, but every day every day every day opportunities. These are the ways in which the kingdom is revealed. These are the ways in which the Christ child is born anew within each of us. Amen.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Lifting Rocks

Over at her place, KJ is writing about time management, and that rock and pebble thing where you have to put the big stones in the bowl first, because if you only put the little ones in, the big ones will never fit.

So, the problem as it see it is figuring out which are the big stones. Because some things look real big and heavy, but when you get right up to em and heft em, you find out they're not all that. What I'm finding out is, the less I know about a stone (to carry this metaphor all the way and really probably further than it can bear), the heavier it looks, the more I strain to pick it up and the harder I try to push it into the bowl.

Tonight, I met with the truly awesome Pastor Relations Committee and they helped me see that - some of those big stones I've been hauling around? Pebbles.


Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Wednesday Night Random

- I just got out of last step of bedtime routine ("hang out time" - which E usually does with his dad who uses this time to answer any question he can think of. Last week's question "how does time work?") by asking the boy if he would rather "talk about feelings with me, or machines and space and stuff with your dad?" Answer: "Um, can you go get dad?"

- Really, though, he does need to talk about his feelings. Or process them some way or another. Because there is an awful lot of crying going on around here these days. I think I've heard that's usual for 7. Would you say so?

- Speaking of feelings, I am still feeling the LOVE for the class I'm taking on NonProfit Management, coincidentally skills I'm using in spades these days. I think I mentioned that a coupla weeks ago, I talked to a lawyer, insurance agent, a banker and the fire marshall all one afternoon. Not skills I came into this job with, negotiating with those folks.

-Although I am also seeing a big increase in people asking for help - financial and psychospiritual - this fall. Hard times, man. They are not over.

- But back to my class. I got moderately booed last night for this contribution to class conversation:
Guy: Some study came out that said that some of the companies that are the biggest supporters of the American Cancer Society actually produce products that cause cancer.
Me: Well, does that partnership surprise you? If there was no cancer, there would be no ACS.
Class: Moderate boos and one "wow, cynical"
Me: I mean, just really look at their stuff sometime. It's all cure, cure, cure. But nobody's talking cause, cause, cause.
Someone else: (total change of subject)

-Evidently this is a minority opinion, and probably an unpopular one, so feel free to boo the comments.

-Speaking of being booed for unpopular opinions, I wrote a letter to the editor today. I dont do that too often, because when I was in my early 20's, I wrote one on behalf of the justice group at my church at the time, which made some people mad. But that's not why I'm shy about writing letters to the editor. I'm shy because in the little debrief meeting we had with the mad people, an English teacher who I really respected said, "Well, I don't agree with it, but mostly I'm offended because it was just really badly written..." (Years later, I was redeemed, though, when I went back to that same church to preach, and that guy had a really thoughtful and positive comment. Which I cant remember, of course, because you know how the kind ones dont stick the same way? But I can remember the good, full circle feeling I had.)

-I'll let you know if it gets published. And then you can be the judge of well written or not.

-Trying to think of the funny thing that one of the kids said tonight (besides 26-month-old godson saying PINE-APP-PULL which you totally had to be there for) or SOMETHING, but I seem to be fresh out of funny. So I guess I'll just end this randomness here and twiddle my thumbs for 35 minutes until Glee comes on.

Friday, November 06, 2009

Things To Do

E is gone for a couple of days, on vacation with his awesome Godfamily.

Things I dont want to do while he is gone:
Space out on the internet all day.
Raid his Halloween candy (the non-chocolate ones, natch).

Things I want to do while he is gone:
Way more than is possible, including working in the yard, which I better get to now because the sun is unexpectedly shining.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Language: An Elijahlogue

Boy: I know a bad word. I know what the F word is.
Girl: What is it?
Boy: I think it's foopy.
Girl: FOOpy?!?!?
Boy: YOU said it!

Monday, November 02, 2009

Monday, Monday: An Elijahlogue

It's 7:37 am. First day of Fall Back.

E is saying: My body really doesn't feel like going to school today.

E is thinking: Hmm, wonder if I can get away with it again this week.

Mommy is saying: Well, you're just gonna hafta man up.

Mommy is thinking: Hmm, wonder if I've been watching just a little too much Glee lately.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Things that make it better

-a vase of yellow roses
-"Process is more important than outcome."
-Mediteranian Pizza for dinner (spinach, olives, pinenuts,feta, garlic, zukes and romas)
-and then baklava for dessert
-red leaves, yellow leaves, orange leaves
-good friend on the phone
-ok hair day
-sunshine through rain because SOMEWHERE there's a rainbow
-a boy who puts "pottery wheel" on the top of his October Christmas Wish List
-2 recommended books arriving in the mail
-The Land of Oz
-someone telling it like it is, but kindly
-prayers for sick friends
-getting one more day to pay the thing that is already late
-wearing my favorite sweater all day for the second day in a row
-a dog who doesnt need too much but to know that we are close by
-a voice from another time zone
-and remembering kissing too soon and everyone laughing

Friday, October 16, 2009

Friday Five

Havent done one of these for awhile, but this has actually been on my mind for a while, so here goes: Shoe Friday Five from Jan.

Too often the Friday Fives I offer up seem extremely introspective, so here's something that could be fun. I notice as I finish my sixth decade that my taste in footwear is much different than when I was younger, as comfort wins out over fashion. So look at your feet and think about what you put on them!

1. What is your favorite footwear at this time in your life?
Most often wear: Dansko Clogs
Most awesome/favorite: Frey boots

2. What was the craziest shoe, boot, or sandal you ever wore?
Well. I've never been much of a crazy shoe wearer. In my 20's, I wore Doc Marten black lace ups, or knockoffs thereof. I wore silver flats on my wedding. They were not crazy, but they WERE shiny. I was just lamenting to someone yesterday that I didnt wear pretty, impractical shoes more often when I could have BEFORE I turned old and my feet started hurting.

3. What kind of shoes did you wear in your childhood?
I remember saddle shoes as a little girl. And, in middle school, some kind of kooky multi-colored hightops. Honestly cant remember a single pair of shoes I had in high school, except for the died-to-match violet shoes that went with my prom/graduation dress. I ended up only wearing one of those on graduation day, actually, because I had a broken toe and had to wear a "boot" on the other one.

4. How do you feel most comfortable? Barefoot, flip-flops, boots, or what?
Clogs, baby, clogs. I have this annoying foot thing, so my brother Dr. Jacob (hes not a doctor, but he plays one when it comes to shoes) has taken me off flip-flops for life. I've never been much of a barefoot person anyway - I always seem to live in climates with cold floors - so this is ok. But I'm hoping my feet survive the work out thing I'm starting this time (I'm great for starting work out things but not finishing them, how about you?), which is the couch to 5k.

5. What kind of socks do you like, if any?
SmartWool - funny, pretty, last forever

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Bonus Elijahlogue or Uh-Oh, Mommy Better Get a Hobby

E: I watched this show about how things work and they took apart this exercise machine, what do you call it? (moves arms and legs as if skiing)

Mommy: Oh, the elliptical machine.

E: Yeah! Maybe you could watch that show with me sometime, when they call it How to Make A Church.

Mommy: Wait a minute, I'm interested in other things, besides church.

E: (thoughtfully) Hm. I did not know that.

And scene.

Brought this up at clergy group today and joked it was time to get a hobby, so someone suggested I take up snowboarding. Well, thanks, but if by "hobby" you mean "spending a week's wages to risk my neck by speeding down an icy mountain," I'll pass. I'm taking other suggestions, though.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

What's Your Elevator Speech?

I'm taking this rather awesome class at PSU with the uninspired title "Introduction to NonProfit Management" during which those of us who are actually working in nonprofits spend about 85% of the time nodding in vigorous agreement. The prof, who is a non profit director himself, is just so very practical and has a way of breaking things into paradigms that you KNOW, but you've never had language for before. So, it's really great and it's helping me every single day, so far.

Anyway, last week, he told us "you should be able to describe your organization in 3 minutes (including, he added, time for a joke and questions)." I've heard this concept called Elevator Speech before-meaning, you should be able to describe your passion in the time it takes to ride an elevator. (Not like people in my experiene actually spend any time TALKING on the elevator, but whatever.) Nothing earthshattering, I know, but it did get me start thinking how I am no good at that, at all. I tend to "wellllll..." and to "on the one hand this, but on the other hand that...." Not sure why this is, but it probably has to do with the "oh. that's. um. nice." you get from most people when you tell them you're a minister. Not like the reaction the cool girl who sits next to met gets when she says she's the volunteer coordinator for the roller derby.

Yesterday, I was reminded of this again when Godsister's quiet pal, Sweet Friend said her first words to me of the evening in the quiet after the whirlwind caused by the other children rushing from the table to play: "My mom and dad don't believe in God, but I do."

Well. Of all the things I COULD have said at the moment, what I DID say "Well, both are probably ok, but it's when people start fighting about it that we get into trouble," was certainly not the best.

Then, "That thing you do, where you hold hands and sing? My mom doesn't do that. Why do you do that?" This is where I have the REAL Elevator Speech problem. I mean, there probably IS a one sentence response to "why do you pray?" but I'm sure I dont know what it is.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Cruising dog postings...

on, and really I'm amazed that no one has written a novel based on these. I mean, the posts have everything - love, despair, grief, joy, as well as all of life's changes: divorce, death, birth, moving.

Everyones has their own method for getting rid of a dog, and it's fascinating to read the different approaches. For example, there's the well-organized:
There has definately been some training (sitting, down, no, etc.), but must be consistent and firm. He comes with a nice large kennel, a brand new dog bed, food, dishes, two different collars, a raincoat, treats, etc. We have receipts for items and all his paperwork. It is the most important item on our agenda to find this gorgeous animal the best home possible! Please e-mail us with any questions! Thankyou!!
Read more:
there's desperate:
My Puppies, 12-weeks are brother and sister who need an excellent home. I would keep them but I lost my Job and can't afford my apt fees. PLEASE, THEY HAVE TO BE SOLD TOGETHER. It breaks my heart to seperate them
Read more:
there's practical
I am a disabled Senior. I have had this dog since she was 5 wks old. I got her to train as my Service Dog, and I have been diligently trying to train her as my Service Dog, but I have become too "disabled" to finish the training. I do not want to re-home her, but she has gotten to be too much for me to handle. I need a mellower dog. She is pure-bred and viable. She has a wonderful loving personality. Her conformation is perfect! She loves everyone!
Read more:
But however they write them, see how much more you learn about the people than about the dogs? Fascinating.

Not in the market for another dog, btw, at least not in the immediate future. Sometime would like another pup, probably a smaller one. And when I do, I hope it's a cutie like this one (so adorable, I'm posting him twice!)

Evidently it's some kind of holiday, but I'm at work, how about you?

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Full Moon Week Review

Wondering why I was feeling a wee bit edgy this Sunday night, then looked back over the week.

Which began, let us say, last Sunday when I celebrated Sunday afternoon by hurting a dear one's feelings. Partly becuase I was cranky because I was too busy. Too busy to cook. Ordered pizza for dinner. But they couldnt send the one we wanted because they were out of tomatoes. At the pizza joint.

Then, celebrated Monday morning with a broken wheelchair (the indoor transfer one, not the cool new one), a dramatic backward fall, seemingly -but evidently not - right on the head, resulting in a bruised, but somehow in no other way damaged, husband.
Got to work late, but led Bible study anyway with the patient folk. And, worked with a crew on the church library culling and re-org to send 200+ more books to this year's rummage sale (Because biographies of missionaries are interesting but only to a point, you know?) Then, came home from day of moving books to rearrange the bedroom furniture.

The rest of the week included:
Having my first first-day-of-school since 1998. Having the second to last meeting before we sign our lives away with the guy who's going to take out our kitchen and put a new one in. Worrying my mother. Engaging in several intense but profitable conversations. Brainstorming about transfer wheelchair - fix it, or something new? - and deciding to fix it. In the meantime, performing lots of extra transfer help. Lunching with two new friends, which took longer than usual because they were somehow out of bread. At the sandwich place. Doing dishes. Doing laundry. Making the bed. Packing lunches, but not every day. Not sweeping. Not dusting. Driving E to school, or taking him to the bus. Picking E up from school, or picking him up at the bus. Trying to find the new library signs so the community service worker could put them up. Not finding them. Seeing them three days later in plain sight on a chair. Eating a lot of ice cream. Reading several chapters of that second Mysterious Benedict book out loud. Going to the library but forgetting the books that need returning. Checking out more books anyway. Bragging about the sweetness of church folk and then having bragging confirmed. Trying to be encouraging to the rummage sale crew. Not pre-buying at the rummage sale. Going to Freddies for new socks for a fast growing boy. Trying on a shirt. Not buying it. Going to the grocery store at least twice, maybe three times. Attending two days of conference meetings. Forgetting to take either my phone or my wallet to the second day of meetings. Borrowing other people's phones. Borrowing other people's money. Not drinking the wine, but eating too many of the cookies. Hearing a really amazing sermon and a very inspiring keynote. Helping a second grader with homework. Reconnecting with a much appreciated former mentor. Meeting someone I've been wanting to meet. Praying with the Irish Jesuits, once. Dropping off wheelchair to be fixed. Getting a friend to pick up fixed wheelchair. Picking up fixed wheelchair from friend's house. Walking dog on new trail. Going back to Freddies. Trying on shirt again, plus six others. Also, a skirt. Not buying any of them. Deciding fixed wheelchair will not work. Remembering that one lever that adjusts the seat and deciding fixed wheelchair will work after all. Canceling a lunch date. Not reaching cancel-ee, because she left her cell phone at home by accident. Also her keys. In locked house. Feeling relief that I'm not the only one who does stuff like that. Trying to get the furnace going. Not getting the furnace going. Heating with wood. Getting up at 4:45 (yes, that is AM) to get Jeff to the train station. Picking him up again 14 hours later. Not calling Sarah back, but thinking about her alot. Comforting a crying 9 year old and a crying 7 year old at the same time. Trying to figure out what is going on in a committee I had my first meeting with. Receiving an overdue notice from the library. Learning about the sickness of the right-hand-everything-guy. Therefore. Putting together a bulletin for the first time in a while. Finding musicians for worship this morning. Scheduling two things at once. Singing in church. Having a meeting about something new, exciting, scary.

I think I actually worked, too, you know at my actual job. A week like this does make it hard to keep up my new Dorothy Sayers habit, however.

THIS week is already starting out more promisingly, however, with good friend time, lentil soup and a full-moon dog walk. Keep breathing, friends. I will too.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Shall We Gather?

In the first meeting of "Introduction To Nonprofit Management" this evening at Portland State University (which was AWESOME, btw, and PACKED - 45 students), the prof, at the request of the school handed each of us our syllabus individually, rather than just handing someone in the front row a big stack.

This, so we dont "die from flu germs passed on paper when it is handed around the room from person to person." He also told us that Multnomah County is making plans to have up to 40% of their workforce absent for up to 6 weeks this winter.

He said many other things, too, in two and a half hours that flew by. But this is what I'm thinking about tonight. How are we going to respond to the flu at our church?

I've read some little articles that are like, "well, keep hand sanitizer in your sanctuary and don't take communion by intinction," which is all ok advice but doesnt get to the heart of the matter for me which are questions like:
1. If it is advised (or even required) that we don't assemble, should we anyway?
2. And if we don't gather for worship, how can we be agents of healing, community building and spiritual formation anyway?
3. How do we care for the sick? What sort of care will they need?
4. How do we take precautions without fueling hysteria? What is the line between careful and fearful?

The only sort of half formed idea I have is to update the phone tree (again) and to send it along with a letter to the main callers asking them to be ready to make more "check-in" calls than usual. But that seems like such a bare minimum - there must be other ways to get ready besides stocking up on hand sanitizer....

Do you have plans? What are they?

Saturday, September 26, 2009


Thing I Love About My Job #476

A cheery note was left on my car windshield. Found it again today when I was vacuuming out the front seat and got cheered all over again.

Friday, September 25, 2009

A Baby With Teeth

In my dream, I am giving birth. When the baby is born (not in the hospital room where I started up the dream, but on the sidewalk for some reason) he is a real ugly one, with sharp pointy teeth. Suddenly, he is a man and I ask him, "What do YOU want your name to be?" and he opens his mouth - maybe to say - and I see he still has an extra row of teeth.

This dream woke me up in the middle of night a week or so ago, heart pounding. For a minute I felt like that that cartoon woman who slaps her head and cries "Oh, no! I forgot to have a baby!" and wondered if it meant I really WAS supposed to have had another one, and now it's too late. Then, even half awake, I did a little self-applied spiritual direction. "Usually images in dreams are metaphorical, honey. You might want to think about what you are giving birth to right now." And then I relaxed and went back to sleep.

Then, a couple of a days ago, I heard a part of an interview with a woman who's written a book called The Curse of the Good Girl. I only heard part of the interview, but the messages were familiar - that girls grow up believing that if they are just good enough - nice enough, sweet enough, perfect enough- they can bring order to the chaos of daily living. I have had quite a lot of that good girl thing going on for most of my life but I have to say that now that I am
a) 40 and
b) holding a job which requires that I exercise more than a little authority
the good girl thing is just really not working for me anymore.

It will not shock you to learn that sometimes the response to constant sweetness and niceness and affirmation is not honey but, in fact, vinegar. Sometimes you must raise your voice to be heard. Sometimes you have to hold up your hand and interrupt and say "You may not speak to me that way." Sometimes you even have to say, wait for it, no.

So I've been practicing all these things, with - as they are rather new skills for me - sort of mixed success. Nobody thanks you for setting boundaries, it turns out. They dont gush, "Oh, that was so nice of you!" Instead, when I step out of the good girl thing, they look a little shocked and dismayed, like I've just handed them an ugly little pointy-toothed baby. I feel a little sad, too, because really I'd rather hand someone a tiny, sweet, pink bundle of cuddles any day.

But the flip side of all that nicey-nice stuff is a burning resentment that is not generative, but is in fact, death dealing. It's the poison you keep drinking hoping that other people will die from gratitude. But they never do. Thank you enough, I mean, or recognize enough all the very very very nice things you have done. And then you keep dying - little by little - inside.

So that ugly baby, even if it feels like an unwelcome intrusion, is at least the start of some new life. A new life that will grow big and tall and toothy, maybe even faster than I think is possible. Maybe even right before my very eyes.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Ten on Tuesday

1. The visits to this blog (according to site-meter) have now reached an all-time nadir of 6 per week. ::waves to the 6 of you, whoever you are:: Hi there! I love you, you optimists!

2. I walked by a house today that had 2 apple trees and a pear with fruit just falling off of them. And I thought, I could come back and pick those and spend Saturday canning apple butter. But I'm not going to do that. See, 15 years ago, I was all about the whole food, slow food, low food movement. I ate organic and local and raw and vegetarian and home-cooked. I made lasagna from scratch - lasagna so delicious that people would ask me the recipe for it at potlucks! I had rows of glass jars of beans and grains in my kitchen. I look at the rest of the world, and it's like we're on escalators, moving past each other in opposite directions. While you are making homemade vegetable pizza with your kids, or canning the tomatoes you bought at the farmer's market, or browsing the internet for cake recipes using whole wheat flour and soy milk, I'm standing in front of the freezer at TJ's going, "OMG! You can just BUY lasagna ALREADY cooked and heat it up!!?? Why did no one tell me about this before??"

3. Got a grill this summer from a friend who was downsizing, though, so there is that. And although it is propane, which even my Harley driving neighbor says freaks him out, I havent blown anything up. And it's true that hamburgers cooked on a grill are 473x better than other hamburgers.

4. Speaking of Things We Got This Summer: cable TV.

5. However, in spite of what I have always believed, I am not going to become a fan of Dancing With The Stars. :::Shudders thinking of Tom DeLay dancing to Wild Thing with a woman in leopard...what would you call that? ....thong?::: And no, I am not linking to it. Google it yourself.

6. In the never say never department, I seem to be growing my hair out. I'm kind of doing a modified curly girl method thing with it. And since my husband described my hair today as "wavy and luscious" in casual conversation, I'm going to keep it up for a while anyway.

7. E is funny these days. Entering that stage I remember from my own life, where he uses words bravely, without fully grokking the meaning of them. RE finding something to watch on television: "Remember, I am watching, so choose something public." Public in that sentence meaning "any show that will not scare the bejeezus out of me." Meaning, any show about the pyramids and Egypt. Turns out, Egypt is like the new Friends. Any time day or night, you can learn something about the pyramids on TV.

8. New theory = it was not slaves, but highly skilled and well compensated craftspersons who built the pyramids. Which reminds me of Sarah's ex-boyfriend who, when working in a museum as a guard, heard a tour guide gush, "Life in ancient Egypt was GREAT." We've always laughed about that, but maybe she was on to something!

9. I have been surprised once again recently to discover that sometimes people are thoughtless. And downright rude even. It's really very shocking every time I re-discover that.

10. My secret for keeping my weight more or less steady is to not buy any butter. Because no butter = no buttered toast and then really, what's the point of eating? That no butter thing, though? Not going so well since I saw Julie and Julia. Still. I do recommend it. The movie, I mean. Not the butter.

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Sweet boy at 8:27 pm: An Elijahlogue

Mom: I think you need to go to bed.
E: I think YOU need some more snuggles.

The perfect sermon...

...according to my church's music director, by which he means "short." But thought it might of interest to some of the Saturday Sermon Party Rev Gals, who were there for the creation. Also, Rachel, who provided the quotation.

Grow Up!
Sermon on Ephesians 4:4-16

In case you have been completely insulated from all American media for the last 2 weeks, let me catch you up.

On July 16, African American Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr was arrested by white policeman Sgt Joseph Crowley for breaking and entering into his own home, after Gates experienced some difficulty with the front door key. Gates was released a couple hours later when the mistake was discovered but he was shaken and angry and he started telling people what had happened. When President Barack Obama heard about the situation, he called it a “stupid act,” setting off a media frenzy. The president then suggested that he meet with the 2 men over drinks, exciting the media --who dubbed the meeting The Beer Summit -- even more.

Late night comedians in particular have been having a heyday, especially David Letterman, who on Friday bestowed upon the beer summit his highest honor, when he created a top 10 list about it. Well, if Letterman can do it, why can't all of us? What about:

The Top Ten Things Christians Can Learn From the Beer Summit

10. When you make a mistake, admit it
More than one mistake was made in this situation, which makes it tempting to let the other guy take the blame. Just before the passage in Ephesians we heard today, the author urges one-ness beginning with humility. Part of humility is taking responsibility for your part, saying “Mistakes were made – some of them by me.”

9. Rcognize and appreciate diversity
Or, maybe we could call this one: “a professor, a policeman and a president sat down over a beer.” Or, in the words of playwright Lisa Kron, "Other people are not you with their own experience laid on top.” Henry Gates is not just a James Crowley who happens to be black and have a PHD. The racism he has encountered in his life has shaped him in a way that must be understood before Gates and Crowley can sit down together. It’s one thing to see the differences, another to acknowledge them as gifts. The gifts he gave, says the writer of Ephesians, were that some would be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers. Each very different. Each very needed. But...

8. ...Remember that more unites us than divides us
This is not just political rhetoric, convenient for an election year. Listen to Ephesians: one body, one Spirit, one hope of your calling, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all. Unity.

7. Sit around the table together
A policeman, a professor and a president probably wouldn't usually bump into each other in the course of everyday business. How about a black person, a brown person and white person? How about a Christian, a muslim, a jew? An Iraqi, an Ethopian and an Oregonian? Seek out those whose difference from you makes you a little squirmy.

6. Share a cup…of something
Once you’re around the table, what do you do there? You recognize, Ephsians says, that “each of us was given grace.” Strangers share cold drinks around a picnic table on a hot summer day. Grace. Around the world, including here in this building this morning, Christians share at the table of Christ. Grace.

5. Do the right thing.
Some people ask if the whole beer summit thing is just a big distraction for a media tired of Michael Jackson and health care. Some people scoff that 3 guys talking makes no difference. Some people say apologies are politically expedient. Forget about what some people say. Do the right thing.

4. Big things start small.
Look, three guys over beer is no big thing but look how one incident, and then one conversation has amplified the conversation about race in this country. One little conversation has started many more conversations, including this one here and now. Start somewhere. Start small

3. Don’t be afraid to go into broken places
Racism is still an unfortunate and ugly truth in our nation. We don’t like to to talk about it, because it makes us uncomfortable. As the church, however, we are charged to follow Christ -- who Ephesians says “descended into the lower parts of the earth” – into places where others are too uncomfortable, too fearful, or too angry to go.

2. Speak the truth in love
Sometimes you need to look another in the face and say something like the author of Ephesians: “We must no longer be children, tossed to and fro and blown about by every wind of doctrine, by people’s trickery, by their craftiness in deceitful scheming.” In other words, don’t be a fool. In other words…

(the number one thing that Christians can learn from the Beer Summit is....)

1. Grow up!
As we baptize a baby, we make promises about helping him grow in Christian faith – really we need to make those promises to ourselves first. Growing up means all the other 9 – taking responsibility, honoring diversity, seeking unity, gathering at the table, sharing the cup, doing good in the face of opposition, starting small, going there (wherever THERE might be, speaking the truth in love. Brothers and sisters, if you hear nothing else today, it is my prayer that you hear these 2 words, that you hear them and that you live them as Christ’s disciples, spoken in love and with humility and patience, not with scorn – grow up. Amen.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

"Summer is like winter. Only hot."

The weather - or really the lack of weather - is one of the things I treasure most about living in the Pacific Northwest. But this year is kind of testing that love.

Last winter it was all putting chains on, taking chains off and shoveling for pretty much the whole month of December. Everyone talked about the weather all the time. And every foray out into the weather required special clothes.

Which is why, last night with that deep wisdom that comes right before sleep, I told J that I thought summer was like winter, only hot. By which I meant, all the extra work (in the this case moving fans around, watering plants - so much watering! - and constant adjusting of shades up and down), all the extra conversation (I felt like I was shouting into the phone all day yesterday with people who I worried might be at risk from overheating, "are you DRINKING enough WATER?"), and, of course, the what to wear question (keeping cool in 100 plus while looking more like a pastor than a beach bum is definitely a challenge).

The Book Of Face is all wondering if this year's climate weirding in the PNW is the sign that global warming has finally arrived for good and earnest. But I dont think so. I really believe in global warming. (Which you actually still have to say out loud and firmly in some circles.) But I would like to advise against making one hot week in summer proof of global warming (or climate weirding, as I've heard it more accurately called).

Climate weirding is big picture stuff - major weather patterns and global movements - not the small inconveniences of one hot week in one hot city. And when we say "I'm too hot, this must be the global warming theyve been talking about" I think we might give those anti-global-warming folks more fuel for their ridiculous flames.

So be hot, and be cranky about it if you must. Be incovenienced or annoyed or (in the case of one friend) delighted, like you're "in a cleansing spa sauna all. the. time." But remember this has been a few days, in one small part of the world. Because climate weirding is affecting all of us, for all time.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Dog Days - Monday Night Randomness

-Boy, it's hot.

-This is the most awesome summer I can remember in recent years. So far no one has pneumonia or a broken leg (coujeffgh), we are not moving, no one has a constant migraine (yeah, that'd be me), we dont have a newborn baby (I'm mean, I'm all for babies, but they do kind of cramp your maxin' and relaxin' summer style...) and we're not planning any big trips. We're going to the ocean for two nights, but other than that, we are just enjoying Portland in summer. Which is pretty enjoyable.

-But, it is pretty hot.

-Spent an afternoon at Portland Saturday Market. Best people watching EVER. And we got a cool tie-dye for E, so it was a day well spent.

-Went to Cooper Mountain. Humungous new park with lots of trails and an example of how you can get right into Nature without really leaving town. Portland reminds me of Duluth that way.

-Even the lessons we're learning this summer are the benign kind, not the hit-you-over-the-head kind: If you put 2 cherry pits in your garbage disposal, it will make a funny noise, so you should take them out. If you go to Home Depot at the cool end of a hot day and ask for 12 bags of mulch, everyone will rush to help you, since they get to be outside for that part. If you dont cut the dog's hair, pretty much all that will happen is that it will get longer, which is not so bad.

-Getting ready to do a wedding I am really looking forward to. Since it's Portland, the reception will be a bike polo game. I dont know what that is either, but I'm looking forward to finding out.

-Attended one hour of our 9 hour neighborhood party. During that hour, got asked the question I have actually never been asked for real, in person by the octogenarian who had just told me that he married his wife even though she wasnt as built (I believe was his term) as her twin sister:
Him: "Have you been born again?"
Then, me: "Oh, I think I'm born again every day. Every morning my prayer is, Jesus, let me know what you have for me to do today."
Then, him: "Well, that's a weird way to do it."
Then, me: "Well, I suppose so, but it's what works for me."

-This was not as adverserial as it probably looks in print. In fact, I'm pretty sure we're still pals. And he DID say he prayed for us every day as he walks by the house, and I'll take all of those I can get.

-We will not be going to Lebowskifest tomorrow. (In fact, I'm not even linking to it, since there is a stripper on the front page. But you can google it if you really want to find it.) So, anyway, we're not going, even though Jeff had this great idea of going as The Big Lebowski in a suit and a bald cap. And I could choose if I wanted to be Bunny or Brandt. Anyway, great idea, but we're not going. Still, when I went to get my nails done today, I picked up the green polish, put it down, picked it up again, put it down again. Picked my usual orange-ish.

-By usual, I mean, the once or twice a year that I actually go to get my nails done.

-So, good summer.

-Although. Have I mentioned? Sure is hot.