Saturday, February 28, 2009

Just an ordinary day....

This is a weekend of manageable things. Some short hospital visits, some needlework, some close attention to great, healthy meals. I'd like to get a good,long walk in,and do some organizing in the basement. The weather here is cold and not that inviting for outdoor pursuits. In the evening, DH and I are chaperoning SBC's high school dance.

I'm reading a silly book by Bill Bryson called The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid. it's a happy diversion in the midst heavy Lenten reading and study.

The discipline of WW is paying off well, with ten pounds gone. My friend Alison has also signed up and is positively inspiring. My goal this week is to track everything under the sun. I hadn't been tracking exercise, and doing so should be a good practice.

We're excited about a visit from my dad later on this week. We've not seen him since this summer. It will be great to have him here and to get ready for FBC's concert tour. We're able to see attend two of the concerts, in Indianapolis and Chicago Heights. Can't wait.

Photo from here.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Friday Forks

Singing Owl asks the Friday five question at Revgalblogpals:
What five people/events have been fork-in-the-road occasions? What a thought-provoker!

In no particular order.....

Feeling called to attend this seminary, rather than another. I received a wonderful education, but also met people from all over the world and several who became best friends for life.

2. Accepting a call to this church:
It was not my first call, but it was a watershed one for me, in that it was the first call where I felt my gifts made a critical difference in the life of the congregation.

3. Marriage...
I was busy pursuing adoption as a single person, with the blessing of the congregation I was serving when courtship and marriage arrived in my life like a snowstorm in August. Not at all what I was expecting, and certainly life-changing.
And, like the song from "Wicked", "Who can say I've been changed for the better? But because I knew you, I have been changed for good."

4. Upcoming fork in the road: job search for DH. What will it bring? What will it mean?

5. Eventual fork in the road: retirement location. We're fifteen years away, but nonetheless...where to? What to do?

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Old School

We've had a flurry of difficulties with e-mail and access to the Internet at work of late. On some days we can receive but not send e-mail. On other days we can send but not receive e-mail. We realize how incredibly dependent we are on e-mail at times like these. And although it's time consuming to make individual phone calls when an e-mail to a group would take no time at all, it is a good thing to be old school and have the benefit of a live conversation, complete with intonation. It's a good thing.

I'm not ready to give up e-mail for Lent, but the slower process of phoning has provided a nice spiritual practice on this day that Lent begins.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Friday Five: Break Time!

Songbird lives where it's winter break time. So she asks, "Tell us how you would spend:

1. a 15 minute break
2. an afternoon off
3. an unexpected free day
4. a week's vacation
5. a sabbatical"

This is not hard.
1. A 15 minute break would include a book in hand and a mug of coffee or tea close by. Right now I'm reading Brueggeman's The World Militant. Or I might check my friends' blogs. Either way, the time would go quickly.

2. An afternoon off might find me fabric shopping (That's a real, live store!) or playing with fabric or walking.

3.An unexpected free day? I'd be here.
4. A week's vacation? Easy.
5. A sabbatical? Reading, writing, touring and investigating art in worship spaces, like this.

Coffee cup poster from here.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Earth Gospel: A Guide to Prayer for God's Creation

My good friend Sam Hamilton-Poore has written a lovely book that offers a guide to prayer,meditation with scripture and reflections for four weeks--seven days per week with prayers for morning, midday, and evening.

This small volume is packed with great help and great insights from many such as Sallie McFague, Anne Rowthorn, some mystical writers, Mary Oliver and the author/editor.

I'm proposing that our Leadership and Ministries team, and perhaps our Session, too, use it as a guide during the second quarter of this year. Our stewardship year is divided into quarters, focusing on time and talents from January-March, our environmental covenant (April-June), observing Sabbath (July-September) and our fall financial campaign (October-December.)

I think we'll be the better for our shared attention to prayer and God's creation.

Friday, February 13, 2009

I remember

The Friday Five invites us to pay tribute to our most memorable pets... so, here goes!

I regret not having photos of these pets to share with you. I will try to do them justice with descriptive language.

1. Our current patriarch is Chase, our 11 year old golden retriever. He is a good dog, though late in maturing. He is a dark golden, lovable, playful, not especially bright, but makes up for lack of acuity with a large, pettable head. These days, he sleeps more than he cavorts, but still has spunk.

2. Prior to Chase, there was Padzie, a golden retriever I picked from the litter before DH and I were married or engaged or even dating. Good friends help each other pick out dogs. Padzie was so smart and fun and taught our daughter how to walk, by standing beside her when she was a toddler and allowing her to use him as a walker/toy/guide. Padzie (which was DH's nickname in college and means "pal" or "buddy") was a gem. He left us too soon, because of illness.

3. We've had pets other than dogs, but we're dog people, and that's that. John the Hamster was a Christmas gift to our daughter when she was six. We were the go-to family for keeping the classroom guinea pig over holidays, so we thought we would do well to have our very own rodent. (Honestly, I thought we'd do fine. DH, sage that he is, thought otherwise. "No rodents! No guinea pigs with clawed feet! No! No!") But John the Hamster came to abide with us for a season. His nocturnal tendencies were just too much for some of us, combined with his nasty habit of chewing through plastic and unlatching his cage and running loose in the laundry room. One day, John was gone. I cannot tell you anymore, because I am in the witness protection program.
We had a guinea pig named Pinky that proved to be almost less lovable than John the Hamster. These are not happy memories. Back to dogs.

4. My first dog after seminary and on my own as an adult was Jefferson, known to the college campus where I was the chaplain, as Jeff. Jeff was all black, a mixed breed combination of beagle and black Labrador. He was a very good boy. I loved Jeff and, when I left the college where I served as a chaplain/faculty member, I was given a golden retriever named Simon. Jeff, Simon and I made a great trio until DH and I married. There's another story, too sad to blog.

5. Growing up, the sweetest mutt (a collie/shepherd mix) was ours in Raggil (Scottish for rascal). I think our first pets are very important and formative. Raggil was a sweet, sweet dog.

Nice to remember....

photo of someone's good dog.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Friday Five Favorite Things

Songbird offers the following lovely challenge:

"In a week of wondering how various things in our family life will unfold, I found myself thinking of the way Maria comforted the Von Trapp children in one of my favorite movies. Frightened by a thunder storm, the children descend upon her, and she sings to them about her favorite things, taking their minds off the storm.

So, let's encourage ourselves. Share with us five of your favorite things. Use words or pictures, whatever expresses it best."

Perfect timing!
It's been a difficult week...

Favorite thing #1:The scent of a freshly peeled/cut grapefruit

Favorite thing #2:Finishing a wonderful book.

Favorite thing #3:John Rutter's Magnificat, particularly et misericordia

Favorite thing #4: Golden retriever puppy fur.Anything about a golden retriever.

Favorite thing #5: Earl Grey tea, with just a splash of milk.

Thursday, February 5, 2009


Here's a tiny tribute to a fine person.

DH is a great guy. We met during the first week of seminary, twenty nine years ago and we became fast friends, through we never dated during our seminary years. We were part of a group of six inseparable pals who studied together, ate every meal together, supported one another as our hearts were broken and celebrated as they began to mend.

All six of us went our separate ways after graduation,DH to serve three small Presbyterian churches in Maine, and I to serve as a college chaplain and a member of the faculty at what was then a small Presbyterian women's college. Our other friends were everywhere from Fresno to Philadelphia and other places, too, but that was back in the days of inexpensive flights, and as six single young adults, we were an extension of each other's families. We were present for ordinations, family funerals, and often New Year's eves. It was a little like "The Big Chill" without the controlled substances.

A few years went by and there we were, officiating or standing up with one another at each other's weddings. Later it would be time to baptize each others' babies.

Five years out of seminary, I was invited to preach the charge at DH's installation at his second call at a Presbyterian church by the sea in New Jersey. His family was there, and a lot of our friends from seminary. It was a glorious weekend. He called me a few days later and made a small romantic profession. I thought it would be a good idea if we dated, since we never had dated each other. It was a sweet and memorable courtship, with a postcard from him every day between October and December and an almost daily phone call after 11:00 p.m., when the rates changed.

We were engaged by Christmas.

Two children and two golden retrievers later,twenty-one years have passed and we are still best friends. We've served the Church separately and together as co-pastors, but for the past five and a half years, I've been a head of staff at a multi-staff church in the suburbs, and DH had been on the development staff of a church-related institution of graduate learning...until two weeks ago, when both my DH and his colleague's positions were eliminated as part of a much larger plan to address the economic distress of their institution.

Times are tough for nearly everybody. I know that. Many members of the upper middle class congregation I serve have been directly affected by layoffs and cutbacks. It doesn't matter if one works for a bank or for a seminary; the economic crisis is real.

My dear spouse is one resilient guy. He has gifts and talents for ministry that far exceed my own. He's a delightful and careful preacher, an authentic and loving pastor, and ironically, one hell of a fundraiser. The problems are greater than one person can address. As a family, our needs are being met and DH will take this time to discern what's next for him vocationally. Will he return to parish ministry? Will he take the plunge again with development work? Will he teach? I'm fully supportive of DH choosing carefully-- because it's not a job; it's his vocation, and it's important to feel fulfilled in one's calling. I'm thankful that we have the luxury of time and resources to give him space to discern what's next.

So many prayers for so many people this day. So many prayers.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

practicing what we preach...

This is, certainly, the winter of our discontent.

This week alone, we have an endless flurry of hospitalized members with unanticipated illnesses and conditions.

A church member's mother was found dead in her home yesterday.

DH's position at work was eliminated ten days ago....the economy, you know.

Every single day we learn of others similarly affected in all sorts of business and industry, corporations and not-for-profits.

The number of persons seeking assistance from the church is growing.

These are hard days, to be sure, but it seems pretty clear that the journey is tempered by having some spiritual practices in place. Prayer and meditation and a faith community in which to abide have certainly made a difference in my own life at this time.

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