Friday, December 24, 2010

#reverb10: Assurance

Prompt: Everything's OK. What was the best moment that could serve as proof that everything is going to be alright? And how will you incorporate that discovery into the year ahead?

This is a hard one for me as I live in the tension between faith and uncertainty and anxiety and hope. We've had moments this fall where we experience a tentative calm, but not often.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

#reverb10: New Name

Prompt: New name. Let's meet again, for the first time. If you could introduce yourself to strangers by another name for just one day, what would it be and why?

I've got nothing on this one. I really like my name...all of it.
My mom named me Jennifer because she liked the named and knew no one with it. These were in the days before "Love Story" made Jennifer a very popular name.

I was named Jennifer Louise, but I kept my surname after DH and I were married because it was my name and I had established myself professionally, and I like my name.

DH and I were married in the days when hyphens were a popular way to celebrate new relationships. I felt just fine about being a three named person.

So that's why it's just fine with me to say, "Hi. I'm Jennifer Burns Lewis."

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

#reverb10: travel

Prompt: Travel. How did you travel in 2010? How and/or where would you like to travel next year?

Last summer, we packed up a large SUV and our four plus FBC's significant other traveled to Colorado, where we picked up my dad and met 45 folks from the church I serve at a lovely retreat center in Colorado Springs. We drove across the flatness of the Midwest and thought Nebraska would never end. We encounter the biggest black flies everywhere in Nebraska. For fun, we traveled with my colleague and his family, carrying walkie talkies in the car so that the teenagers in my SUV could point out trains and buffalo and other interesting sights to the six and four year old boys in the other car. We traveled well together and the time at family camp itself was wonderful. We really loved whitewater rafting and hiking and looking out every morning on deer as we gazed out at Pike's Peak.

Next summer, I'd like to travel back to Door County, Wisconsin, home of peace and quiet, in my mind, and, if possible, I'd love to travel back to Cape Cod and Cape May, former homes and vacation spots with oodles of memories.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

#reverb10: past and future self

Prompt: Future self. Imagine yourself five years from now. What advice would you give your current self for the year ahead? (Bonus: Write a note to yourself 10 years ago. What would you tell your younger self?)

We will be anticipating the year 2016. I hope I will be looking ahead with hope and calm, with grandchildren on the scene or on the horizon, with young adult children who are happy, healthy and whole and contributing to their communities in meaningful ways...and still making beautiful music. I hope DH and I are enjoying good health, work that brings fulfillment and that our lives contain laughter.

Ten years ago it was the end of the year 2000. We were living in a small town, and our children were very young. Life had a greater simplicity, although it was not without its scares and bumps. I think I would tell my younger self to embrace it all...that which was and that which is to come, because faith is real and hope is powerful and the love in my life is trustworthy.

Monday, December 20, 2010

#reverb10:Beyond Avoidance

December 20 – Beyond Avoidance What should you have done this year but didn’t because you were too scared, worried, unsure, busy or otherwise deterred from doing? (Bonus: Will you do it?) (Author: Jake Nickell)

I tend to address hard things, sooner or later, because addressing them is usually far less painful or onerous than fretting about them.

I was very anxious about pulling together my Lilly grant proposal, but working with a coach and tackling it piece by piece worked out well, despite the final answer from Lilly.

I have a quilt top that was a grand experiment that I really need to finish. I'm scared that it will look awful. Will I do it? Yes, most certainly, but not before Christmas....

Sunday, December 19, 2010

#reverb10- Healing

Prompt: Healing. What healed you this year? Was it sudden, or a drip-by-drip evolution? How would you like to be healed in 2011?

Healing happens for me with words, without words, with time, with appropriately timed smiles.

The healing I've experienced this year has been gradual-- I love the drip-dry image-- and is fragile, but reassuring.

I'd be grateful for the same kind of healing in 2011...for me and for all I know who struggle.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

#reverb10: Try

Prompt: Try. What do you want to try next year? Is there something you wanted to try in 2010? What happened when you did / didn't go for it?

I want to learn how to cross country ski. We have beautiful parks and forest preserves nearby and they're perfect cross country skiing places. I just need the gear...

I tried to be non-anxious in 2010. Epic fail.

Friday, December 17, 2010

#reverb2010: Learn Your Lessons Well

Prompt: Lesson learned. What was the best thing you learned about yourself this past year? And how will you apply that lesson going forward?

I like this prompt, because like so many of the others, it's a reminder of the importance of mindfulness.

I've learned that I'm more intuitive than I knew. I think that's good. I'm not sure.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

#reverb10- friendship

Prompt: Friendship. How has a friend changed you or your perspective on the world this year? Was this change gradual, or a sudden burst?

This one is so easy. Here's the background: DH and I were part of a group of five inseparable friends in seminary. We ate almost all of our meals together. We played together. We did not date each other, but stuck close like glue through all of the pitfalls and celebrations of our early twenties. When one of our hearts got stepped on, the rest were available for support and bad jokes and libations. I have no siblings, but these four people are mine, by adoption. Although friendship morphed into love and marriage between two of the five of us, the rest married wonderful people who are dear friends now as well.

This year, one of the five of us has accepted a brand new call and the lovely side benefit is that he's serving 30 minutes away from us, instead of a time zone and 600 miles away. While he's getting settled and considering housing options, he's staying with us, which pleases us no end. Being housemates once again after 30 years is a fun and funny thing. What I've learned from our friend is that there is something precious about dear friendships that endure over time. I'm experiencing a sense of "picking up where we left off," even though we are older, hopefully wiser, and grateful, grateful, grateful for the time with which we've been gifted.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

#reverb10: Appreciate and remember

December 14 – Appreciate
What’s the one thing you have come to appreciate most in the past year? How do you express gratitude for it? (Author: Victoria Klein)

I deeply appreciate the bottomless cup of love and support I receive from my DH. He is a rock and soft place. He is balanced and kind and just funny enough. He is hopeful and strong and practical. He is a gift to our family. I thank God for him. I hope I thank him enough.

December 15 – 5 Minutes
Imagine you will completely lose your memory of 2010 in five minutes. Set an alarm for five minutes and capture the things you most want to remember about 2010. (Author: Patti Digh)

My first inclination is to write that there are a lot of things I would like to forget about this year, but that is neither realistic nor wise, I suppose. With a little more thought, I'd say that I'd like to remember how much a fat puppy brought laughter back into our home, and I'd like to remember the cool morning air of La Foret, Colorado and the beautiful vistas all around. I'd like to remember how much fun it was whitewater rafting with family and church friends. I'd like to remember FBC's beautiful recital and FBC, SBC and FBC's true love singing at the French Market every Thursday this past summer. Their voices and instruments were blissful to hear. I'd like to remember how good it felt..and feels to have our great friend under our roof while he and his family search for a new home as they become established in a place very new to them. It is good.

Most of all, I'd like to remember what it felt like, once upon a time, to feel innocent, to be carefree, to have hope winning out over fear,to treasure peace.

Monday, December 13, 2010

#reverb 10: from ideas to action

Prompt: Action. When it comes to aspirations, its not about ideas. It's about making ideas happen. What's your next step?

I know that it's true that it takes action for ideas to bloom.
I don't know what my aspirations are for the coming year.
I want there to be peace in my loved ones' lives.
I am doing all that I know to support that desire.
Everything else would be peachy if peace and hope were real for them.
Everything else would be just fine.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

#reverb10 - at one with one's body

Prompt: Body integration. This year, when did you feel the most integrated with your body? Did you have a moment where there wasn't mind and body, but simply a cohesive YOU, alive and present?

Uh....never and no, that I can think of.

As I think about the year that's waning, I'm persuaded that lack of body/mind integration may be part of the reason this year has been so hard. On some level, I have faith that all matter of things will be well, but it seems I live in a steady state of tension and worry. I feel, almost all of the time, like I'm poised at the top of a very scary amusement park ride, and it's not very amusing.

This prompt reminds me that I would certainly like things to be different in the year to come.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

#reverb10: Out with the...

Prompt: 11 Things. What are 11 things your life doesn't need in 2011? How will you go about eliminating them? How will getting rid of these 11 things change your life?

Eleven things, huh? I can think of eleven circumstances I'd like to eliminate in 2011, or eleven diseases from which I'd like to rid the world, or eleven less than positive thoughts, but eleven things? This is going to take some thought. I guess that's the point of #reverb 10. I think I'm grateful...

1.The Hammond organ in our living room. A gift from the estate of a former church member, our FBC had taken organ lessons and the deceased thought the Hammond, in a beautiful maple cabinet, would be just the thing for her. FBC never really fell in love with it and so it's a pretty big dust gatherer these day.

2.The enormous number of counted cross stitch patterns I've collected over the years. It's ridiculous. I've moved on to other needlework and crafts, and would never have gotten to all of them in twenty lifetimes, even if I had continued to cross stitch every day of my life.

3.Out of date sweaters. Say no more.

4.Six years of quilting magazines I was gifted with by the sponsors of the books sale held at the church. Even a real quilter doesn't need all of these magazines.

5.My college yearbook. I don't really think I need it.

6.I really don't think I need 37 wine glasses in my china cabinet. (But maybe I do. See why I still have them?)

Maybe this prompt is about more than material things.
If so....I'm getting rid of this in 2011:

7.More weight. I'm doing very well in this department, but I can do even better.

8.Putting off learning to cross-country ski. This is the year. I see it coming...

9. Clutter. Mental clutter, physical clutter, you name it. I'm going to address clutter in 2011.

10.Lame excuses. I'm going to hold myself accountable for numbers 1-9. No lame excuses. They're going...

11.Negative self-talk. I'm too old for this. I'm going to discourage it in myself and others.

Image from here.

Friday, December 10, 2010

#reverb 10- Wisdom

December 10 – Wisdom Wisdom. What was the wisest decision you made this year, and how did it play out? (Author: Susannah Conway)

It was a wise decision to partner with Liz McGowen for coaching to prepare my sabbatical grant proposal. She quickly became a providential part of my network of support when the unbloggable parts of life grew and grew this fall. She's insightful, creative, a fabulous listener, a social worker, and just happened to know a lot about Marshall Rosenberg's Non-Violent Communication method at the very time I was seeking more information about NVC.

Although it was not a 2010 decision, it has become increasingly clear that it was wise to accept the call to serve here. We sensed, and learn every day, what a generous, thoughtful, hospitable congregation it is. We knew we were coming to a community with good schools. We learned several years ago that the opportunities for music education were really wonderful. This year, we've been surrounded with all sorts of right people, from Session members to medical professionals, to music teachers, to kind neighbors. Reminded daily that it takes a village to raise a child, it also takes a village to accomplish/survive/navigate and perhaps even thrive.

The Wisdom of the Hummingbird from here.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

#reverb10: party

Prompt: Party. What social gathering rocked your socks off in 2010? Describe the people, music, food, drink, clothes, shenanigans.

Most of the parties I attended this year have been quiet celebrations-- a friend's 65th birthday, another's cancer-free celebration. It pleases me to have a wide variety of friends, folks of various ages and stages in life. Our godsons turned six and three this year, and their birthday parties were great, giggling occasions. Our children turned sixteen and twenty-one this year, but neither had a raucous bash. From train cakes to great wine and cheese, it's been a nice year of celebrations in between the tough stuff.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

#reverb10- Beautifully Different

December 8 – Beautifully Different. Think about what makes you different and what you do that lights people up. Reflect on all the things that make you different – you’ll find they’re what make you beautiful. (Author: Karen Walrond)

This is a difficult reflection for me to consider. I do not think that I'm particularly different. When I was ordained in 1983, it was less usual for women to be ordained to ministry, and I was one of the youngest persons to be ordained to the ministry of Word and Sacrament earlier on the very day that the former UPCUSA and PCUS denominations voted to reunite and become the PCUSA. At 23, being a Presbyterian clergywoman made me different.

Once upon a time, as half of a clergy couple, as co-pastors, I was different, but the world is filled with people like us now. I was the first woman pastor in several settings in which I served, and am the first woman head of staff pastor at the church at which I currently serve. However, I'm about to begin my eighth year here and I don't think folks think "different" when they think of me.

I'm freakishly afraid of bats, however. Does that make me different?

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

#reverb 10- Community

December 7 – Community. Where have you discovered community, online or otherwise, in 2010? What community would you like to join, create or more deeply connect with in 2011? (Author: Cali Harris)

Certainly, RevGalBlogPals has provided me with some very special connections and a warm sense of community among clergywomen and friends. I participated in an e-course through Abbey of the Arts this fall, and I think it might have given birth to a new sense of community with the other participants, but it came during the tumultuous fall of 2010, and I didn't avail myself of it.

I've found Twitter to be a great connecting point, 'tho mostly with people with whom I already have a connection. The great exceptions are two amazing resources in Liz McGowen who served as my coach as I was preparing my sabbatical proposal and Heidi Fischbach whose Aardvark Essentials were a wonderful Christmas gift last year.

I have resisted signing up for Facebook, because there's only so much one can keep track of. I feel as though I would constantly suffer from Facebook fail if I signed up, because I don't scrapbook effectively, nor do I take good pictures, nor do I write good Christmas letters and all of those seem to be connected.

Instead, in 2011, I think I'd like to be a better friend IRL and connect with new friends and friends of long-standing. I want to pick up the phone more than I e-mail. I want to write more old-fashioned snail mail letters and notes. I want to meet for lunch or coffee and create and participate in community more deeply in these ways.

Monday, December 6, 2010

#reverb10- Starting now

I'm in for #reverb 10, but will be writing snippets just to catch up. I, too, need a practice i can learn to maintain. I hope this will be a good start.

December 1 – One Word. Encapsulate the year 2010 in one word. Explain why you’re choosing that word. Now, imagine it’s one year from today, what would you like the word to be that captures 2011 for you?
My word to describe this waning year is breathless. A lot of things caught me off guard this year and took my breath away, not in the romantic sense, but in the punched-in-the-gut sense. Early in January our brand new puppy, purchased as we moved through the grief of our old dog's sad death from cancer, was diagnosed with a heart murmur at 10 weeks. Heart surgery and recovery seemed to envelop last winter, and we have a healthy year old golden retriever to show for it all. It was an expensive deal, but totally worth it. The autumn of the year brought frightening and still unbloggable family events that continue to leave me breathless with fear and worry. A hard recovery from what I thought would be minor surgery added more tiredness and the sense of being unable to catch my emotional breath encompassed the last of November, along with a skin cancer diagnosis that I truly did not see coming.
T. S. Eliot wrote of the center not holding. Without being able to catch my breath, my center has felt oxygen deprived. I hope that 2011 holds great hope and the sense of being surprised by joy and breathless with wonder.

December 2 – Writing. What do you do each day that doesn’t contribute to your writing — and can you eliminate it?
I don't consider myself to be a very good writer. I don't know what it would take to silence that critic.

December 3 – Moment. Pick one moment during which you felt most alive this year. Describe it in vivid detail (texture, smells, voices, noises, colors).
I drove from Chicago to Bethesda, Maryland to surprise FBC at her final college choir concert. Seeing her face as I sat in the sanctuary shocked and then alight with pleasure as she spotted me was worth every minute of the trip. It was a great joy.

December 4 – Wonder. How did you cultivate a sense of wonder in your life this year?
We joined the local arboretum as members, which prompted weekly (and often more frequent) trips for walks in the woods and gardens. Witnessing nature changing summer clothes for fall attire was pretty awesome.

December 5 – Let Go. What (or whom) did you let go of this year? Why?
Because of the trauma in our family, I have completely let go of my false sense of security and trust. I'm left feeling profoundly sad and worried, most of the time.

December 6 – Make. What was the last thing you made? What materials did you use? Is there something you want to make, but you need to clear some time for it?
It's too close to Christmas to talk about the very last thing that I made, but I'm very pleased with how much FBC likes the knitted cowl I made last month. It's a yellow-gold and has a reversible cable. It looks nice and she really likes it. Win.

Thinking woman image from here.