Monday, February 28, 2005

Unwelcome News

I received some unwelcome news this afternoon. In January my senior pastor agreed to introduce me the the Board of Ordained Ministry in lieu of my actual mentor. My mentor is teaching class on Wednesdays and will not be able to attend. I go in front of the board *not* a 22 year old, unattached male. I am older, female and come with a husband and 2 children. This is a strike against me in my conference. Now I will not have anyone to go with me to this meeting -- an occurance that happens in about one of ten candidates. The mentor is to introduce the candidate, to speak on their strengths and weaknesses and to act as the candidate's advocate. Now I will be going alone. I will be OK, however I am more than just irritated. P (my senior pastor) is a good friend, but.... he did not put an important meeting in his calendar. This other meeting involves the Bishop and several District Superintendants. The Board of Ordained Ministry will only meet this one time this Spring. I cannot reschedule -- it's not in my hands. I cannot tell you how irritated I am. My future scholarships depend on this meeting going well.

Now for the tape in the back of my head -- you know the tape.
The one that has been programmed by you past experiences, your relationships with your parents, your early childhood experiences. You think you have erased the tapes and reprogrammed, but sometimes the old music bleeds through. I cannot help but think that P choose the other meeting because it will further his career more that the meeting that means so much to me. He is the chair of this committee for the Bishop -- he would lose much "face" if he cancels or reschedules. And true, the logistics would be overwhelming. I am angry that he did not check his calendar and that he lacks those organizational skills. But (and remember, this comes from my programming from childhood) what should you expect from men? They make promises and then fall through. They choose their own advancement over personal relationships. They abandon you. What do you expect? You always had to find your own way, without help, why should this be different? Now don't those statements speak a world about me? Ha!

Questions, Questions

Michael at Blogin Idiot
1. What would be your dream job?
2. What is your definition of faith?
3. What are the events in your life that have defined you?
4. Who is the person in your life you have always wanted to impress?
5. Why?

Kathryn at Good in Parts
1. Why only good in parts? What parts?
2. What is your favorite part of worship?
3. What is the hard part for you about being a woman in ministry?
4. Tell us about your kids, in general or in specific.
5. Dogs or cats?

e.s. at The Examined Life
1. How would you describe your faith walk?
2. What do you fear?
3. What do you feel is the heart of a teacher?
4. What is your favorite book of all time?
5. What gives you joy?

Blogger would not take my URL's above. I wonder sometimes how much traffice the site really gets. There are times that the service seems really spotty. Of course, it's worth every penny I pay for it. =o)

I am contemplating (not for the first time) about general busy-ness. (Did you every notice how close the word "busy-ness" and business are? Interesting.)

What does it say about my image of God that I cram all I can into life? What does it say about humans in general? What does is say about the relationship between humans and God that we cannot abide sitting still? Since my dear husband hurt his back, my plate has overflowed. An admission -- my Christmas nativities are still out. I tend to leave them out until way after Christmas -- after Ephipany and until Lent. Well, it has been Lent for a few weeks now (2 and a half). They are still out because I have not had time to pack them. I could whine about the Laundry and the Dishes and the Mopping and the Bathrooms and the Vacuuming and the.... (fill in the blank) but verily, verily I saith unto thee, the housework will always be with you. I can whine about the sheer amount of paper that I have due in the next few weeks, about the 3 sermons that I haven't begun to write, the ordination papers, the worship dramas, the exegesis papers. That too, is a given. I could whine about the things that need to be repaired -- my bumper is hanging off my car, missing hubcap, new scrape down the side of the other car, broken glass in my stained glass front door, burnt out light bulbs, broken doorknob, broken house keys. I could complain about the bills and taxes and other general paperwork for our finances that needs to be done (I received a new statement on how much I owe on student loans -- OUCH).

But the biggie -- what I have "given up" is my quiet time. I know that is not the trendy phrase -- people not talk about it in different terms, however I like the term "quiet time." It's when my soul is stilled and comforted and the voices that compete for my time become quiet. I am not centered right now -- there is no balance in my life. Hmmm... I am going to dwell in that right now and try to become centered -- I am going to go back to those spiritual disciplines that have sustained me in the past. I am not going to dwell in the fact that there is so much "work" that needs be done and try to dwell for a moment in not "work" time, but "God" time. How easy it is for us to slip out of that discipline! (Man, will *that* preach, or what?!)

Thought for the day -- we all have been given grace. It is a gift from God that cannot be earned or deserved. However, there is a grace that can be found from discipline. Daily disciplines -- prayer, study of the scripture, fasting, acts of piety and mercy, worship, fellowship, communion of the saints, Lord's supper -- John Wesley saw each and every one of these as means of grace. Disciples help us become grace-filled people. How can I become a means of God's grace, if I do not dwell in that grace myself?

So excuse me now, I have an appointment with grace.

Sunday, February 27, 2005

Stayed out too Late

last night. Went to play downtown, took an hour and a half to get home. Saw a group of college students in full formal wear carrying sculling oars down Peachtree at Midnight. Along with old men in plaid tuxedos, intermingled with the poets and prostitutes. Big crowds outside all the clubs -- even the burrito places. Play was not superior -- bad staging, predictiable archetypes, over acting for the younger couple in play. Not worth $25 a ticket (not that I paid that, mind you.)

Haven't written a pastoral prayer, my drama this morning has not been rehearsed. Overslept, and what am I doing? Checking email and blogging.


Saturday, February 26, 2005

And now...

for something completely different --
My husband and I have never really had to buy furniture. Most of what we have, we inherited. Cast offs from friends and family -- some of it Salvation Army Rejects (it's really bad when the Salvation Army won't pick it up.) Anyway, we got a Lazy-Boy recliner when we got married -- 18 years ago. My husband's grandmother said it was "brand new" -- we found the tag on the bottom dated 1970. Well the old recliner is really getting worn out from daily use (when she was little Entropy thought we were saying "Lazy Butt" chair, heh.) I need to go find/purchase a new chair. Too much looking at HGTV has caused me now to reflect "well, what kind and color?" Probably a really shallow question, but why not take a little time and energy to pick a good one -- knowing my husband and his tendencies, we'll have it for 30 years.

So what color and style? My living room has light gold walls (the color was called "Cookie Dough"), white trim, lots and lots of books, a Wedgewood Blue Oriental (for wedding presents, I got two of them from two different people -- and no blenders (which was the gift of the year)), two "Martha Washington" chairs in a Burgundy/Rose (that really don't match anything (but were bought off the set of "I'll Fly Away" staring Sam Waterston)), a Martha Washington in Blue/Green Tapestry, a Navy Leather couch, various small tables in a variety of styles (Queen Anne, Chippendale ripoffs, two real Stickley Mission tables, 2 medal case turned table -- one filled with rocks, one filled with feathers), a Duncan Fyfe 1940's copy buffet, which has antique radio, telephone turned lamp and Apothacary's case with stuff in it), lots of framed things on the walls. It's a really "busy" room, so I was thinking a solid color. But what color? the current chair is brown. Fits in well, but boring. So it should be either Navy, Wedgewood blue, burgundy or gold. I'm stuck. I'd post a picture, but the room is really, really messy right now.

I really like this, but will it be comfortable as the old chair -- lots of hard wood on this baby. But it would fit in well. Especially with navy leather.

In navy leather, this would exactly match my leather sofa -- and it comes with the "airspa" features -- heat and massage (mmmm...yeah), but the style is boring. And that much blue leather would be .... boring.

And I really like this one. The style is really nice. I love the club-chair look and this one looks like it would last 30 year. Hmmm... decisions, decisions. The final choice is to fetch the antique Morris Chair out of storage and spend the money and have it restored. But I don't know what it really looks like under all the upholstery.

Friday, February 25, 2005

The Interview Me Game

Interview Me!

This is a blog game. I found it on Fish's site.
Here's how it works:

I answer the questions from my 'interview' here. Fish gave me the questions. Then if you want to play you do this:

1. The first five commenters to type INTERVIEW ME in the comments.

2. I will respond by asking you five questions (not the same as you see here).

3. You will update your blog/site with the answers to the questions.

4. You will include this explanation and an offer to interview someone else in the same post.

5. When others comment asking to be interviewed, you will ask them five questions.

OK.. Here are the answers and questions from My Interview.

1.What is one of your most irrational phobias/fears? How did you know? I have three that I get teased about all the time by the family. First, I am scared of alligators. When we were on Sapelo Island, staying in the RJR mansion, we got the “Carter Room.” Really nice, full sized French Doors all around, billowing curtains in the wind, went straight out to the lawn. Wonderful. Except first there was no central air conditioning and it was hot. So the doors were always open. Second there is a nice big pond with lots of alligators just a few (hundred!) feet away. I didn’t sleep. Any. At all. I was too afraid of the alligators creeping into the house.
Then there is the “burning the house down with the curling iron” problem. Almost every day, I call home after I leave to make sure that I unplugged the curling iron. I always have, I just worry. And the new curling iron shuts itself off automatically. If we go somewhere as a family, either my husband will pack it in the car, or he will go make sure that it is unplugged right before we leave.
Then there is the “did you lock the doors?” thing. Every night, I check all the doors, just in case. I check a few times in the day, as well. This one is not as irrational, as my family tends to never close the door much less lock it. And the stupid doors don’t fit right, so they blow open with very little wind. So this is not as irrational, just compulsive.

2.How do you spend your 'you' time that you get- no work, no worries, just time for you, or if you don't feel you get 'you' time, how would you spend it if you did ideally? I spend time everyday thinking. Sounds lame, huh? But I need my thinking time. The days that the kids are at school/camp/whatever and my husband at work, I spend time snoozing in bed or in the recliner thinking. I then set down my thoughts on paper or on the computer. I love to spend time just as I get up out of bed thinking. I also will paint watercolors and design stained glass or embroideries.

3. Would you ever Bungee jump? Most definitely.

4.If you could spend an afternoon with someone from your past who would it be and how would you spend the afternoon? Probably my parents. General visitin’ and catching up. Also my minister from when I was in college. I would also make my mother look at all the boxes and boxes of unlabeled family photographs and tell me who they are. I would also talk about love and forgiveness and grace with them. I would really like to tell them that I love them, one more time.

5. Are politics important to you and if so in what way do they incorporate into your day to day life and work? The general answer is “no, of course not” and then I end up arguing about social justice all afternoon….. So yes, they are, but no, they aren’t. I look at individuals, not parties. I look at issues and not platforms. Civil liberties and not social programs. I am very concerned with civil liberties and that is probably why I test out as a “Liberatarian” on all these silly online quizzes (that I am addicted to.) For instance, I think that we have the right to bear arms – it is one of my civil liberties that I believe is important (with the proper registrations). This stance would tend to place me as a “conservative.” However, some of my beliefs would place me in the “liberal” camp. I have a finely tuned opinion about abortion – that in the first trimester, a woman should have the right to abort if 1) it is not being used as a birth control method 2) the fetus is a result of incest or rape 3) the fetus will place the mother at severe risk of disease or death 4) other circumstances that will be considered on an individual basis. However, I cannot support an abortion after the first trimester. This position is considered “liberal” by most of my conservative friends. I tend to look at legislation and judge if they are showing justice and if they are ethical rather than if “my party” supports them. I believe that the divisiveness of our two party system is tearing America to bits. The latest political windmill I am tilting is the “marriage amendment” that the GA legislature passed through the voters of GA. Another rant, another time.

Looking for Peace

Something Big and Horrible has happened in our small community. Really Big and extremely Horrible. A member of the church has broken into the home of another (ex)member of the church, less than a block from the church building. Lots of high emotion, lots of hurt and pain. People lashing out and hurting other people – emails sent, gossip circles are going, phone-lines busy. People pushed to the limits, people arrested. However, this is all happening just under the surface – most of the people in the congregation are not and will not be aware of all this.

It all started a long time ago, with one man’s addiction to gambling – or even before that. One sin leading to another, a man embezzling his own children’s college fund, a man leaving his wife. A wife turning to another (married) man for comfort. Car accidents, death, cancer. People becoming embittered. Unfounded accusations, betrayals, anger. This last chapter is just a continuation of the story. Reconciliations have been attempted, but failed. Attempts to fill gaps with words have failed. People hanging onto hurt feelings instead of reaching out to each other. People striking out with violence instead of healing. In their very actions and word, destroying the integrity and dignity of the Body of Christ. Violence occurs when words fail – or when we deny the power of the Word. I long for reconciliation.

In the Greek, the work reconciliation mean to change places with the other, so much so that you will walk in their shoes, you will laugh their laughter, weep their tears, hold their dreams and feel their joy. But the cost of reconciliation is great. The story moves from hope to despair and back again.

Yes, violence is failed words. When words fail to bring reconciliation, when words and dialogue fail, violence is inevitable. And we pick up stones to throw at one another. We have to look forward to the resurrection that will come after the crucifixion. The day of resurrection will come and the heavy stones will be rolled away.

Looking for a piece of Peace today.

note: I now wish I could be more anonymous -- I have to obfuscate the names and actions of the people, in order to protect myself and the innocent.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Book 123 meme

1. Grab the nearest book.
2. Open the book to page 123.
3. Find the fifth sentence.
4. Post the text of the sentence in your journal along with these instructions.
5. Don't search around and look for the 'coolest' book you can find. Do what's actually next to you.

Could Miss Manners resolve a problem for a confused foriegner?
Without these concepts, however, you may find that your database applications neither meet your current needs nor adapt to meet any changing needs.
"A tall, thin chap around forty," Mason said.

(I reached around a three different books fell in my lap, hence three sentences. Wanna guess what they were?)

The ten things games
These are my ten things I've done that you may not have done:
(but maybe)

1. Belonged to the Civil Air Patrol and was training to fly Search and Rescue -- but had a baby instead.
2. Shook hands with President Carter and less than a week saw President Bush and the Centennial of Flight at Kitty Hawk last December (oh, yea and John Travolta -- Bush and Carter seemed more intelligent (probably a good thing)).
3. Had an office with a seismometer in the corner mounted on a pier that went straight to bedrock.
4. Glued (with superglue) a student's sneakers to the floor in my math class when he continued going to sleep. Funny. Heh heh heh.
5. Oh yeah, and the office was within 20 feet of an Apollo capsule, 3 spacesuits, a giant preying mantis model, a complete weather station, a planetarium and a very complete butterfly collection.
6. Drove over 100 mph on the bridge over Lake Pontchartrain after drinking several Hurricanes. (Young and foolish).
7. Had season tickets to theatre since I was around 8 years of age.
8. Could have been a deb.
9. Rubbed Desmond Tutu's head. (Ok, it was a statue -- but my friend who made it rubbed Bishop Tutu's head.)
10. Dated 3 of the Atlanta Falcons in the 1980's. (Once each. Big deal! I wasn't "blonde" enough.)

How about you?

BTW, this is an example of a non-spiritual discipline blog entry. Just in case you were confused.

Praying Mantis -- Blogging as a Spiritual Discipline

Praying Mantis writes on "The Spiritual Discipline of Blogging"

1. Pray for Insight on God and his people
2. Share insight with others
3. Read God's word and see what he is speaking to your heart
4. Share insight on the word with others
5. Pray for others based on what you are reading in their blog
6. Encourage others on other blogs
7. Be honest about needing prayer on your blog when appropriate
8. Dare to move beyond the blog - invite others you have met (when safe) to come minister with you
9. Share financially with others when you see needs on blogs
10. Blog as if unto God.

Beautiful! Journaling has long been a spiritual activity -- Blogging fits a different need/purpose, yet similar. More interactive. It can be an intentional habit in your prayer life or in your spiritual formation, it can aid with the interpretation of scripture, but unlike journaling, blogging is done in community. As a Methodist, I would even hazard saying it is a form of Christian conferencing. They are not private -- intentional vulnerablity can be exploited -- by both the reader and writer. They tend to be more ego based than journals (not necessarily a bad thing) -- personal journals tend to focus more on the acts of God in our lives. But they also can be a sort of accountability group -- and a way to check out the "is this crazy or what?" types of questions. They really do help chronicle a life lived in faith in a new and different way. I'm going to think about this more...

We are watching the movie "Luther" tonight

And as a fund raising activity, I thought about selling indulgences -- what do you think?

May our Lord Jesus Christ
have pity on thee, ___________________________ and absolve thee by the merits of his most holy passion! And I, in virtue of the apostolical power that has been confided to me, absolve thee from all ecclesiastical censures, judgments, and penalties which thou mayst have incurred; moreover, from all excesses, sins, and crimes that thou mayst have committed, however great and enormous they may be, and from whatsoever cause, were they even reserved for our most holy father the pope and for the apostolic see. I blot out all the stains of inability and all marks of infamy that thou mayst have drawn upon thyself on this occasion. I remit the penalties that thou shouldst have endured in purgatory. I restore thee anew to participation in the sacraments of the Church. I incorporate thee afresh in the communion of saints, and re-establish thee in the purity and innocence which thou hadst at thy baptism. So that in the hour of death, the gate by which sinners enter the place of torments and punishment shall be closed against thee, and, on the contrary, the gate leading to the paradise of joy shall be open. And if thou shouldst not die for long years, this grace will remain unalterable until thy last hour shall arrive.
In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. Amen

Personally, I had never really read one before. I have some major theological issues with this. I am goint to print this out, along with the 95 theses and see if I can spark a discussion. It's interesting to read this, as I exegete Joel 2.

I also had a personal encounter with repentance. Of course, it was not in casual conversation, but with my spiritual director. I have been seeing a spiritual director once a week for 8 years now. It is a priestly function that is not being done in the modern church, esp. in the protestant ones. It is priestly, prophetic and thereputic. I am wondering if true repentance is more akin to a psychotic break than a casual "I'm sorry." If you leave preconceived notions home when you read Paul's conversion, it really does sound more like a psycotic break. A total turn-around (shoob in the Hebrew).

an aside -- I had to go pick up Chaos this morning. She really did have a fever this time. Sigh.

How are these threads connected? I need to absolve myself from the guilt of being a bad mother. I need to absolve my parents from being bad parents. I need to forgive my father. Not that I haven't done it in the past -- all of us leave things behind and then pick them up again. Every time I let go, though, it becomes a more deliberate and intentional thing. I have my repentance scene, my conversion experience -- my life is turned around, life goes better and life is in balance. Then the world, my ego, the unexpected occurs and whamo! I'm out of balance and the old crap comes up again. I pick up the old burdens again, until I remember.

I remember the indulgances -- the absolution -- is available. My life can and will be turned around. I can forgive. I forgive myself. I forgive my parents. He forgives me. Absolution, forgiveness can't be purchased. It is a free gift -- one I need to take with my open, empty hands. It is one that I need to acknowledge everyday. Daily I crucify Christ and daily He rises from Death.

Prayer for Today

My prayer for today is to understand 11 year old girls. You would think it wouldn't be too hard -- after all I was an 11 year old girl at one time.

Chaos is having a hard time at school. Her teacher this year is a young man without much understanding of 11 year old girls, either. I wonder if he is having a hard time with discipline, as well. Chaos comes home half the time in tears, half the time angry. She didn't want to go to school today -- and I have decided that the stomach aches and headaches are not faked, but real -- as a result of stress. She's a straight A student, perfect conduct grades, member of the Beta Club, etc. but not coping well with her peers. And the teacher made the comment to me "I just don't know what to do about the mean girls in this class." This seems to be a systemic problem.

She is quiet, sensitive and an introvert. She is not likely to speak up for herself. (never really been my problem...easy for me to feel compassionate, but not easy to understand.)

I have contacted the counselors at the school and gently suggested that the teacher and the class needs some lessons on compassion and manners. I know that once they become defensive, it is hard for the lines of communication to remain open.
I have volunteered in the classroom quite a bit and know that her teacher is not the most organized person I have ever met -- nor the most understanding.

Everything in me right now is crying out for me to quit school and stay at home and home-school. However, as an educator, I realize that what Chaos need to learn cannot be found at home, but in a group of her peers -- she needs social skills, especially coping skills.

What to do.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

I'm Not Scary

You Are Not Scary

Not Scary!

Everyone loves you. Isn't that sweet?

Long Day

Long Day today. Classes, meetings, more meetings, more classes. Met with my ordination advisor today and discussed possible questions that can come up during the interview. Met with delegates from the West Virginia conference and let them talk to me about moving to rural West Virginia (interesting thought...) Met with the Dean of Students about a new publication to express the student voice. Our student newsletter/newspaper, which has been in continual publication for maybe 60 years until it went out of publication 18 months ago. I have been trying to re-incarnate it as an electronic, online daily. Lots of meetings, lots of words. Sigh.

So I took some online quizes thanks to Rev. Mike:

Your Brain is 73.33% Female, 26.67% Male

Your brain leans female
You think with your heart, not your head
Sweet and considerate, you are a giver
But you're tough enough not to let anyone take advantage of you!

My Inner Hero - Paladin!

I'm a Paladin!

I strive to help others, and to bring truth and harmony to the world however I can. Whether times are good or bad, you can always count on me. I'm a shoulder to cry on, a champion for the helpless, and an all around nice person.

How about you? Click here to find your own inner hero.

Monday, February 21, 2005

Even more misc

Just found out I have been invited to a "big event" at one of my friend's church this next Sunday (convenient for us ministerial types.) Emily and Don Saliers are "practicing" the stuff they are doing at the National Cathedral in May. Everyone who is anyone in the "theological community" is participating -- I was asked to go by the former HeadDude of the something something Reformed Church (who is married to a Really Big Biblical Scholar). BBT, Tom Long, Luke Timothy -- lots and lots of people are participating or endorsing or invited. And the theatre community is participating as well (lots and lots of friends will be there.) And I can't get out of worship this Sunday. Aarrgghh.

Back to the papers. Times Roman, 12 point font, one inch margins, double spaced. I am almost finished with the one for the Board of Ordained Ministry. If anyone would like to proof it for me, please email me at I would appreciate it. Especially those of you who read these types of papers as a matter of course.

Now for the drama, the paper about what I have learned about breathing in my breathing class and I don't remember what else. Oh boy. Joy, joy, oy.

also, I have determined I am a Centrist, politically. No, really. Check this. Somehow my results make me feel...lukewarm. Spew-able. (Rev 3:16).


I have been practicing Task Avoidance. In fact, I just ran the words "Task Avoidance" through my anagram generator and discovered that it anagrams to "A Vacation Desk." Interesting.

Anyway, task avoidance. I found out yesterday that the ordination papers I thought were due on March 19th are actually due March 9th. Oh dear. (Actually the reaction was "AACCKK!!") I have so much to do and so little time to do it in. Papers for class tomorrow, a sermon due the day after my ordination papers are due that counts for 25% of my grade (an it's an eschatological, end of the world passage from Joel -- not something I would have chosen for myself (in fact, the instructor had us write down the 5 passages we were the most uncomfortable preaching and chose two for us to preach (ack!))). Anyway, one paper tomorrow, one paper before break, a workshop in Blue Ridge with Fred Craddock on the 6th, ordination papers, an interview with the Board of Ordained Ministry, dramas for each of the Sundays in Lent, the Maundy Thursday drama, a 30 minute monologue for the Monday of Holy Week for me to deliver as Mary the Mother for the local clergy group, plan the Good Friday service, and misc. little one page papers due sprinkled around.

Instead of doing these things, I am writing about cats, the Enuma Elish and the Holiness Code. Huh. Major task avoidance.

an aside -- we have been putting Little Kitty in the Laundry room at night to cut down on the mess. She has been sleeping on the washer and dryer, knocking things off the shelf onto the washer and dryer in the middle of the night (What was that!! kind of sound) and of course, there is food, water and a litter box in the room. Does she use the litter box? No! She uses the dirty laundry. Ugh.

I am now going to write a paper on my perceived gifts and graces and contemplate and reflect on the sentence "Jesus is Lord" and how that has changed my life. Times Roman, 12 point font, one inch margins, Double Spaced. Yipee.

Sunday, February 20, 2005

Total Bible Geekdom

Total Geekdom alert:

In Genesis 1, the sun and moon are not specifically mentioned:

Gen 1:14 - 19
And God said, "Let there be lights in the firmament of the heavens to separate the day from the night; and let them be for signs and for seasons and for days and years,and let them be lights in the firmament of the heavens to give light upon the earth." And it was so. And God made the two great lights, the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night; he made the stars also. And God set them in the firmament of the heavens to give light upon the earth, to rule over the day and over the night, and to separate the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good. And there was evening and there was morning, a fourth day.

Note here just the words "greater light" and "lesser light." Not "sun" and "moon."

In the Hebrew Bible, the word shemesh is Hebrew for "sun." Elsewhere the word is Hebrew SHAMESH = South Arabic SHFSH = Ugaritic SHPSH which is pronounced Shapshu. Shapshu is the Caananite sun goddess.

In the Hebrew Bible, the word yareach is Hebrew for "moon." The word undergoes then same type shifts as above and becomes the Caananite word Yarikh who is the moon god. These are the same people who worshiped El (god), his consort Asherah and their son Ba'al. These words are also in the Bible, and are usually not translated.

In order to distinguish themselves totally from the Caananites, the Apiru (Hebrew) people (the nation of Israel) did not use the words "sun" and "moon" in Genesis 1. They wanted to avoid any hint of the Caananite religion and shunned the use of these words in their Creation hymn.

There are other instances of the writer of Genesis being aware of other culture's deities -- the word tehom is related to the Babylonian word for "sea" which is tiamat -- the name of the Babylonian Goddess from whose dead body the world is said to have been created. There is tremendous debate about if the Babylonian myth influenced the Bible or the Bible informed the Babylonian myth. Nonetheless, it is obvious that they are somehow in conversation.

It is interesting to note these influences. Reguardless if you are a Creationist or a Liberal or an Orthodox or an Neo-orthodox or Agnostic or whatever, the message seems to be clear in Genesis 1 -- by avoiding the names of Caananite gods, we are affirming that our God is in control, that our God had order and purpose in mind. Unlike the Babylonian myth in the Enuma Elish, where the world is created out of the split body of Tiamat and mankind is created accidentally from spilled blood, God tells us in the Bible that He lovingly created the Universe by His Word, speaking the world into creation and that He formed us delibrately, lovingly and in His image -- with tremendous expectations, breathing His spirit into us.

Household Principles for Children

Household Principles for Children from the Old Testament
Lamentations of the Father.
1997 Ian Frazier and The Atlantic Monthly

Laws of Forbidden Places

Of the beasts of the field, and of the fishes of the sea, and of all foods that are acceptable in my sight you may eat, but not in the living room. Of the hoofed animals, broiled or ground into burgers, you may eat, but not in the living room. Of the cloven-hoofed animal, plain or with cheese, you may eat, but not in the living room. Of the cereal grains, of the corn and of the wheat and of the oats, and of all the cereals that are of bright color and unknown provenance you may eat, but not in the living room. Of quiescently frozen dessert and of all frozen after-meal treats you may eat, but absolutely not in the living room.

Of the juices and other beverages, yes, even of those in sippy-cups, you may drink, but not in the living room, neither may you carry such therein. Indeed, when you reach the place where the living room carpet begins, of any food or beverage there you may not eat, neither may you drink. But if you are sick, and are lying down and watching something, then may you eat in the living room.


Various Other Laws, Statutes, and Ordinances

Leave the cat alone, for what has the cat done, that you should so afflict it with tape? And hum not the humming in your nose as I read, nor stand between the light and the book.Indeed, you will drive me to madness. Nor forget what I said about the tape.

Bite not, lest you be cast into quiet time.Neither drink of your own bath water, nor of the bath water of any kind; nor rub your feet on bread, even if it be in the package; nor rub yourself against cars, not against any building; nor eat sand.

Complete article here.

an aside -- m2 -- good observations on Leviticus. Leviticus 19 is the portion included in the Lectionary and it is the best part. It's the portion most frequently quoted in the NT -- Jesus quoted it several times or alluded to it. It starts with "Be holy, as I thy God am holy" and then recounts the 10 commandments, with some interpretation. It goes on "You shall do no injustice in judgment; you shall not be partial to the poor or defer to the great, but in righteousness shall you judge your neighbor. You shall not go up and down as a slanderer among your people, and you shall not stand forth against the life of your neighbor: I am the LORD. You shall not hate your brother in your heart, but you shall reason with your neighbor, lest you bear sin because of him. You shall not take vengeance or bear any grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the LORD." The rest of the Law hinges on this Holiness Code -- violate this and you violate the Law. Fulfill this and you fulfill the Law -- as Jesus did. It's an interesting reading to use to show how Christians can get overly committed to our rules and still not love our neighbor as we love ourselves. Running to the next Bible Study -- Later.

Just a Little Funny

Captain's Blog, Stardate 02202005...

Cartoon here.

Heh heh heh...he he he he.

BTW, I'm not feeling deep and theological today -- I am irritated that UPN canceled Enterprise. Will this be the end of Star Trek, as we know it? Shall I begin the Klingon Death Dirge? Woe is me.

Yep, not theological at all. I have 5 hours of Bible Study left to go today and the theological batteries are all burned out. Sigh.

an aside -- we had a prayer and self-denial breakfast and lunch today -- with 3 worship services and Sunday School in between. There were 15 desserts at the prayer and self-denial lunch. Does anyone else see a problem with this, or is it just me??

Saturday, February 19, 2005

Arrr! What's your Pirate Name?

My pirate name is:

Captain Bess Flint

Even though there's no legal rank on a pirate ship, everyone recognizes you're the one in charge. Like the rock flint, you're hard and sharp. But, also like flint, you're easily chipped, and sparky. Arr!

Get your own pirate name from


About Cats -- I think that they are not in the Bible because 1) they are unclean according to the Law, even if not mentioned specifically.

Lev 28:26-29 "And whatsoever goeth upon his paws, among all manner of beasts that go on [all] four, those [are] unclean unto you: whoso toucheth their carcase shall be unclean until the even. And he that beareth the carcase of them shall wash his clothes, and be unclean until the even: they [are] unclean unto you. These also [shall be] unclean unto you among the creeping things that creep upon the earth; the weasel, and the mouse, and the tortoise after his kind, And the ferret, and the chameleon, and the lizard, and the snail, and the mole."

2) Just as the "sun" and "moon" are not mentioned in Genesis 1 because of the Babylonian Cultic Traditions, perhaps domestic cats are not mention because of the Egyptian Cultic Traditions.

Lions, however are mention 98 times, and are portrayed as a "kingly" symbol in the Hebrew Scriptures.

Little Kitty is more of a lion, anyway. She's always a lyin' around the house. =o)

another aside -- only the Holiness code from Leviticus 19 is ever used in the Lectionary, and then only in Year A and only in a Year A that has 7 weeks. Maybe read only once in 12 years. Once. Now I know Leviticus is not comfortable stuff, but don't we need to at least talk about it occasionally? It is boring in places, but also sometimes facinating. Even if it is read over and against Paul, shouldn't it be read?

And Little Kitty* goes every other week to the Vet. Special Kidney diet, constant sources of fresh water, a clean litter box on every floor of the house. She had a prognosis of 6 months to live 9 months ago. But she's still pretty healthy. At one time we had 4 elderly cats -- ages from 14 to 18 years of age. I felt like I was running a feline nursing home. Reverend Mommy's home for Geriatric Cats.

*I just typed her name initally as Litter Kitty, heh.

Friday, February 18, 2005

The Mommy is Not Happy

The little kitty (our last kitty) has a bad kidney/bladder problem. Old age, bad diet, you name it -- only 25% of her kidney function is left. And not likely to get a kidney transplant because she's already 15 years old. (Come on -- a kidney transplant, who am I kidding??)

However, she really may not have long to live, anyway. It will be kitty-cide. I have discovered from whence the slight odor of kitty urine is coming from (slight might be an understatment). She has been using the floor behind the sofa. I have now just spent an hour cleaning up the mess. Thank goodness for wood floors and Odo-Ban.

The cat may die. The Mommy is not happy. Not happy at all.

I know what we are told in CPE, Con Ed, etc.... to ask the question, where is Grace to be found in this? Grace? I want Justice! Not Grace or Mercy. I cry for Justice! Now if only I could catch her... Here kitty, kitty, kitty...

as an aside -- have you ever noticed that cats are not in the Bible?


It started at night. I found him in the darkness.
I stole in like a thief, wanting the anonymity found under the cover of night.

Ha! Who am I fooling? I didn’t want anyone to see me. You see,
I am a man of standing in my community. I am a member of our ruling government, the Sanhedrin.

This man – he was a nobody. A rube from the provinces.

And yet, and yet, and yet.

There were rumors. He had shown signs and wonders. He told hard truths. All that he did pointed directly to God. And it was said that he could see your heart. My questions were burning a hole inside me – they burned so hard, I could not sleep.

I went to him late at night and asked him about it. I said “ Teacher, we know that you – um – it is said that you speak straight for God. God is with you, [beat] somehow. You wouldn’t be able to do all the things you do if God didn’t have His hand in it.”

I said it straight out, just like that, but it was really a question. I wanted to know -- hell, I needed to know.

He looked at me and I could feel the power of his eyes. They look right through my bravado, right through my pride and laid my heart open for all to see. He said “I am telling you up straight -- unless one is born from above, born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”

What! What does that mean?
I ask him a straight out question and he answers me with riddles.

I said “How can a grown up adult man go back into his mama’s womb? Huh? You want me to try and crawl back in? Jesus that doesn’t make any sense to me!”

He slapped the table with frustration. “You aren’t listening to me! Let me say it again and listen closely -- unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. Look at me, man!

"That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. That which belongs to this world
Is in this world. But your spirit,

"That belongs to God."

He looked me square in my eyes and came in close. I could feel his breath on my face and he said
“Do you remember when God breathed on the face of the deep? The wind hovers and skitters and no one knows from where it blows and to where.

"So it should be with you – the invisible, the Spirit is like the wind, moving you around. You can hear it moving in the trees – so must it be with you. You will be like the trees that are sculpted by the wind – you will take your shape according to the movements of the Spirit.”

I asked “How can this be?”

And he said “You are a learned man and a teacher and leader and you still don’t understand?

"Oh man, I have truly told you – I – all of us – we have told you of what we have seen with our own eyes and tell you of what we have seen and yet you do not believe us. I have told you of the things that are here on earth and you don’t believe. How are you to believe of the things in heaven? Only the Son of Man, who is from heaven knows what goes on in heaven.

"Do you remember when Moses lifted that crafty serpent on a pole to heal the people of Israel? Killed, it became vulnerable. So must the Son of Man be lifted up, to give eternal live and healing to this world.

"For God so loved this world that He gave his only begotten Son, so that whosoever believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.

"God did not send His Son into this world to condemn this world, but that that through him the world might be saved."

I sat for a moment, quiet. I didn’t understand. I am so old! Do I dare try to start over again?
We spoke for a few more minutes but our conversation was over.

I left him, just as I came, under the cover of darkness.

This week's monologue. I didn't put in script form here with the director's notes -- you will have to use your imagination. BBT talks in "The Preaching Life" about creative imagining of the scripture -- but I would add, only after close and careful exegesis and research. I try to look for the emotion that comes out of the narrative, not the emotion I want to add. I'm in the midst of writing one for the woman at the well, then the man blind from birth, then Lazarus, then Peter. I am doing less interpreting for the Maundy Thursday play and more interpreting for the 30 minute monologue for Mary the Mother. For some traditions, this is a scary thing. I've noticed that for some traditions, they read the Bible like it was the phonebook. Eyes cast down, adding little intonation and emotion. They feel that the can't add to the Word of God -- not even a heartfelt reading. I still feel slight conflict about this, until Teresa Fry-Brown pointed out that, if the exegesis is done, this is no more adding to the Word of God than the average sermon. So here it is. Blessings on you this week.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

the final questions

Daisymarie asks:

1. Which person in your life had the greatest influence upon your calling? That would be my mother. She was a product of the 1930’s – a child of the depression. She was a woman of faith, a woman who lived 50 years before her time. She was a woman in a man’s world, which inspires me. She gave me my life verse – “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” and “All things work together for good for those who love the Lord and are called according to his purpose.” Last year I found a piece of paper among my grandfather’s things where he quoted Romans 8:28 as well. My faith comes from my parents and grandparents, and yet through God’s providence, it is mine as well.
2. What book has been those most impactful upon your spiritual development? I cannot think on one single book. Parker Palmer’s work, Barbara Brown Taylor, Fred Craddock, Tom Long, Walter Brueggemann, Rachel Naomi Remen all are wonderful authors.
3. Tea or coffee? Heh heh heh. Both. Coffee in the morning until about noon then I swap over to tea – both hot and iced. My husband gave me a “year of tea” that was 52 varieties of tea – 10 bag of each type. Yum. One day, I’ll float away….. which reminds me of Chaos’ favorite joke – did you hear about the old Indian who just loved tea? He died one night – they found him the next morning in his Tee Pee.

Martha asked

1. Who's your favorite Biblical woman? Ruth, because it’s all about sex. =o). Not really, although I have written a complete exegesis on the book of Ruth. Fascinating stuff. It might be the woman at the well – the first person in the book of John to recognize Jesus as the messiah – or it could be Mary, the mother. Who is your favorite?
2. How did you meet your husband? Ah, on the proto-internet. I met him on an online forum wa-a-a-ay before there was an internet, at Ga. Tech. Back in the early 1980s. True geekdom here. I met him in person at what is now the Masquerade where Jay Bakker preachs. He wore black concert tee-shirts and black jeans, with mutton-chops. I think he was wearing a “Rush” tee-shirt that night. He was really protogoth geeky strange. So I tried to out weird him and told him I was a Gideon Bible salesperson who stole Gideon Bibles out of hotel rooms and sold them to lost souls on the streets of Atlanta and that was how I had met a mutual friend. He thought I was strange. Ah, we’re so boring now.
3. If you had a favorite child, would you admit it? Hmmm… I don’t think so. My kids are so different – and I wonder if it would be a good thing to do so. What do you think?

Good day at school today. I actually enjoyed the entire day. We breathed in breathing class (OK, it's called "Oral Presentation of Scripture and Sermon" and we do more that just breathe -- but -- it's really interesting how breathing correctly can really change a sermon), we preached in preaching class, we watched "The Apostle" in Con Ed (Contexual Education, usually accompanied with the word "bleh"), we had a contemporary worship service and then the Order of St. Luke had dinner with Dr. Saliers. Cool day. If they were all like this, life would be so fun.

Then home to cook dinner, pick up, wash clothing, scrub pots, clean the kitty box, help Chaos (the 11 year old) with homework and Entropy (the 8 year old) with a project. Hmmm.... School was more fun.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

It was the key that did it

It was the key that did it.

I removed the broken portion out of the lock with a pair of needle nosed pliers. I have left the top portion on my key ring as a reminder.

I think that the key gave out and broke from metal fatigue. The same key in the same lock for more than 10 years. If I averaged 3 uses a day or so, that would be 10,000 times that key had been used to open that lock. That’s a lot of twisting and turning and torque on a little sliver of metal.

I had put the key in the lock and then the Distraction Team (Chaos and Entropy, my 11 and 8 year old children) distracted me, I looked back and didn’t pay any attention to what I was doing and it snapped off. Just a little metal fatigue. Mental fatigue.

We stayed out in the garage for a while until I remembered that I might have a spare key in the glove compartment of the car. It was a strange time. We were home, but we weren’t. We were hungry and only 5 steps from the refrigerator. We were cold and only 15 steps from the fireplace. Tired and only a few feet from the sofa. Frustration, yes.

I opened the kitchen door, and then we were home. Just like that. A strange little moment and then it was over. But I was over it. I had reached the end.

I have been trying to do too much this week. I spent this morning “skipping out” of staff meeting (why do they need me there? I am the most junior member of the staff) and canceling my meeting with my spiritual director. He understood. I am at home and got some rest. I may or may not go to church tonight – I am not teaching. I accepted the help from a friend last night and she brought me dinner. The 11 year old baked homemade cookies – and washed up. (And who doesn’t believe in miracles?) And one of my favorite people in the world – my 90(?) year old Pastoral Counselor Prof, who I count as a close friend brought me one of his “cooking experiments” – a vegetarian fried rice. (The 11 year old – better know as Chaos – asked what was in it. I said Tofu. The response is not publishable.)

My little kitty is sitting on my shoulder as I type this. Abundance does abound, And I am not in control. What ever made me think I was?

The key did it. Doors will be opened.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

The A-Train is Derailed

Well, the stress level has reached a new high. Our domestic life is a well-oiled machine that comes to a screeching halt when the unexpected happens. My husband's back injury is a prime example. I am now a part of the walking-zombie-student-sleep-deprived-church-mommys (or maybe I'm the only one). I am running on 5 to 6 hours of sleep per night -- which isn't too bad in and of itself, if you do it just a few times, but I have now done it for 3 weeks. The Train is now derailed.

I could give a big list of smaller disasters:
the hot-water heater is leaking
my house key broke off in the lock
I erased my latest paper accidentally
I think I have strep
The cat has pe'ed on the stove
My left tail light is burnt out
The garbage is overflowing
We have no clean laundry
The kids ate the Peanut Butter with spoons in one sitting
A hair clip has been flushed and the toilet overflowed
The ice cream was left out overnight
We haven't been to karate in 2 weeks
and so on and so on,

I could go on with this list, but I'm just too tired.
This was not a good time for a severe back injury (as if there is a good time....) I have too much work to do. I need to write more dramas for the next 4 Sundays, the Maundy Thursday service, an ordination sermon, two exegesis papers, two other sermons for class, to enumerate a few academic things. Staff meeting in the morning, squabbles about the email prayer chain, Friday night Film Fest at church; Girl Scout cookie booth sales to set up, Room Mother stuff to do, as the Mommy

But what I am dreading the most:

Ordination papers due and meeting with the Board of Ordained Ministry on March 19th.

However, the train is not going to pull into any of these stations, because the train is derailed.

And, by the way, for those of you without children -- herding cats is easier than getting kids to do chores and homework. Trust me on this.

Friday, February 11, 2005

Temptation of Christ

This week's gospel in the lectionary is Matthew 4:1-11

"Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And he fasted forty days and forty nights, and afterward he was hungry. And the tempter came and said to him, "If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread." But he answered, "It is written, 'Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.'" Then the devil took him to the holy city, and set him on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to him, "If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down; for it is written, 'He will give his angels charge of you,' and 'On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.'" Jesus said to him, "Again it is written, 'You shall not tempt the Lord your God.'" Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain, and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and the glory of them; and he said to him, "All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me." Then Jesus said to him, "Begone, Satan! for it is written, 'You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.'"
Then the devil left him, and behold, angels came and ministered to him." (RSV)

I have written a little drama/monologue for Jesus -- here. It's based on "The Message" by Eugene Peterson. I noticed something interesting. Each of the exchanges with Jesus and Satan has an allusion to the word "stone." It's overt in the first two, but the third one is interesting. First, the mountians in that part of the world are stony -- rocky. And the word for mountain here is oros {or'-os} which means mountain but is related to the word airo {ah'-ee-ro} which means 1) to raise up, elevate, lift up a) to raise from the ground, take up stones.

Let me know what you think. I don't have problems with monologues in general -- I just have problems with it being Jesus. Who do you have to do the monologue? If it's not the "right" person, can this be an obstacle for the congregation?

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Ash Wednesday

I burn the palms from last year
A year gone with its dreams.
Burnt offerings to a God who tells me today
Ashes to Ashes, Dust to Dust

The brazier is warm from the fire called down
Which consumes and I wonder what fire is really
What is it that can change hope and joy to ash?
Charity and comfort to soot and smoke?

Broken promises, harsh words, betrayed trust
All part of this broken bit of creation
Fractured and pieced together,
The bits and pieces creating a mosaic of beauty, but not completeness.

The body of Christ has been rent and torn
Dismembered by its own limbs
Joints wrenched from their sockets
Bruised and Dislocated

Are my dreams but chimera?
Illusion, pipe dreams that smoke
An expectation of prospects that cannot be?
Or are they the substance that makes my life worth living?

Still, I will be obedient.
Hoping that in obedience there is comfort
Lessons to be learned,
Reconcilations to forge.

I look forward to that day of reconciliation
Where fire cleanses and the fire forges
Where the touch of a coal will purify
And the dross of self will be burned away.

But today, I wait.
The smoke, flame and heat pace me
The silence that never is really silent will be my voice
The void will be my friend

Today in obedience, I will wait
And the ash will mark me, branding me with the imprint of my own sin.
The blemish of the cross will stain me
And the weight of that cross will sustain me.

Fish's Questions

Fish asked these questions. Of course, he asked the big question first, so I am going to answer in reverse order. Maybe someone will read the entire thing.... =o)

3. Do you collect anything? If you ask the husband, he'll tell you that I have a collection of collections. Currently I collect telephone insulators (but haven't added any in a while) and anything with the Last Supper on it. I am decorating my kitchen in the "Last Supper." A sort of subtle joke, as I don't cook much while I'm in school and a sort of statement about my feelings about communion. If I were to look for a favorite chapter of the Bible, it probably would be I Corinthians 11. Good stuff. Lots of conflict, then lots of comfort for me personally. (favorite verse is Roman 8:28, favorite book John in NT and Eccles in OT). What's your favorite?

2. Is there any stranger that you've encountered that has stayed in your memory forever and why? Several. But currently, I am still thinking about David. I haven't seen him in a while, but I still think about him.

1. When did you decide to become a pastor and how did you come to the decision? (If you have posted on this I may have missed it as I've been a fairly new reader here)

I cannot remember a time in my life when I was not a Christian. I was born in Atlanta in the mid-60's and was raised an Associate Reformed Presbyterian. I grew up in Georgia on a small farm. To this day, I feel strong attachments to the land.

My first brush with the holy occurred when I was very young – a child or about 4 years old, I was an angel in our church’s nativity play on Christmas eve The night of the performance was cold and dark. Our little church didn’t have a narthex -- we had a small vestibule. To get to the vestibule we had to leave the warmth and the light of our Sunday School room and enter into the cold and dark world outside. My father picked me up in his arms and carried me to the front door. We waited in the dark December night for our cue to enter into the sanctuary. When we entered, could feel from the congregation waves of warmth, of love, of reflective contemplation and of worship. There was the smell of the candles and fir, there was a warm glow from the dimmed overhead lights and the candles, there was the silent attention from the congregation and I felt worship. When I said “Glory to God in the Highest”, I glorified my God. We sang Silent Night and I cried from the beauty of it. I still cry at true worship.

I remember understanding the nature of sin and the forgiveness of God when I was 7 years old. I “piddled” in my mother’s makeup, dousing my self with her perfume and lighting a candle on her dresser. When I was discovered playing with fire and my mother’s things, my father showed his own fire. Spanked and sent to my own room, I hid in the closet. I realized that God could see me in my shame, even in the closet. I remembered the prayer my mother had taught me asking God to forgive my sins. I prayed that prayer and left my fear. I had reached the age of accountability. I realized that God could and would forgive me.

I graduated from High School rather early and started to go to the local commuter University in 1977. I went to college for 6 years and never really left home. I stayed at home, taking care of my Grandfather on the death of his wife, and taking care of my father when he retired from working for the county. The Baptist Student Union at the University became the center of my life. It was there that I realized that God loves me and that I am worthy of God’s unconditional love. I learned what unconditional love could be. It was a new experience in some ways. My experience of love through my parents felt always conditional to being the good and dutiful daughter, not deviating from the path they had set in front of me. This realization of God’s unconditional love was my third true epiphany. From this, I become more of the person God meant for me to be. Warmed by God’s love, I became bolder, eventually leading a Praise and Worship team at the BSU, traveling to different Baptist churches, nursing homes and other places to lead worship services. I started teaching a two year cycle of discipleship called Masterlife sponsored by the Baptist church. My experiences of God’s love transformed me. I felt called to the ministry In 1984, I told my parents that I was going to seminary. My father was adamantly against this. I was told that not only would they not pay, I would not have their support and would not live under their roof if I attended seminary. Not a naturally bold person, I began to doubt my calling. I doubted if I was called to service at all. I prayed, but my prayers tangled in emotions brought about by the response of my parents. If my parents felt this way, did God? That summer I drifted on -- taking a couple of classes in Graduate school, but my heart was not in my studies. I finally decided to get a job.

In the fall of 1984, I went to work at the local science center as a teacher. I slammed the door shut behind me, cutting off all of my old life and carrying nothing forward into my new life as a teacher. I severed ties with most of my friends from my church and college years. I purchased a new car -- candy apple red and turbo-charged. After a couple of years of excesses, I met and married a good man. We both were from Christian homes, but were not especially interested in pursuing a Christian lifestyle. We were conspicuous consumers. After 8 years of marriage, we had a baby. In 1995 my father died. In 1996 my mother moved and the year from hell began.

When my father died, my mother found out that she was going to have a hard time making ends meet. In January 1996 my mother moved herself and my aging grandmother into a new house closer to myself and my husband. She had not fully grieved my father and yet was taking on more burdens. She began to depend on me to help her. By this time, I was expecting my second child. I was disillusioned with my materialistic lifestyle, dissatisfied with my career, and unhappy with leaving my 2 year old to go to work. In March my sister moved into the new house with her small son, unhappy with her own marriage. In April I discovered a tumor in my right breast. I had already gone into pre-term labor, and could not have the tumor removed. Later that month, I helped my mother move my grandmother into a nursing home. My mother spiraled into a deeper depression. She found no joy in life and she leaned on me heavily. She entered the hospital at least twice with pneumonia. In May, my husband’s parents came and stayed with us for a couple of weeks to prepare for the baby. On Mother’s day, J’s mother (my husband’s grandmother) choked to death on a piece of meat that J had prepared. My first born child K witnessed this death and dreams about it still. On the day after the funeral, L was born.

L was a sick little baby. By her second day of life, L was jaundiced and we used Bili-lights with her to break up the toxins in her blood. By her fifth day of life, she was recovering, but I was in shock. That day my sister had called me from the local hospital and asked me to come pick her up. My mother and her husband committed her to the hospital for mood disorders. She begged me to check her out of the hospital. I felt helpless. I remember my prayers from that week were much different than my prayers before. That week I begged. I pleaded. I screamed. I asked for the world to be changed. Eventually exhausted, I prayed by holding and rocking my newborn child and asking for peace. The world was not changed, but I was. I surrendered control. I realized that I could do nothing. I made the decision to pray for God’s will to be done. I prayed not for understanding, but for acceptance. I remembered the story of Job and sat in my ashes, praying to God.

When I got home, I discovered that my mother was defrauded by her builder causing more financial stress. That summer, my sister was hospitalized for depression twice, as well as my mother. That summer, I discovered that my newborn could not be weaned. She came within a few ounces of a condition called “failure to thrive”. All this time, the tumor in my breast grew from the size of a pea to the size of a walnut. I decided to wait for surgery. I trusted that God could find a solution. I know I couldn’t. I prayed. In September, I had the surgery and a large amount of tissue removed. I had lost my job by now -- the school system had me on extended medical leave, but my time had run out. I was at home full time now with my daughters. In early October 1996, I developed a severe wound infection. The wound had to be left open and be dressed daily by visiting nurses for several months. It was during this time I recommitted my life to Jesus Christ. I look at that summer as the catalyst that led me back home. The events of that summer led me on a journey of re-discovery. My husband and I began to attend church regularly. I joined a Disciple I class and rediscovered the joy of studying the Word of God.

There is a quote from William Cullen Bryant that goes: “Truth, crushed to earth, shall rise again; Th' eternal years of God are hers” (Battle-Field, 1837). I tried to crush the Spirit of Truth -- but it rose again in me. I remember the call I had in college. I tried to crush it out, but it sprung up from the ground. I remember the faith I had it college. It has changed. I have become more accepting of others. I am not so arrogant to think I can judge who will and who will not come before the throne of Grace.

I look at my life and see that I have a call to serve. Looking deeply and spending time in prayer, I feel that it is a true call. I am a good teacher and enjoy teaching. I counseled many students in my years at the science center, and I am good at it. I can speak in public. Once I considered the years teaching years that the locusts ate, but now see that they were not wasted but fruitful.

Also, the last two years I spent with my mother were well spent -- we had eventually agreed that she and my father were wrong in not encouraging me to attend seminary. She was willing to support me in my decision to apply to seminary. She and I talked a good deal about mortality and the end of life. When she died, she was prepared. I like to think that I helped her in this process. On the way to the hospital the last week of her life, we enumerated the blessings that have come about as a result of the year from hell. The rediscovery of my call is one of the blessings we enumerated.

That's it and thanks for listening! I would love to hear of your story, your faith journey.

Monday, February 07, 2005

more questions

from thicket dweller
1. What keeps you awake at night? Funny, I do have some insominia. It's usually what ever I am writing at the time. Last night it was a combination of Joel 2 and too much hot tea. The caffeine did me in. The paper is due Thursday and I haven't had a big brainstorm to make it a really outstanding paper. I do a lot of day dreaming, thinking about, well, stuff. Other nights it my bad hip. Recently it's worry about school and money stress. But most of the time it's just my brain racing around, thinking stuff up.

2. How does your faith differ from others? Well, I am of the distinct opinion that faith, real honest to God faith, the kind that can get you through thick and thin, is not a feeling but a way of life and a gift of the Spirit. True faith is a way that you live your life, not an emotional reaction to events. I often have thought that faith should not be a noun, but a verb. I act on my faith, even when it doesn't "feel good" or when I just want to say "I don't wanna." Hmmm.... What does that mean? That it's more important to act in faith than to get instant gratification. Every action in life must be done in a faithful manner, in a way that will not betray your inner integrity to God. Is this different than others? Maybe. It's not a list of rules that has to be followed. It's not like a cooking recipe. It's a process in which we become more like God's annointed one -- more like Christ. Obedient unto death. Christ was obedient unto death. I don't think that the agony in the garden was something that "felt good." My mentor, Fred Craddock, was scheduled to appear at a good friend's church -- in fact the event was set up 3 or 4 years in advance. A few days before the event, Fred called up and canceled. His sister was dying. He recalled later that he had to act in faith. Faith required that he be with his sister and the event was canceled. He recalled that he prayed in faith in a way he never had prayed before. Sweat rolled off his face like blood. yet at the end, he could only pray that "Thy will be done." This is true faith. Did it feel good? Or was it obedience unto death?

You know what, I don't think I really answered your question.

3. What one thing do you wish you could do? Lose weight. Period. The number one thing.

And since I seem to be giving an extra answer for my other questions, here's an extra question for you to answer:

4. As for #3, why don't you do it? Err, uhh, we-e-e-ll, I *do* try! Maybe God needs me so that the tall, thin types look taller and thinner! Maybe it's lack of time. Maybe I'm scared of it. Maybe I eat for comfort, but I sure would like to lose 50 pounds before next Christmas! (BTW, the kids learning math may not be a good thing. The 8 year old just noticed "I'm half as heavy as K and she's half as heavy as you are, Mama. That means you are FOUR TIMES as heavy as me. WOW." Kids. Don't they just say the $%^&est things?)

Sunday, February 06, 2005

Questions, Questions

Peripatetic Polar Bear asks:

1. When you were a child, what did you think you'd be when you grew up? I wanted to be a scientist and an actor. At the same time. Important, earthshattering scientific discoveries by day, Rodgers and Hammerstein by night. I was able to (sort of) accomplish both -- I worked as the "offical mathematician" at the local science center for 13 years and have been involved in theatre for 22 years. I still love theatre, but right now real life gives me all the drama I could want, nes pas?

2. If you could do one moment of your life over again, what would it be? The night my father died. He had been in bad health for a long time, he lost a lung as a result of his involvement in WWII and had been a semi-invalid for many many years. He contracted a type of pneumonia that antibiotics wouldn't touch. My mother and sister and I had been camping out in the hospital waiting room for more than a week and we all were stress and tired. We had talked to the hospital administration about moving him to hospice care the next day. He looked stable for the night and so for the first time in more than a week we decided to go home and get some sleep. I was really irritable from lost sleep and nursing an infant. When he said "Good night baby. Thanks for the dinner and I love you," I was really short with him and said something like "yeah, yeah. See you tomorrow." That was our last conversation. If I could, I would go back and leave with more loving words. But I have realized that it's how you live your life, not the words that you leave on that really matter -- so I have a measure of peace. But still want to change it.

3. If you could be a superhero, what super-power would you want to have? I want a "turn-backer" watch like Hermione has in the last movie. It would be *so* cool.

From Michael at Blogin' Idiot

1. To find those precious moments alone do you find yourself staying up late, getting up early or a little of both? Ooooo... I am the definitive night owl. I usually am the last person to go to bed and stay up way too late. So, mornings are ba-a-a-d. I drink lots of coffee. But, three days a week I see the kids off to school and the husband off to work and I have time to drink coffee, listen to music and write lots and lots of seminary papers. But I don't really become human until way after 9:00 am.

2. God provides small miracles every day. What was the most memorable miracle for you? The everyday miracles that we take for granted are special. However, my most definitive miracle that defined both my faith and my journey occured during 1996, when I had breast cancer that I discovered during my 8th month of pregnancy. I had already gone into preterm labor and the baby had low birthweight, so we decided not to operate -- that it would be too risky. I waited until the baby was 6 weeks old and tried to wean her so that I could have the tumor removed. By this time the tumor had grown from the size of an English pea to a Walnut. Weaning the baby was unsucessful. She was allergic to all the baby formulas we tried (more than 17). She came within a few ounces of a condition called "failure to thrive." She could not tolerate anything but human breast milk. I could not stop nursing without risking the life of my baby. I risked my own life by not having the tumor removed. I chose to wait. After six months the baby was large enough to wean off one side and I have the tumor removed. They removed more than 1000 cc of tissue. I continued to nurse and then developed a severe wound infection. The miracle? I never had radiation or chemo and to this date have not had a re-occurance. I feel I have found healing. Through this experience, I rediscovered God. I rediscovered what it really means to act out your faith. I learned reliance on God. I re-discovered my call from God. My husband and I became stronger individually and stronger in our marriage. Through this suffering, my life was redefined and somehow redeemed. That's the miracle. Strange, huh?

3. Peeking at you through the veil of your blog I see a beautiful, talented, intelligent, articulate, organized and persistent young lady with a heart full of love. How do you see yourself? Uhhh... Hmmm... Just me! Persistant sure fits. Like a dog with a bone. depends on what you call young. From your comments, I believe we are about the same age. About. I can do some things well. I *love* to teach -- I am defining my ministry position as "Associate for Christian Education and Technology." I *love* to preach. It's the hardest thing to do, but it's also an incredible experience. I love to bring the congregation to God in prayer. Today I felt the Spirit move during the prayer -- we had a person kneeling after communion -- she is going to have surgery this Wednesday and about 15 people surrounded her and laid on hands. I went to the lecturn to pray -- I had lost the prayer I had written, so the prayer was extemporaneous. I felt the little group around B expand until the entire congregation was enfolded in prayer. When we began to pray the Lord's prayer, the unity I felt cannot be expressed. I do love my people.

Organized? only by necessity, not nature.
More later. My, that was tiring.

Saturday, February 05, 2005

Palm Cross -- A How-To Guide

I have been asked by several people how to make the little palm crosses. I drew a picture.
Here are two images.

Notes: not all of the palm fronds will be usable. It can't be too thick or the cross doesn't look right. Or too skinny. It has to be pretty fresh, otherwise they break instead of fold. To get them nice and flat, but them in or under a book to dry out. When burning for Ash Wednesday, burn in pottery bowl and crush the ash with a mortar and pestle. You can burn a few for show during the service and drop them in, but it might be "chunky". Very very important -- use oil to apply the ashes. I use the oil from Christmas that contains Frankincense and Myrrh (sort of symbolic (oil for anointing uses F and M, they are used for preparing the body for burial, Advent is seen as a pentiental season)). If you use water, you can create sodium hydroxide -- i.e. lye. Ashes + water = lye. All soap makers know this. You can leave a nice little lye burn on the forehead if you use water....

If you get stuck... I don't know if I can write out the directions.... it's a visual thing. Good Luck!

Fun Stuff

Cute little games without the violence of most online games
Found Here.

Then from Michael at Bloggin' Idiot who passed it to Fish and Liesa and who got it from Unspace who got from Therapy Failed who got it from Dell who stole it from Stacey who lifted it from Big Orange Michael who borrowed it from All Things Jen(nifer) who picked it up at Master Foley's Blog:

First, recommend to me:
1. A movie:
2. A book:
3. A musical artist, song, or album:

Next, I want everyone who reads this to ask me three questions, no more, no less. Ask me anything you want. (I will respond in subsequent posts. I reserve the right to not answer questions that might hurt someone else or that might be grossly inappropriate for my blog.)

Then, I want you to go to your blog, copy and paste this allowing your friends to ask you anything they want!


Stress and Money

Funny how these two things go together. Stress -- my husband is still out of commission -- he's on the floor right now, flat on his back. The slipped disk is not getting much better. The muscle soreness is better, but he cannot stand or sit without incredible pain. This may be a recovery of several weeks, not days. Next step will be the orthopedic surgeon -- the Doctor of Osteopathy did some exams and manipulations, but this may have to be surgically fixed. All the household chores that my husband is responsible for -- the dishes, carrying the laundry up and down the stairs, part of the carpool business, the bills and taxes are now falling on me, along with my usual responsibilities. I am trying to get the girls educated on how to do the laundry and dishes, with some pink underwear and melted plastic as the result. The house is slowly getting worse, crunchy floors, pink underwear and smell of melted plastic permeating the air.

As for money, if he goes on short-term disability, we pull 80% of the paycheck. Not too bad, but also since it is the beginning of the year, we have to meet the medical insurance deductible. And my scholarship check for this semester came in the mail yesterday -- it's $4000 less than last year. We were going to have $1000 a month of scholarship money to spend on household expenses. In fact, we counted on it. But because the endowment at the university are "under water" -- that means that they have spent down the endowment to the last penny and can spend no more (a result of the bad years from 2000 to 2002), all scholarships have been cut down to a third of what they were last year. Hence, we will have $333 dollars per month from the scholarship. And my "generous" salary at the church isn't going to cut it -- we have a legal relationship, meaning they pay me $1 an hour. However, since I am on staff and being appointed as of March as a local pastor (Lord willing and crick don't rise), I will not have to have the 5 years of servitude to the conference after I graduate, only 2 years. And I will not have to pay back approximately $33,000 on my scholarship -- it becomes a true scholarship, not a loan. But what are we going to eat? Padre Pio existed on nothing but the elements for most of his life, but I think that the kids want something more....

But and But and But. I did receive a large boon this January. After 3 1/2 years, I was able to close my mother's estate and did receive some money. I had planned to put it in investments, so that I could save for my retirement, but. We may have to live on it. I was debating on going to school this summer, but I don't think that I can afford both the tuition (not covered under my scholarship) and childcare. Funny how un-important that seems now....

Thursday, February 03, 2005

My hands are stained green

My hands are stained green
From the palms on Sunday.
Compulsively I make small crosses
With them – ripping off their fronds
Folding and tucking and tearing.

They will dry and serve as a reminder
Of the conflicting voices I heard yesterday.
Echoes of the voices throughout the centuries.
Daily we praise Him and cry out for delivery
Daily we call for Him to be crucified.

I have tucked one in my Bible
To use next year, to burn and apply
As Ash Wednesday’s ashes.
I make a hundred more to give away
Little dried reminders of the glory and the conflict of the day.

Then I remembered the palm cross I received
A year ago, from a dear friend who died Palm Sunday.
A year has passed – time has dulled the memory.
When he died, where his fingers stained green as well?
The green faded, the cross crumbled to dust; my memory bleached with time.

I compulsively make these crosses.
I will give them away as a reminder to others
But mostly to remind myself of the fragility of life --
Of the ephemeral nature of existence,
Of the enduring nature
Of the cross,
Of stains that
Be washed away.

I found all the little palm crosses I made last year. I remember sitting at a table at lunch after church on Palm Sunday with a basket of the palm fronds, folding and tucking. One right after another. You have to make them while the frond is still green and flexible or you will never be able to shape and form them correctly. I suppose there is a life-lesson in this. New growth is always easy to shape and is flexible.

This was the third year I have made Palms Crosses – I had made them the two years before as well. I actually am rather compulsive about it. You see, the person who taught me to make them on Palm Sunday almost two years ago died that very day. He was a good man – he wasn’t a perfect man, but good. He was very well loved by the community, as was his wife. He did have a large flaw – he was a flirt. He flirted with anything with skirts. He actually was probably a dirty old man, except he was so charming about it.

He went to church that Palm Sunday and went to lunch with friends. He and a friend hitched a trailer to his truck and went to pick up a horse a few miles south of here. They never arrived. V was thrown free of the truck – he never believed in seat belts and his neck snapped on impact with the pavement. We got the call late Sunday night. I rushed up to the church, to see what I could do, but there was nothing that could be done. The parking lot was dark and there were palm branches strewn about. They were still flexible and green. Over the next few days they dried, their color fading and they became brittle.

I think of this and I remembered this poem I wrote a year after V’s death. It’s not good poetry, but it served its purpose. The fronds from Palm Sunday will serve their purpose next Wednesday. We will sprinkle them with salt and burn them. They become a symbol of our sin and repentance. The glory and triumph of Holy Week becoming so quickly sorrow. We combine the ash with the frankincense and myrrh from Christmas, the oil of anointing. Ashes to ashes, dust to dust. "Remember you are dust, and to dust you shall return".

Wednesday, February 02, 2005


my husband woke up with a sore and aching back. several hours and doctors later we discover he has a slipped disk. a week of forced bedrest and good drugs. it's not a bad thing, it can be used as a time for slowing down a little, a time for reflection and refocusing. sometimes events conspire and make us regroup, especially when we won't slow down and refocus by ourselves. we have made some executive decisions -- i am going to skip church and the whole family is going to stay home tonight. we don't spend time together, as it is. simple dinner, down time for the kids and myself, rest for my husband. i am going to spend the time on the exegetical paper that is due next week. i am going to try and finish in the next couple of days. i am learning the beauty of having things done in plenty of time and the grace of having a known and fixed schedule for myself and the kids. but there is beauty and grace in letting go of it as well.

beauty and grace. we get our self image and self esteem so often by what we are and what we do. i had no problem with self image when i worked at the local science center and was an "expert" in my field. at home mommies have less self esteem and prestigue in this society. beauty is external and grace is measured in our society.

but if we live a life of faith, beauty permeates all things and grace is unmeasured, poured out and heaping. even with slipped disks and unwritten papers, bible studies untaught and lazy evenings at home.

the girls have covered up my husband with their favorite blankets and are "fixing" a cup of hot chocolate for the sore and aching daddy, the kitty cat is sleeping on top of him (probably leaking, as she tends to do), I have a full laptop battery and strong wifi signal, the day is closing, dinner is on the stove and we sit right now in a moment of peace.

Grace Abounds.