Thursday, January 31, 2008

Things That Make Me Happy -- Thursday Edition

And for which I am grateful:
  • Karate lessons with the entire family. It tickled the girls to be the "instructors" and order us around. I'm sore in places I never knew existed...
  • Giant muffins for breakfast from Sam's.
  • Girls who will do their homework with no prompting from the Mama.
  • Backflips from Ninja Kitty.
  • Featherbeds.
  • Warm, clean laundry fresh from the dryer.
  • A new (big) hard drive for my laptop (missing piece is finally here -- who knew there was a difference between an ATA enclosure and a SATA enclosure?)
  • A husband who is "pimping" my computer.
For these things, I give thanks.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Things That Make Me Happy -- Wednesday Edition

And for which I am grateful.
My quiet time in which I talk to God.
International Delight's Chocolate and Caramel (Chocolate by Hershey's) in my coffee.
Sunsweet Dried Cherries.
Playful Black Ninja Kitten. (Super stealth mode right now.)
Sunshine and blue skies.
Lunch with my husband.
Antique Log Cabins.
American Empire and Duncan Phyfe designs.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Things That Make Me Happy -- Tuesday Edition

And for which I am grateful.
  • Finishing my 8th grade social studies homework (at 1:00 am) -- actually, I was glad to be of help. It was good girl/mommy bonding time.
  • Chili in the crock pot.
  • Snuggly Old Lady Cat in my lap.
  • Old Movies on AMC.
  • Nice weather and a long walk.
  • $400 credit at used book store. I feel a shopping spree coming on....

Monday, January 28, 2008

Things That Make Me Happy

And for which I am grateful.
  • My honor roll students (Entropy was Honor Roll, Chaos was High Honors. Yeah!) and my Loving Husband.
  • Spending time with them, even if the kids don't make Honor Roll.
  • Listening to the kids practice their music (especially the cello and piano) and watching them at karate (I love watching Chaos do form number one with the Bo Staff.)
  • My Prayer Hour in the morning with my cup of coffee and tea. (See previous entries.)
  • Lunch after church with good friends.
  • A clean and organized house. Sorted drawers, clean living spaces, made up beds with fresh linens. I'm working on these three today.
    • Sub topic: Doing it "all together" with the family. Makes me feel we are all pulling in the same direction.
  • "Jaw-jackin'" with my BFF. (on the phone as we clean, usually.)
  • Reading a good book.
  • Cooking a really good dinner (but not the clean up....)
  • Doing something creative -- photography, paint, design, embroidery, music, write, stained glass and quilt.
  • A clean and organized church. All classrooms clean and neat; worship space clean and serene. This actually is harder than keeping the house clean at times. The UMW and I are going to build a strategy to "get it done."
  • A good worship service (we had a good one yesterday).
  • A good anthem (ditto).
  • Choir practice and Bible Studies.
  • A Sunday afternoon drive or walk to somewhere I've never been before.
  • Visiting church people.
  • Wandering around small college campuses and graveyards. (Different? Same difference?)
  • Bubble Shooter and other computer pursuits.
  • What makes you happy?

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Picture 19, 20 and 21 of 365 for 2008 (or Picture 267, 268 and 269 for 365 for 2007) Chaos' Birthday



Present (The complete boxed set of Harry Potter 1-5, collector's edition, in it's own little trunk with bookmarks and other goodies.)

Friday, January 25, 2008

I Want To Be A Bear

There is one of those perpetual emails that float around that starts out, "I want to be a bear." Bears get to hibernate. I feel like hibernating. Every year around this time, I want to hibernate. It must have something to do with the post-Christmas torpor, the short days, the cold weather and so forth. I love staying home at this time. If if were up to me, I probably wouldn't leave the house until it warmed up a good deal. I've also been "nesting" quite a bit -- actually enjoying the household chores -- especially warm laundry from the dryer and organizing drawers. I don't even want to watch much TV -- I'd rather read a book in bed. According to Wikipedia:
Hibernation is a state of inactivity and metabolic depression in animals, characterized by lower body temperature, slower breathing, and lower metabolic rate. Hibernation conserves energy, especially during winter.
Sounds good to me. When can I start?

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Thursday Bullets

  • I've ordered choir music that will keep us busy through June, complete with listening CDs. I sure hope my order gets here today! (I'm excited!)
  • I've sold a total of 255 books since September on Amazon. I'm happy. Stuff reduction is progressing.
  • I still haven't finished putting up the Christmas stuff. I'm sorting it out and thinning. How did we ever get so much of it?
  • I'm doing the everyday chores -- there is a soothing rhythm to doing the everyday things. Laundry, dishes, sweeping, putting to order. There are days that I strain at it and days where it is soothing. I love the days where it soothes.
  • Johnny Cat is still quite a "kitten" (even at 7 months.) I had forgotten how destructive kittens can be. So far, in the bedroom prison, he's broken an extremely expensive glass ornament that commemorated the 100 anniversary of flight that we purchased at Kitty Hawk and a plate that was hanging on the wall. He's also been chewing on electrical cords, pouncing on the comforter and "picking" at it, playing with the toilet paper and pulling the wallpaper off in the bathroom. I did want new wallpaper ... someday. That day may be sooner rather than later. I'm trying to integrate him into the entire household. Grumpy Old Lady Cat really does not like him...
  • The LH and I are starting our karate lessons Friday night... and I'm timid. Yes, I can stand in front of hundreds of people and preach or sing. Not problem there, but I'm timid about karate. Go figure.
  • My current mental occupation -- I'm designing a little log cabin. I wonder why sometimes -- I think it's related to my "Theology of Space"-- I'm looking for a place to be a retreat. Maybe I'll post pictures.... Maybe not.
  • I'm contemplating SL (Second Life) and "virtual" sin. I've encountered many, many people in SL now who went to SL to do naughty things -- things they would never do in Real Life, knowing that they are sin. However, they have discovered that the virtual sin soils just like real sin. Something to think about. It makes me wonder "where" sin occurs -- the mind? the body? the soul? Any or all? It makes me wonder at the nature of sin, as well...

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Monday was the Gloomiest Day of the Year

According to Cliff Arnall.
From the Daily Mail (UK)

Psychologist Cliff Arnall, an expert in depression, has used a mathematical formula to pinpoint today as Blue Monday.

He says it is the day when six factors come together to leave us at our most miserable.

They are: the dank and gloomy weather; Christmas debt; a feeling of monotony after the Christmas cheer has faded; broken New Year's resolutions; low levels of motivation; and a desperate feeling that you need to take action to improve your drab existence.

To this I would add "short days" and "no break in sight." I talked to my oldest daughter and my nephew yesterday about how they were feeling -- and since it was a really gray day, they both were feeling blue. I always thought that January was awful. March is pretty bad, too, because you get so ready for Spring ... and you're ready and waiting ... and waiting ... and waiting... March takes forever to get by.

Today is nice and sunny, but some of the feelings are much the same. The kids are stressed from school and the ordinary stress in life. I'm working as hard as I can to "get ready" for whatever will come in June (moving? not moving? new church? no new appointment?). I'm still working on the decluttering of the house -- the "stuff reduction." My Amazon sales are OK, but I'm having to go back and put SKUs on all the boxes that don't have SKUs. I need to finish putting away the Christmas decorations and pull out all the eBay boxes. I want to finish cleaning the kitchen. I could go on and on. When I dwell on the amount of stuff that needs be done, it does become overwhelming at times, but that role model does not serve me well. The kids pick it up and does us no good. We had a nice pajama day already this week -- maybe it's time for a movie and pizza night... Hmm....

Monday, January 21, 2008

Snow Day and then Pajama Day

Saturday we had snow. It's such a rare thing in Atlanta now. Here's some pictures. And today was a Holiday -- the kids are home from school. Harry Potter came and visited. Funny, I though he was a boy. Hmmm.

Rice of the Day -- Greek Rice with Lemon/Rosemary Chicken

7 cups Basamati Rice
2 tbsp Olive Oil
4 Chicken Bouillon cubes
1 tbsp dried Dill
1 tbsp Pepper
1 tbsp Lemon Peel
4 tbsp Dried Rosemary

4 Boneless Breasts of Chicken
Olive Oil
2 Lemons
1 Onion
4 tbsp Rosemary

Feta Cheese
Parmesan Cheese

Toast rice gently in olive oil in large pan on stove. Place all dry ingredients in rice cooker and fill to 7 cup mark on "White Rice" scale. Mix throughly and cook on "Regular White Rice." Cover bottom of 3 quart covered Corningware dish with olive oil, place rinsed Chicken (pat dry with towel) in dish. Steep rosemary in 1/4 hot water for about 2 minutes. Pour over chicken. Slice lemons and cover chicken with lemon slices, likewise the onion. Drizzle some olive oil over layered chicken, lemons and onions. Cover and bake on 350 for a little more than an hour. When done, shred chicken in bite size pieces and gently chop roasted vegetables. Stir chopped veggies and shredded chicken in the broth in the roasting pan and stir. Place rice in bowl, cover rice with chicken and vegetables. Garnish with crumbled Feta and Parmesan cheese.

Excellent! Next time I will roast more onions and not add the chopped lemons -- the onions were quite popular, the lemons, not so much.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Rice of the Day -- Green Tea Bamboo Rice

1 lb. Bamboo Rice (about 3 "cups")
Pot of cooled Green Tea (strong brew)
pinch of salt
1/2 teaspoon powdered Ginger

Stir in:
1/2 cup Golden Raisins
1/2 cup Sliced Almonds
2 tbsp butter
1/2 cup honey

Rinse Bamboo Rice about 3 times or until no longer cloudy. Place in cooker. Fill to a little beyond the 3 cup mark for White rice with the Green Tea. Stir in salt and ginger. Set rice cooker on white rice.

When the cooker has just a few minutes to go, melt butter in non-stick frying pan. Toast almonds until nice and golden brown and remove from heat. Stir in the raisins and honey. When cooker is finished, stir this mixture into the rice and let sit on the "keep warm" setting for 10 minutes.

When serving, you may want to add more honey.

Very good -- 5 stars.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Minister of ....

John at Locusts and Honey had a posting about strange ministry titles, one of which is Minister of Assimilation. Here is my humble attempt at humor. I hope you "get it."

Here's a Minister of Art. (Horrible, I know.)

This one is for Gavin. Your denominational distinctiveness will be added to the Emerging Church. Resistance is futile.

For some, the assimilation is completed.

May the Farce (uh, Force) be with you.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Rice of the Day -- Italian Risotto with Mushrooms and Tofu

1/2 Sweet, mild Onion, diced (or Shallots -- 1/2 to 1 cup)
2 tbsp. Olive Oil (very light in color)
2 tbsp. Sesame Oil
2 "cups" Italian Risotto rice, unrinsed
1 tbsp. fresh ground pepper
1 tbsp. salt
1 cup white wine
1 cup chicken broth

1 1/2 cup Sliced Mushrooms (I would prefer Baby Bella, but used plain white ones)
4-8 oz. very firm tofu, in 1/2 to 1 inch cubes
1/2 onion, diced
2 tbsp. Olive Oil
2 tbsp. Sesame Oil
2 tbsp. Soy Sauce
1 tbsp. pepper

In the Olive Oil, saute the 1/2 onion until limp and slightly caramelized. Add the rice and brown in the pan for about 2 or three minutes. Add the salt and pepper. At the very end, add the Sesame Oil. Place in the cooker and add the broth and wine. Fill with water until the 2.0 line for Porridge is reached. Close the lid and set the machine on "Porridge." It will take a while -- about an hour. Since the machine uses fuzzy logic, it will optimize all the variables it senses with the sensor so that the rice is cooked perfectly.

When it shows 15 minutes left to go, place Olive Oil in pan and begin to cook the onion. After a couple of minutes, add the sliced mushrooms and tofu. Saute until nice and brown. Add the Soy Sauce, pepper and Sesame Oil and remove from heat. When the rice is ready, spoon the hot rice porridge into 4 bowls and spoon some Mushroom mixture on top. Dress with some sprinkled toasted Sesame seeds.

Serve with Green salad and hot French bread.

Changes: This was very good; not excellent. Reduce the amount of pepper; increase the amount of broth or use bullion cubes. Do not caramelize the onions; leave off the soy sauce. The Tofu was good, but the kids didn't care for it. Add Parmesan cheese.

Still, the texture of the Risotto was perfect; this machine works very well on a Risotto.

Picture 254 (2007) or 6 (2008) of 365 -- Christmas Tree

Pictures 254, 255 and 256 (2007) or 6, 7 and 8 (2008)

Every year for the past decade or so, we've cut our own Christmas tree. There's a Christmas tree farm just down the road a bit -- it's not a traditional looking tree. We usually get a Leland Cypress which is a little "yellow" for a Christmas tree, but they grow really well here and don't shed needles. AND I'm not allergic to them.

The trees were very sad looking this year. The drought means that they were not able to irrigate and most had patches of brown. The didn't grow as tall and so were cutting shorter trees. There were a lot of people who "passed" this year and purchased imported trees -- all of this adds up to the fact that the people who own the tree farm did not do well this Christmas. I don't know that there were but half the people who usually come and they had cut the prices on the tress to half what they usually are, because of the stunted growth and brown patches. There are so many industries that have been hard hit by this drought. With the depression in our housing market and agriculture getting hit so hard, many people around here are having problems making ends meet.

Oh, that third picture? Fire ants.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Rice of the Day - "Spanish" rice

4 "cups" (Japanese cups are smaller than American cups) white rice
A couple of tablespoons of olive oil
2 cans of chicken broth
1/2 cup salsa
Adobo seasoning
Dash of Chili powder

1-2 cups diced chicken, seasoned with Adobo seasoning
1 cup chopped tomatoes
1-2 cups shredded cheddar
1 cup salsa
Sour Cream

Brown off the rice in the olive oil over the stove. The more patient you are and the browner you get the rice, the nuttier the taste. When browned, place rice in cooker along with broth, salsa, Adobo seasoning and chili powder. Fill with water (if necessary) to the 4 cup line and cook on the "Mixed" setting.

When done (about 50 minutes), spoon hot rice into 4 bowls, top with a sprinkling of cheese (1/4 to 1/2 cup), 1/2 cup of diced chicken, 1/4 cup tomatoes, a couple of tablespoons of salsa and sour cream and diced Avacado.

We didn't use all the rice I cooked -- the Loving Husband will have it for lunch tomorrow. Chaos skipped the cheddar and heated up some Queso and poured that on. And I was the only one who had Avacado...

Very Yum.

Picture 253 (2007) or 5 (2008) of 365 -- Repurposing

Here is a slightly fuzzy picture of our "new" bow rack in the dining room. It is actually a bottle drying rack I've had floating around the garage for years. I received it when Chaos was a baby and it was, truly, very useful in it's day. I used it for years for both Chaos and Entropy. There are 7 tall pegs for the bottles and 6 smaller pegs for the "ring" and the nipple. Solid maple construction, for years it was beside the sink to hold the bottles as they were washed and the nipples were boiled and dried. When Entropy stopped taking a bottle, I moved it to the shelf in the garage to "give away" but each time I made a Goodwill bag, I hung on to it. I don't really know why -- it's just so nicely made that I thought I could do something with it.

My garage is full of stuff that I want to "do something with." I love to re-purpose and give new life to older objects. It appeals to the part of me that is "cheap" i.e. not wanting to spend money. It also appeals to me that an object that has been loved will still carry some sort of legacy. It may have to go through some transformations -- we actually had to drill holes in the bottle rack to use it as a bow rack, but now I have filled a need (it really isn't good for bows to be sat upon! Especially when you think that one of these bows was $795. Do not break the bows!) And by looking on it, I remember the times when they used bottles; I cherish that time. It's really a complete transformation of purpose -- the form is not changed much, but the use is radically changed.

It's redeeming; much as I have been redeemed. I too am being repurposed; and the purpose is not of my making, but I know that I will have a place in the household of God and I will be loved and maintain an ancient legacy. My form is not changed much (just a little older and plumper) but my use is being radically changed.

Metamorphosis involves a conspicuous and abrupt change -- and we think of physical metamorphoses. A butterfly emerging from a cocoon. But the deep metamorphosis that occurs as we pursue "holiness of heart and life" is so much more significant -- it is an aligning of our will with God's.

What is being repurposed in your life today?

Monday, January 14, 2008

Picture 252 or 4 of 365 -- SpaceShip Rice

This is my rice spaceship. The Loving Husband spent way too much money on it. Basically all it does is cook rice. Lots of rice. I think I've cooked more than 30 cups of rice since Christmas. We've rice pilaf, rice with gravy, rice and Thai stir-fry and many rice balls -- both tuna and peanut butter and pear preserves. I've also ordered 6 different varieties of rice to try out -- 2 different brown rices, black (or forbidden) rice, green bamboo rice and a red rice. The spaceship does cook perfect rice.

And I am discovering the beauty of rice. More than half the population of the world eat this staple every day. Some eat in the order of 400 pounds of rice per person per year -- an average of more than a pound of rice a day. It is life giving. It is a crop borne of water. It may be the only food some people may eat today. In some Asian languages the word 'eating' is synonymous with 'eating rice.' The word rice in Vietnamese said to another person before a meal means "Good Appetite." There are 10,000 varieties of rice available in the world; short, medium and long grained; high gluten, low gluten; brown, yellow, black, white, red -- the same colors as the earth or our skin tones.

Things to think as I eat rice.

(Note: I am slightly bothered by the cost of the spaceship. And amused at the high-tech aspect of it all.)

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Random Announcement Type Posting

BTW, Gordon Atkinson from RealLivePreacher has been in parts far south -- he is in the Dominican Republic helping to install water purification systems at places like the Cure Hospital in Santo Domingo. Go and read. It's fascinating stuff.

John Carney has also done a trip like that -- to Bolivia. It seems that Gordon's trip is shaking out slightly differently. Both of these organizations are incredible. The need for clean water (a thing we take for granted) is so great in all these parts of the world.

Also, things in Second Life are getting very interesting. Sophianne (the Senior Pastor) of the Koinonia Congregational Church has received a very generous grant from the UCC. There are several of us who are going to take leadership -- Sophianne has set a sked. Of course, I don't have it here, but go check it out if you are on Second life. I'm going to be leading the Monday Morning Lectionary study -- 9:00 am SL time, which is Noon EST. This grant will allow guests speakers -- we are hoping for big names.

Sophianne is also in discussion with Day 1 -- they are now an official sponsor of Koinonia and we have received permission to use their podcasts as we would like. I think I will most definitely take advantage of that. So Monday at noon -- Lectionary study group in SL at Koinonia followed by a Day 1 Podcast. See you there!

Picture 251 or 365 (2007) or Picture 3 of 365 (2008)

A couple of weeks later, he's lounging in the sink. But still scared. The "click" of the shutter made him run and hide under the dresser, where he has taken up permanent residence.

Picture 250 or 365 (2007) or Picture 2 of 365 (2008)

SOME detail is visible when he opens an eye. It's a beautiful green eye. But here he's scared and you see some white.

Johnny Cat

I didn't finished Project 365. I'm debating on 1) finishing it (because I HATE to leave things unfinished) or 2) starting over. So this is either Picture 249 or 365 (2007) or Picture 1 of 365 (2008).

This is Johnny Cat. He is the MOST scared-y cat I have ever encountered. This is day one.

Catch up Time

I have cleared room on my hard drive, so now maybe I can import pictures (a thing I haven't been able to do in months.) I had believed that digital would be so much less hassle than film -- and it has, but I don't cull pictures. After a while, it all builds up and either you have to get more hard drive space or take the time to cull. The Loving Husband purchased me a hard drive and more memory for the motherboard at Christmas -- upgrading the internal memory wasn't hard, but there are always complications.... We have a "missing link" -- I need another case for this hard drive so that I can put that hard drive into the computer; and that requires spending more money.... So I wait until we have money.

(watching the disk space ... down from 2.3 gig to 1.5 already. I don't think half of the pictures have imported...)

But I got tired of waiting so I removed hopefully enough pictures off the hard drive to put the new pictures on... And so it goes. An analogy for life, I suppose. A lot of what we do is a sort of shuffling around resources. Let go of these things so that those things can take priority in life. And you think you are all prepared, but then find you have missing links.

(1.3 gig left and 162 pictures left to import...)

I've been thinking about how stress is a result of limited resources and the different flavors of stress.

I distinguish between two different types of stress. First is the everyday stress inherent in our current society, where an individual feels the pressure to conform to the American ideal of a happy, busy family. This usually consists of balancing several different roles in the day: worker, mother (or father), wife, (or husband) housekeeper, gardener, child chauffeur, and runner of errands (bank, post-office, grocery store, drug-store, dry-cleaner, school, karate, soccer field). I am certain that most people could add to this list. We complain that there just are not enough hours in the day and how full our plates are. This is basic every day stress.

Then there are the extraordinary types of stress: this would be the stress that occurs when something else, not on the list, happens. For instance, your tire becomes flat a hundred miles from home or you have a car accident or there is a severe illness – or topping the list, you lose your job or you lose a loved one. When people encounter this type of stress, they tend to say things like “this is sending me over the edge” and “I just don’t think I can cope.”

(814 meg and 60 pictures to import....)

I have encountered both types of stress, both the ordinary day-to-day stress and the extraordinary stress and have noticed something: both types of stress have the same cause. Stress occurs simply when an imbalance between demands on time outreach our resources. Or stated differently, when pressure exceeds our ability to cope. If we can manage our resources and identify and alleviate pressure points, we can begin to manage stress. Additionally, stress management cannot happen with just one portion of a family system: all parties must be involved. The stress does not come about in a vacuum thus the solution to the stress will not either.

(Time to go to finder and erase something ... brb.)

I think at times all you can do it try to manage the stress. Balance resources and need; to do this well, you have to prioritize. HAVE TO.

(Ah, almost finished. All of 20 meg left. Need to erase scratch files.)

I have two active children, I have been in the recent past a student and I work part time at a church. My husband works outside the home, as well. My children are engaged in many extra-curricular activities that include Girl Scouts, multiple music lessons, karate, choir and church. My husband is involved with a small group study, he is in a bowling league, he takes karate lessons, he is involved with ham radio and we own an airplane. One of the first ways I manage stress levels is to keep a detailed calendar on the kitchen door so that everyone knows the daily schedule. We place all activities on this calendar. In this manner, we can help one another manage expectations and reduce basic anxiety. An integral part of this system is a regular “check-up” to make sure that we are not being stressed overly much. If we are, then an activity will be dropped. Good time management is key to helping one another deal with stress.

(All scratch files erased. 1.14 gig left. Good!)

Basic housekeeping is an area where stress can be created. Living in a chaotic house cannot do anything but lend stress to a family system. Finances are a large area where stress can be created. If there is not enough money to last to the end of the month, then stress will ensue. My husband and I have a budget and a long range plan for debt reduction.

(Time to export some pictures to post.)

Individually, I encounter stress. For instance, these (blankety-blank) ordination papers have created quite a bit of stress. Good time management is key. I have in the past kept either a spreadsheet or calendar with all the due dates for various and sundry in red ink. In retrospect, I could have done that with these papers, but instead set aside a certain amount of time daily to write these papers. When my time was up, I would close the document and set it aside for the next day. Abiding with these types of decisions also reduces stress. I also am dedicated to having an hour to an hour and a half of prayer and meditation time every morning. This time helps ground me and keeps me centered.

Multitasking and good planning help reduce stress. Having the laundry machines going at the same time I'm writing is good time management. There are things that require a lot of attention and processes that will go on without you. Then there is need for just plain "slack time" -- time to think and dream and sing silly songs and dance silly dances.

(Time to back stuff up on CD. Pop CD in and Burn while writing blog post.)

There are times I have encountered extraordinary stress. At those times, I try to remember to lean into my support systems: my family, my friends, my home church, my online communities. There is wisdom in knowing when you cannot go it alone. Times of extraordinary stress are an example of that.

(Finished! Time to post pictures!)

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Enjoying the Calm.

I'm enjoying the calm right now. No papers to write, no presents to buy or decorations to hang. Just the ordinary stresses of life -- laundry, dirty dishes and floors that need to be swept.

I would have loved to have a "pajama day" with the kids, but school is in session. How come after Christmas break, I need a break? (I know, it goes with the job.) There is just something soothing about the normal routine. Get the kids off to school, then I get coffee or hot tea, do some spiritual exercises at 9:00, prayer around 9:30, meditate on something or another at 10:00. Pet the cat, light a candle. Nice and warm and fuzzy. The silence is soothing; so is the "activity" (even if it isn't very "active.")

I've never really blogged about my prayer life; it's something I hold very close and I really don't talk about much, but I have had a couple of people ask so here it is.

I try to use a centering prayer, based on something like the Lectio Divina. I've practiced deep prayer methods for so long, that they come very easily to me most of the time. At times of deep distress it's not so easy; the practice of prayer when you are NOT in deep distress will strengthen your prayer life so that when you are deeply distressed, prayer is easier.

I find it doesn't take the effort to enter into a deep prayer now-a-days as it did several years ago. Contemplative prayer does not come easily to our society. We are so used to filling ourselves up with things -- information or food or whatever. However contemplative prayer is more about emptying ourselves.

I start with some sort of Word. It can be a long section of scripture or short or it can be a poem or a song. A particular favorite from the Hebrew Scriptures is Ecclesiastes and from the New Testament are the books of John and Romans. I hold the verse in my mind and repeat it a couple of times, waiting for a phase of word to "pop out" (lack of a better term) at me. I take that Word or phrase as an "action" from God. (Words really do fail at this.) I hold that Word and yield to that Word. It becomes the Word for the rest of the morning and then I stop thinking for a while. If I think of another Word, it's like starting over -- and I've failed to stop thinking. But it happens and if it happens then it's important to pay attention to where I wander. I just sit and breathe with my eyes closed thinking of the word. Sometimes I can just bring my thoughts back to the Word.

After a while I will begin to itch or tighten up in places. I will get a compulsion to move -- but I don't. I just sit and relax all my muscles and breathe. After the prayer time is finished, I will open my eyes and sit in silence for a while. I will then think and pray for people or places that have been laying heavy on my heart.

So that's it. I'm sure that I have made it as clear as mud, but it's not a thing you can describe with words -- you have to do it for it to make sense. And it took me a long time to figure it out. I also will use visualizations at time and build "schemes" to hold prayer, but that discussion is for another time....

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Over. Done. Finished.

The ordination papers are all turned in. The checklist has been checked. And I am done with that step. Now for the ordination interviews in March...

But first, I have a sick child who needs to be picked up at school. I think it's time to lay around in bed with the kid, eat Popsicles (not in bed, though -- gets sticky) and watch movies on TV. Whilst snuggling with the new kitty, Johnny Cat, Cat in Black. We will sing the Johnny Cat song...

I hear the cat a comin'
It's comin' 'round the bend,
And I ain't seen the sunshine,
Since, I don't know when,
I'm stuck in Bedroom Prison,
And time keeps draggin' on,
But that cat keeps a-rollin',
On down to San Antone.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Still working on ordination papers....

Tick, Tick, Tick....

25 hours and 43 minutes left before they are due. They are mostly finished except for the last read through, the last proofing. I have a couple of footnotes to fix, I have some headings to add. I have a little bit of the Bible Study to polish, but they are mostly finished.

Tonight I will print them out and put them in a big envelope to take to the Conference offices tomorrow. It's approximately 148 pieces of paper that I will print out tonight (oops, maybe more. I forgot about the autobiographical statement). I'll put them in the envelope along with 9 DVDs, one CD and two sealed envelopes containing reference letters. I also have the medical report and biographical sheet in the envelope. All the other stuff is hopefully at the Conference office. I think I'll actually make the deadline! yeah!

Saturday, January 05, 2008