Saturday, August 30, 2008

Things I've Learned About Mold

  • Mold is nasty nasty stuff.
  • To continue cleaning at the LH's grandparent's house, I've got to get very good masks. If there is air leaking around the sides of the mask, then it's no good for this purpose.
  • Other safety precautions: latex gloves and long sleeves. Immediately after getting home, wash all clothing throughly and shower.
  • We've contaminated our vacuum cleaner to the point that I can't use it in my house anymore. For my own safety, I've got to get a new vacuum cleaner.
  • We probably have brought mold spores from that house to this house with all the stuff we've brought home. To make sure it doesn't become MORE mold, we have to keep the humidity down to below 55%.
  • To get rid of mold, ammonia or bleach, hot water on those things that can be washed, sunshine and freezing. UV will break down the mold spores, as well freezing for a while. This may save some of the things that cannot be washed in the washing machine or dishwasher.
  • Some things cannot be saved -- I've just got to give that up.
  • Airing the bed out is actually good. If you make the bed up too soon after getting up, you trap moisture in the bedding and nasties can grow. Here's a good case for NOT making the bed up until the afternoon.
  • Mold (not house dust) is responsible for 93% of all sinus infections (Mayo Clinic, 1999).
  • This repeated getting sick and going on antibiotics is ruining my immune system. (Twice in a month, at least 3 times in the last 3 months.)
  • Cardboard boxes retain an incredible amount of moisture. Use plastic, when possible.
  • I gave away my old fashioned cold-air humidifier -- it's better to use a vaporizer that will kill the mold and it's easier to clean.

Shout Out for a Friend

This is absolutely beautiful.

Go visit and give her some feedback!

Friday, August 29, 2008

Food for Thought

Lots of press off of Adam Hamilton's Big Church Convention in Atlanta this week. It certainly is interesting stuff; it's encouraging and exciting. I've been a part of a big church; I've been a part of little church; I actually enjoy both and have been blessed by both.

I live in the "Land of the Mega-churches" -- Atlanta has a nice big share of them. I've often wondered if it is a result of the explosive population growth in the North Georgia Area. Sometimes Mega-churches are just lumped together in a one really big box, but the truth is each seems to have it's own flavor. The ones in my personal experience really are ALL different. The each have their own emphasis, their own ways of doing things and their own maximum size. I have found that for the large majority of them, money is not a huge issue (I think we all have the stereotype of the Mega-church begging for money.) I also have found that there are groups within the Mega-church who have very high expectations and a very developed sense of spirituality. I have worked at a baby Mega-church and have found it to be more like a cooperative collection of small groups; each of which I would call "church."

There are others reflecting about this today:
There is a cautionary tale here as well. It seem to me that the Mega-churches that are associated with a larger denomination (like the UMC) tend to stay on track better than those that are non-denominational. You don't have to look far in Atlanta to find (for instance) a lot of angst about Chapel Hill Harvester (or at least that is what it USED to be called) and Earl Paulk. The larger denominational structure allow for accountability. It's also surprising for most people to realize that the majority of Mega-churches are indeed associated with a mainline denomination (I think you can look this up at Hartford Seminary's Facts On File website.)

But on a personal note, I will say this -- if it was a convention about small churches, I'd feel the urge to defend the larger church model -- that said; the press makes me want to defend smaller churches. A LOT of good comes from smaller churches. I have an urge to defend small church. It's a part of my personality to always defend the underdog.

It does makes me think of some questions:
  • What exactly is church?
  • Is the true apostolic model of a church a House Church?
  • Should we spend our money on buildings and possessions as long as there are places we can use the money in mission?
  • Is evangelism just getting more people in the pews? Getting more young people to go into the ministry?
Please let us not use rhetoric that devalues the work of small congregations and of older pastors. Let us remember our heritage and the current workers of the fields and celebrate just a little what they are doing as well.

Edited: I want to spend more time talking about effectiveness, integrity and intentionality than size. Mega-churches in Atlanta work; mega-churches outside of Atlanta may not work that well. There are so many different factors -- I think a better question to ask about a church is about it's health -- is it healthy? Some churches are going to be Mastiffs and Great Danes; some churches are going to be tea-cup poodles or 3 pound chihuahuas. Each size of church is going to have different health issues -- but isn't it all about the effectiveness and the wellness of the church that really matters?

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Toward Sunday

From that time on, Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and undergo great suffering at the hands of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, "God forbid it, Lord! This must never happen to you." But he turned and said to Peter, "Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; for you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things." Then Jesus told his disciples, "If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it.For what will it profit them if they gain the whole world but forfeit their life? Or what will they give in return for their life?

"For the Son of Man is to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay everyone for what has been done. Truly I tell you, there are some standing here who will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom."

The parallels to our text are Mark 8:31-9:1 and Luke 9:22-27.

From the Depths of the Internet, an email that makes its way around:
A man came home from work late, tired and irritated, to find his 5-year old son waiting for him at the door. SON: "Daddy, may I ask you a question?" DAD: "Yeah sure, what it is?" replied the man. SON: "Daddy, how much do you make an hour?" DAD: "That's none of your business. Why do you ask such a thing?" the man said angrily. SON: "I just want to know. Please tell me, how much do you make an hour?" DAD: "If you must know, I make $50 an hour." SON: "Oh," the little boy replied, with his head down. SON: "Daddy, may I please borrow $25?" The father was furious, "If the only reason you asked that is so you can borrow some money to buy a silly toy or some other nonsense, then you march yourself straight to your room and go to bed. Think about why you are being so selfish. I don't work hard everyday for such childish frivolities." The little boy quietly went to his room and shut the door. The man sat down and started to get even angrier about the little boy's questions. How dare he ask such questions only to get some money? After about an hour or so, the man had calmed down, and started to think: Maybe there was something he really needed to buy with that $25.00 and he really didn't ask for money very often. The man went to the door of the little boy's room and opened the door. "Are you asleep, son?" He asked. "No daddy, I'm awake," replied the boy. "I'v e been thinking, maybe I was too hard on you earlier" said the man. "It's been a long day and I took out my aggravation on you. Here's the $25 you asked for." The little boy sat straight up, smiling. "Oh, thank you daddy!" He yelled. Then, reaching under his pillow he pulled out some crumpled up bills. The man saw that the boy already had money, started to get angry again. The little boy slowly counted out his money, and then looked up at his father. "Why do you want more money if you already have some?" the father grumbled. Because I didn't have enough, but now I do," the little boy replied. "Daddy, I have $50 now. Can I buy an hour of your time? Please come home early tomorrow. I would like to have dinner with you." The father was crushed. He put his arms around his little son, and he begged for his forgiveness. It's just a short reminder to all of you working so hard in life. We should not let time slip through our fingers without having spent some time with those who really matter to us, those close to our hearts. Do remember to share that $50 worth of your time with someone you love. If we die tomorrow, the company that we are working for could easily replace us in a matter of hours. But the family & friends we leave behind will feel the loss for the rest of their lives. "The human spirit is never finished when it is is finished when it surrenders." "When you know what you want, and you want it bad enough, you will find a way to get it." See it > Be it > Do it !!!!

Matthew 16:21-28
1) Jesus is teaching his disciples about what is going to happen.
  • His message to his disciples is changing -- he's not talking about how to live or how to approach the kingdom, but how he is going to suffer and die.
  • He had begun to "set his face toward Jerusalem" as it says in Luke -- he knew what was bound to happen.
  • Jerusalem is the place where prophets are taken traditionally to be put to death by the religious authorities (Matthew 23:37 and 2 Chronicles 24:20-22)
  • He wanted (out of compassion) to prepare his disciples for this great suffering. Does knowing about the suffering lessen it? Can we really prepare for this?
2) Peter can't stand it and rebukes Jesus
  • Peter knows that Jesus is the Messiah -- and Jesus gave to Peter the keys to the Kingdom.
  • But he just can't deal with the fact that Jesus is going to die.
  • He cries out "Never! Never!" -- God forbid it!
  • Peter only want the grace and the glory of Christ's coming; he cannot bear the thought of the cross
3) Jesus lashes back at Peter saying, "Get behind me Satan."
  • To Jesus, this must seem like a continuation of Satan's temptation in the desert -- just as he tempted Jesus to use his power and authority wrongly in the desert, Peter's concern is just as much of a stumbling block.
4) Jesus talks about priorities -- how we must take up our cross and follow -- how it profits us little to gain the world but lose our soul.
  • We are to love God with all our heart, soul and strength -- how? and what does that look like?
  • Heart -- deny self.
  • Soul -- give your life.
  • Might/Strength -- give up the world's possessions and take up real treasure
5) For Jesus will come back again -- and will repay for what you have done.
6) and some will not taste death....

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Well, it HAS been raining hard

more animals

But not too hard. We do appreciate the rain. It seems so very very long since we have had a real gully-washer. Fay was good to Georgia (for the most part). We have survived the Tornado drill for two nights in a row (Mommy! We are going to DIE) and even though we have some sleep deprivation right now, I do so appreciate the rain. I hope we get more.

Calling all Methobloggers

I want to go to the 2009 Congress on Evanglism. Bishop Schnase's book is being used as the framework (5 Fruitful Practices) and I would love to have a group dinner with him either before or after the event with all us Methoblogger.

Who is game?

I also want either a person to ride with me from Atlanta and/or a hotel roommate.


Morning Prayer - Psalm 139

Psalm 139
7 Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?

8 If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, [a] you are there.

9 If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,

10 even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.

11 If I say, "Surely the darkness will hide me
and the light become night around me,"

12 even the darkness will not be dark to you;
the night will shine like the day,
for darkness is as light to you.

*edited: this is Psalm 139 not Psalm 130, as MMM pointed out in the comments. Cough Syrup does that to me. At least I was only 9 away! Or is that 8? Or does it matter? None the less, I fixed it.

I have a bad cold AGAIN

Rather, it's more like bronchitis. I'm on antibiotics AGAIN. I think it's being triggered by all the moldy, musty stuff in my LH's grandparent's house (which we are slowly cleaning out.)

We can't stop cleaning out the house -- it has to be done, but I think I will start doing a few things differently.
  • I am going to wear a N-95 mask from now on.
  • Instead of using a normal vacuum cleaner, we need to get a HEPA vacuum cleaner.
  • We need to get air purifiers to run continuously.
  • Anything taken out of the house has to be cleaned and set in the sun for a nice long time to kill the mold spores.
We are approaching the end of this process. We need to have an estate sale soon but we need to make sure that the house is clean and smells OK. I think the HEPA vacuum cleaner will help out bunches.

Just thinking out loud... and now it's time for cough syrup, orange juice and bed.

edited: I sure have weird dreams when I'm on cough syrup and what not. I dreamt that a very old friend (I'll call him R) was investigating the disappearance of some of our students. We were in a very large urban building with sidewalks outside and large open spaces (dark) in the basement. For some reason, we were investigating the basement and I had to crawl over a big ladder laid on its side that had chunks of rotting material hanging off of it -- that right, it was over a large open space that was very dark and had punctuations of light. I looked down through the rips of cloth and saw were all the bodies ended up -- in a large radioactive cobalt pool that glowed blue. It been hidden all this time and it turned out that R (my friend) was a serial killer and ... I was going to be next. So I pushed him off into the radioactive cobalt swimming pool and he died. The end. Maybe I watch too much Star Trek and Law and Order.
edited again: OK, I know that somehow I am each of the people in my dreams... so does that mean that I've killed a part of myself? Does that mean that I feel that I've been killed before by another agent and I WAS powerless, but not any longer? Dreams are strange things.
My lymph nodes are swollen again. Maybe I just got exposed to the dust/mold stuff way too early after Cat-Scratch Fever. Who knows. I'm going to bed.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Geekiness with Rosaries

I just read this posting from John Hamilton talking about rosaries.

I will admit -- I'm a little of a geek about all sorts of stuff. I actually can be a rosary geek. I made my own rosary years ago — I used plain beads for a while, but then did an Anglican rosary — I used 5 gold and silver “rose” beads, 4 freshwater pearls and then 24 beads; each one different. I used the 12 gems listed in Exodus 28 for the Breastplate of Judgement and the 12 gemstones listed in Revelation 21 for the foundation stones of the New Jerusalem. (or approximations of these stones.) This makes 33 stones that represent the 33 years of Christ’s life. I put a rose bead, three gemstones, a pearl, three gemstones, a rose bead, three gemstones, a pearl and so forth. There is a rose bead at the beginning and the end. The gold and silver remind me of the song, “Lord, you are more precious than silver… more costly than gold” among other things. The pearls remind me of the “pearl of great price” in the discourse about the kingdom in Matthew (13?).

Since I have a tool that allows me to place a knot between each bead, I made a large “bracelet” out of the beads. I hung three things between the beginning and ending rose beads — a Roman Coin from around the time of Constantine, a crucifix and a Dove (Holy Spirit) medal.

I think I’ll post a picture….

Thinking about the Text

Matthew 16:21-28

From that time on, Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and undergo great suffering at the hands of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, "God forbid it, Lord! This must never happen to you." But he turned and said to Peter, "Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; for you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things." Then Jesus told his disciples, "If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it.For what will it profit them if they gain the whole world but forfeit their life? Or what will they give in return for their life?

"For the Son of Man is to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay everyone for what has been done. Truly I tell you, there are some standing here who will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom."

I do believe that I am going to concentrate on the bit of the text in bold and concentrate on priorities -- what will it profit us to gain the best career in the world but forfeit our life? What will it profit us to gain the best schooling in the world but forfeit our life? What will it profit us to gain loads of money in this world but forfeit our life?

Friday, August 22, 2008


  • I've been watching the Olympics (like millions of others.) Chaos had a question: how come they never seem to show the sports WE want to watch (that would be Tae Kwon Do sparring.) I suppose it's because the Americans took two bronze and a silver. Only gold medals seem to get the prime-time.
  • Tonight is another belt-test. I haven't been to karate like I should be for the past month. I've Cat Scratch Fever (no, not the song!) -- it's been hard to shake. I'm much better now. I never knew that adults could even get this disease. Thank you, Johnny Cat.
  • Chaos has had medical problems as well this month. When it rains, it pours.
  • Perhaps we should take this as a sign to slow down. I just haven't been able to whack all the moles this month (you know the game -- Whack a Mole.) I've started out several times in the last couple of weeks and not complete all the errands. I have a basket of shoes in the living room that need to be taken to the shoe repair store (the one where the lady always tries to charge me in yen....) I have laundry to do and dry cleaning to drop off. I have boxes to recycle and Goodwill stuff to donate. I have put off doctor stuff until "urgent" has turned into "super-duper extra urgent."

There are times in our lives where it seems like we have a huge task -- that we are supposed to use just our two hands to keep all the bobbing corks submerged in our own personal bucket -- and at times we can succeed and at times there are just too many corks bobbing around. We think we have to choose which corks to keep submerged and which to just let go. Then I begin to realize that this is bad theology. We don't do it all alone. We have our families and we are in community -- I'm not going to mis-quote 1 Corinthians 10:13 and say that "God won't give you anything you can't handle!" That's not what the verse says. In face we need to pick it up at verse 11:
These are all warning markers—danger!—in our history books, written down so that we don't repeat their mistakes. Our positions in the story are parallel—they at the beginning, we at the end—and we are just as capable of messing it up as they were. Don't be so naive and self-confident. You're not exempt. You could fall flat on your face as easily as anyone else. Forget about self-confidence; it's useless. Cultivate God-confidence. No test or temptation that comes your way is beyond the course of what others have had to face. All you need to remember is that God will never let you down; he'll never let you be pushed past your limit; he'll always be there to help you come through it. (The Message)
We will never be tempted beyond our limits -- not that we won't get things that we can't handle alone. The fact of the matter is 1) we ARE given things that we can't handle alone and 2) we are never truly ever alone. My personal cork bucket is not in isolation -- it's connected to my husband's cork bucket which is connected to other cork buckets -- we are all in this together. We have our community -- our family, our friends and our church family. We have God; even when it appears that God is silent and inactive, God is with us. God is always with us.

"No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main. If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less ... Any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind ..." John Donne

Thursday, August 21, 2008

The Shack

I received an advance copy of The Shack a while back and honestly never felt compelled to blog about it. If you are not familiar with The Shack, it's a novel that tries to be theology or a theology book disguised as a novel -- I can't decide which. The protagonist Mackenzie's daughter is brutally murdered in a shack off in the Northwest wilderness. Four years later, while he is experiencing his "Great Sadness", he receives a letter from "Papa" -- which happens to be his wife's pet name for God -- asking him to meet him at the shack. There Mack meets the trinity -- a big black woman, a Jewish carpenter and a small Asian woman. He comes to deal with his grief, getting to know God through his pain.

There are a few things about this book: first, I had a hard time picking it up to begin with. I've experienced enough pain that this seemed more like sticking my tongue over and over again into a drilled out tooth -- why on earth would one do that? The suffering and pain seemed so ... inevitable. When I realized what was happening, I actually put the book down and walked away for a while. After all, knowing the plot of Schindler's List, I have never ever felt compelled to watch the movie. Why on earth would I?

Well, once I got over that and picked it up again, I read it through. To me it seemed contrived. The theology was occasionally off the beaten path. Not horribly, but enough to make me squirm a little. I am sure that there are others who will be very offended by it. There is an implied assumption that to know God, you have to suffer. Is this really so?

I understand that William Young is wanting to stretch our concepts of God (I actually have portrayed "God the Father" by a "Big Angry Black Woman" myself...) but I see it as just exchanging one set of boxes that we've put God into for another and slightly "more modern" set. I didn't find myself transformed instantly by this book -- I didn't find myself incredibly enlightened. I found the book heavy -- in the same manner a plate of Bangers and Mash can be heavy. It's not bad, it's just dense and my stomach isn't used to it.

I find the brouhaha about the book puzzling. It resembles the brouhaha around "The Celestine Prophesy." This is not a miracle cure. It's not a complete analogy to modern life and suffering. It's thought provoking, yes, but it is not the panacea for all that ails you.

Actually, if it weren't for the brouhaha I would not be writing this review....

Wesley Movie Trailer

Found here.

An interesting concept. Time will tell if it's OK -- or more like community theatre. I would have wished that the people who did "Amazing Grace" or "Luther" would have produced it....

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

History of Keys

The oldest known lock (estimated at 4000 years old) was found in the Khorsabad palace ruins near Nineveh. It works much like a modern pin tumbler lock, but made of wood. There were several wooden pegs that operated like the modern metal pins. They were held in place with a large wooden bolt. The key to this huge lock would have been huge itself.

Locks and keys are mentioned in the Old Testament. Keys represented authority, security, and power. The delivery of keys to King in a castle after it was defeated was a ritualized ceremony and is probably the fore-runner to the modern Key to the City ceremony that we practice now. Keys were a status symbol; a sign of authority. In ancient Egypt, the heads of household owned slaves whose purpose was to carry a man's keys. If he has several of these slaves, he was considered to be a man of great power and wealth. So the lock and key are seen as very prestigious -- a representation of power and authority. Keys imply that you possess something of great value -- something that others might want or covet.

Keys can represent all forces that open and close, bind and release, liberate or incarcerate.

Interesting website here on the history of keys.

News for the MacBook owners among you.

Apple Offers Free Magsafe Replacements

A few Thoughts

Parallels: Mark 8:27-33 and Luke 9:18-22.

Son of Man -- Dan 7:13
"In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence. (NIV)

Peter/Rock -- Greek Petros/Petra -- a play on words. Interestingly enough, it works in Aramaic as well. “You are Kepha [or Cephas], and upon this kepha [rock] I will build ...”

This passage has long been used as the basis for Papal authority. Can that be ignored? Should it be ignored?

Seems to me there are two keys being offered to Peter, the rock. The key to bind; the key to loosen. The key to not forgive; the key to forgive. Interesting thought, that we as the church might NOT forgive. God hold ultimate forgiveness; do we hold the keys for that kind of salvation? Or is it that we need to practice what Dr. Laura would call "tough love" -- not letting people "get away" with their bad behavior. Holding them responsible for their actions.

Flow of the scripture:
Who am I? -- the Messiah
Good Answer! -- You now are my Rock!
Here are the Keys -- I'm going to build my church on you/on this
What are they keys for? -- to bind and to loosen

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Tuesday Bullets and More About Hospitality

  • Yesterday was one of those "chase your own tail" kind of days. Doctor appointment that went very long, making me late to pick up Chaos for her cello lesson, rushing around, getting to the lesson late -- and the new instructor doesn't show up. Kate needs the lesson because...
  • She is auditioning for an honors orchestra the Saturday after Labor Day. She has the music and so we just need to get her enough time to practice and some tutoring. This is the first level of auditions this year; All State is next.
  • She's removed the last "tape" from her fingerboard; it's like training wheels for the cello. She probably doesn't need it -- she's dependent on it, though. One step at a time.
  • This week should be better than last week, schedule-wise. We are gradually getting used to getting up at o-dark-thirty. It's a matter of just making sure there is enough time for everything to get done.
  • Still, it's hard to get used to 5:30 am almost every single day (except Saturday).
  • I like the girls having their own cell phone. I will talk to them as they are at the bus stop. It's a compromise -- that way I know for my own peace of mind that they are OK and they don't have me physically hovering.
  • I'm thinking about hospitality this week (more) and how it intersects with the Keys of the Kingdom. I want to do two sermon series this Autumn -- or maybe what would be better would be just linking each sermon to one or more of the themes in the 5 Faithful Practices. This week -- I'm still thinking about hospitality. Wikipedia:
    • Hospitality refers to the relationship process between a guest and a host
    • For an in depth understanding of the term of hospitality, the starting point is the etymology of the word itself. The word hospitality derives from the Latin hospes, which is formed from hostis, which originally meant a 'stranger' and came to take on the meaning of the enemy or 'hostile stranger' (hostilis) + pets (polis, poles, potentia) to have power. Furthermore, the word hostire means equilize/compensate. If you combined the above etymological analysis with the story of Telemachus and Nestor you can develop in your mind the Greek concept of sacred hospitality.
  • Hospes is the root word for many different English words: Hospitality, Hotel, Hostel, Hospital, Hospice.
  • My friend Sophianne named her island on Second Life Xenia, which is the Greek word for sacred hospitality. From Wikipedia: There are a few basic rules; "The respect from host to guest, the respect from guest to host, and the parting gift from host to guest. The host must be hospitable to the guest and provide him with food and drink and a bath, if required. It is not polite to ask questions until the guest has stated his needs. The guest must be courteous to his host and not be a burden. The parting gift is to show the host's honor at receiving the guest."
  • Interesting thing: Hospes means both guest and host. We get stuck with a single meaning in English, but Hospes is a reciprocal relationship -- it not only means the respect from host TO guest but also the respect FROM guest to host. I suppose you can't have a host without having a guest; each are necessary for the relationship to exist.
  • Jesus was born here on earth; if we see his incarnation as a "visitation" from God to earth, we can see how Jesus is on one hand a guest here on earth, here to receive our honor/hospitality/respect and on the other hand to give to us -- the very keys of salvation. (The Hospitality of God: A Reading of Luke's Gospel By Brendan Byrne Published by Liturgical Press, 2000, p. 4)
  • More later.

Monday, August 18, 2008

This is So Like Johnny Cat

more cat pictures

And the LH even has shorts like this.....

Matthew 16:13-20, The Message

13 When Jesus arrived in the villages of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, "What are people saying about who the Son of Man is?"

14 They replied, "Some think he is John the Baptizer, some say Elijah, some Jeremiah or one of the other prophets." 15He pressed them, "And how about you? Who do you say I am?" 16 Simon Peter said, "You're the Christ, the Messiah, the Son of the living God." 17-18 Jesus came back, "God bless you, Simon, son of Jonah! You didn't get that answer out of books or from teachers. My Father in heaven, God himself, let you in on this secret of who I really am. And now I'm going to tell you who you are, really are. You are Peter, a rock. This is the rock on which I will put together my church, a church so expansive with energy that not even the gates of hell will be able to keep it out. 19 "And that's not all. You will have complete and free access to God's kingdom, keys to open any and every door: no more barriers between heaven and earth, earth and heaven. A yes on earth is yes in heaven. A no on earth is no in heaven." 20 He swore the disciples to secrecy. He made them promise they would tell no one that he was the Messiah.

Verse 19 might said to be "key" to this scripture. (Groan now, yeah that was awful).
I have keys to the church (not exactly as Jesus might have imagined) -- a huge bunch of keys that I have inherited from all the previous pastors. I was told that there are only about 3 that are really important at either church. That would leave about 14 that I don't know what exactly they unlock....

We all carry keys. I got the kids new house keys this year because the old keys disappeared into "house key heaven" (that's next to "odd sock heaven" for those who like to be informed) -- hopefully this set will last. I have keys on my big keyring -- the most of which are the keys to the church, but also a few other keys. I have my house key, my car key, my husband's car key. I have the keys to two other cars that I've been test-driving for the last couple of weeks. I have a key to our travel trailer -- and a key to the airplane. Shelter and transportation. Important things. I do need to get around all day long and I do need a place to lay my head at night.

What other keys might we have on our key chain? Some of us have keys for our work. Some of us have keys for pleasure (like my trailer key). Personally, the LH once told me that I have the key to his heart -- isn't that romantic? We use keys for entry, for access. We also use the word "key" in a variety of different ways -- some of us might have the key to success. Do you have that? That sounds like a good key to have -- some of us have had presented to us the key to the city -- that's nice too. Sometimes we get the key to understanding something -- sometimes we get the key to happiness -- those would be good to have as well.

What Jesus is offering here to Peter, the rock, is something very valuable. Peter is being given the keys to the kingdom of God.

What might those keys be? More to ponder tomorrow.....

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Wesley, Translated.

Original (from the Primitive Physick):
1. The air we breathe is of great consequence to our health. Those who have been long abroad in easterly or northerly winds should drink some warm pepper tea on going to bed, or a draught of toast and water.
2. Tender people should have those who lie with them, or are much about them, sound, sweet, and healthy.
3. Everyone that would preserve health should be as clean and sweet as possible in their houses, clothes, and furniture.

1. Th' air we breathe be o' great consequence t' our health. Them who ben long abroad in easterly or northerly winds ortin' ta drink some warm pepper grog on goin' t' bunk, or a draught o' toast an' water.
2. Tender swabbies ortin' ta be havin' them who lie wi' them, or be much about them, sound, sweet, an' healthy.
3. Sea dogs an' land lubbers that would preserve health ortin' ta be as clist an' sweet as possible in the'r houses, clothes, an' furniture.

Aye, jus' as I thought. Wesley be a pirate.

Now That It's All Over and Done With

I have come up with the perfect sermon title:

Canaan's Canines.

*note: I googled this. Someone else thought of it too. Ah, well. Great minds and all that.

Tees for DOG and GOD
Canaan's Dog
CANINES TO CANAAN: The Story of Some Forgotten Four-Footed Pioneers


In other silliness:
What would a Bible story sound like told by a pirate?

Walkin' on th' Water
As soon as th' meal be finished, he insisted that th' disciples get in th' boat an' go on ahead t' th' other side while he dismissed th' swabbies. Wi' th' crowd dispersed, he climbed th' mountain so he could be by hisself an' pray. He stayed thar alone, late into th' night.
Meanwhile, th' boat be far ou' t' sea when th' wind came up against them an' they be battered by th' waves. At about four o'clock in th' mornin', Jesus came toward them walkin' on th' water. They be lily livered ou' o' the'r wits. "A ghost!" they spake, cryin' ou' in terror.
But Jesus be quick t' comfort them. "Courage, 'tis me. Dasn't be lily livered."
Peter, suddenly bold, spake, "Master, if 'tis really ye, call me t' come t' ye on th' water."
He spake, "Come ahead."
Jumpin' ou' o' th' boat, Peter keel hauled on th' water t' Jesus. But when he looked down at th' waves churnin' beneath his feet, he lost his nerve an' started t' sink. He cried, "Master, save me!"
Jesus didna hesitate. He reached down an' grabbed his hand. Then he spake, "Faint-heart, what got into ye?"
Th' two o' them climbed into th' boat, an' th' wind sank t'Davy Jones' locker down. Th' disciples in th' boat, havin' watched th' whole thin', worshiped Jesus, sayin', "This be 't! Ye be God's Lad fer sure!" On return, they beached th' boat at Gennesaret. When th' swabbies got wind that he be aft, they sent ou' word through th' neighborhood an' rounded up all th' sea sick, who asked fer permission t' touch th' edge o' his coat. An' whoeretouched th' lad's be healed.

Friday, August 15, 2008

An Interesting Exercise Would Be

A comparison of
In Short:
Bishop Schnase's Five Practices of Fruitful Congregations
  • Radical Hospitality
  • Passionate Worship
  • Intentional Faith Development
  • Risk-Taking Mission and Service
  • Extravagant Generosity
Rick Warren's Purpose Driven Life
  • We were planned for God’s pleasure, so your first purpose is to offer real worship.
  • We were formed for God’s family, so your second purpose is to enjoy real fellowship.
  • We were created to become like Christ, so your third purpose is to learn real discipleship.
  • We were shaped for serving God, so your fourth purpose is to practice real ministry.
  • We were made for a mission, so your fifth purpose is to live out real evangelism.
Scott McKnight's Five Streams of the Emerging Church
  • Prophetic Rhetoric
  • Postmodern
  • Praxis-Oriented
    • Intentional Worship
    • Orthopraxy (right living)
    • Missional
  • Post-evangelical
    • Post-systematic Theology
    • In vs. Out
  • Politically Active

Gibb's and Bolger's 9 Core practices
  • 1. Identifying with Jesus (and his way of life)
  • 2. Transforming secular space (overcoming the secular/sacred split)
  • 3. Living as community (not strangers in proximity at a church service)
  • 4. Welcoming the stranger (radical and gentle hospitality that is inclusive)
  • 5. Serving with generosity (not serving the institution called "church," but people)
  • 6. Participating as producers (not widgets in the church program)
  • 7. Creating as created beings (this is a great chapter!)
  • 8. Leading as a body (beyond control and the CEO model of leadership)
  • 9. Merging ancient and contemporary spiritualities.
John Wesley's Holiness of Heart and Life
  • Deepen your Christian walk in word and deed.
  • Follow John Wesley's disciplines of prayer, Bible study, and fasting.
  • Discover the roots of mission, spirituality, and justice.
  • Act with Wesley on issues of poverty, slavery, substance abuse, education of children, women's leadership.

I don't think it's so odd that these lists have strong similarities. After all, we all follow the teachings of Jesus Christ. I do find it interesting that there are tensions -- there are places were some of us are comfortable; and places some of us are not. For instance, I am not very political yet I am very sharply attuned to issues of social justice; I just don't express them politically. Some people are very political and have no problems expressing themselves that way.

Another difference: Some deal more with the structure, some with the individual. I tend to deal with the individual; I believe in building a church by making each of the building blocks (the members of that church) as strong as possible. I do have a "big picture" in mind -- I just tend to focus on the blocks rather than the over-arching design. That makes for a rather "organic" church growth. I strongly believe that is the way Jesus would want me to do it -- he also tended to deal with people and relationships rather than large group structures. However, there are those who would examine the design of the entire structure first and then attend to the building blocks. Which is the better way? Can it be that BOTH ways are needed?

Some believe one way and others believe otherwise -- different strokes for different folks. Wesley believed in true spiritual worship -- that worship is the origin of all that we need to gain. It begins with the means of grace and it begins with prayer: The chief of these means are prayer, whether in secret or with the great congregation; searching the Scriptures (which implies reading, hearing, and meditating thereon); and receiving the Lord's Supper, eating bread and drinking wine in remembrance of Him: And these we believe to be ordained of God, as the ordinary channels of conveying his grace to the souls of men. (Sermon 16, The Means of Grace.) Prayer in the great congregation and Lord's Supper are done in corporate worship. He says also:
You cannot find your long-sought happiness in all the pleasures of the world. Are they not "deceitful upon the weights?" Are they not lighter than vanity itself? How long will ye "feed upon that which is not bread?" -- which may amuse, but cannot satisfy? You cannot find it in the religion of the world; either in opinions or a mere round of outward duties. Vain labour! Is not God a spirit, and therefore to be "worshipped in spirit and in truth?" In this alone can you find the happiness you seek; in the union of your spirit with the Father of spirits; in the knowledge and love of Him who is the fountain of happiness, sufficient for all the souls he has made. (Sermon 77, Spiritual Worship)
I tend to agree with Rev. Wesley. For me, it's all about true and intentional worship of God -- both individual and corporate. This is my personal beginning spot; my origin. For others, it's different. I find it interesting that Bishop Schnase starts with Radical Hospitality -- greeting the stranger to dwell among us. Interesting too that Bishop Schnase self-identifies as an Introvert and I as an Extrovert -- wouldn't you think he would start with Worship and I start with Hospitality, since Worship seems more of an introverted activity and Hospitality more of an extroverted? Perhaps we do not start where we are most comfortable, where we already get our batteries charged; perhaps we start with something we need the most.

Things to ponder on a Friday morning.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

A Message from John Wesley

I have received a letter from Rev. John Wesley, which I will reproduce here.

Dearest and Most Esteemed Readers,

I wish to thank you for your faithfulness and the editors of this humble compendium would like to announce that beginning September 1, 2008 the Journals of John Wesley will begin afresh, with multiple other voices and testimonies added daily so that his modern readers may better understand the world of John Wesley and in particular his trips to the colony of Georgia.

Many fascinating and intriguing pieces information will be interleaved with the Journal of John Wesley including letters from his family, letters of others of the Georgia Colony including James Oglethorpe, along with contemporary and illustrative material and multiple graphics.

I would entertain suggestions on how to best advertise this humble endeavor.

I thank you for your generous and kind attention and may God bless you and keep you.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Faith, Friendship and Fruitfulness -- Bishop Bevel Jones

Bishop Jones has taught me more about being a pastor than just about anyone else. He told me long ago that it's all about relationship; my relationship with Christ and my relationship with my people. He told me that it's all about loving my people -- and that I do.

I love Bishop Jones dearly and I count him among my good friends and mentors. It's so good to see him here sharing his wealth of experience and knowledge with the rest of us.

The full text of the sermon.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Thinking about Radical Hospitality

Yesterday I had to get some house keys made. I really didn't want to go to the huge super duper mega store with the orange sign -- too many people, too many cars in the parking lot. So I went to a smaller hardware store just a little further down the road. It was such a pleasant experience! It is now my very favorite store -- Hill's Ace Hardware -- for two reasons. First is the incredible customer service. My husband claims that if you are in the store more than 30 seconds and someone hasn't asked if they can help you, you better look around because the building will be on fire. The store is clean, neat; the staffing friendly and helpful.

The second reason I love this store is Clyde. Clyde is the hardware store's cat. He's a big fellow and quite friendly. I have to love a store that has a store cat. (Or a store dog, for that matter.) There is just something about having a cat or dog around that says "Welcome."

My second favorite airport had both an airport cat (A.C.) and an airport dog (D.C. (Yes, I know -- the Dog should be A.D. I once asked Jimmy what D.C. stood for. It's "Dog Critter." Of course. Obvious.)) My favorite bookstore ever had a Scottish fold kitty cat that lounged around on the checkout counter. I once tried to order a cat for work by calling it the "Organic Chemically Propelled Pest Control Unit," the cat food "Pelletized Fuel for Organic Chemically Propelled Pest Control Unit" and the cat food bowl "Cylindrical Container for the Pelletized Fuel for the Organic Chemically Propelled Pest Control Unit." Didn't get through the purchasing department because I didn't prove I had pests.... Worth a try, though.

I wonder what church would be like if we greeted everyone that walked in the doors with a handshake and the phrase "Good morning!" and "How can I help you?" Everyone. Not just the people we know (but ask them, too). Everyone. No matter what they looked like or acted like or smelled like or whatever. I am getting better at just saying, "Hello!" to just about anyone and introducing myself. Of course, I'm an mostly an extrovert. For others it might be harder. But I wonder.

I wonder what church would be like if we did have cats and dogs in the church. I wonder what it would be like to have a cat sit in your lap during service or have a dog help out at Sunday School. Or at least, a cat in the church office. I wonder what it would be like if dogs did roam in the sanctuary, looking for crumbs under the communion table. I do wonder.

Bullets for Tuesday
  • I'm thinking about the word Radical today. In Bishop Job's book this morning I noticed him using the word 4 or 5 times. I used it once today.
Radical :
Function: adjective
Etymology: Middle English, from Late Latin radicalis, from Latin radic-, radix root — more at root
Date: 14th century
1: of, relating to, or proceeding from a root: as a (1): of or growing from the root of a plant <radical tubers> (2): growing from the base of a stem, from a rootlike stem, or from a stem that does not rise above the ground <radical leaves> b: of, relating to, or constituting a linguistic root c: of or relating to a mathematical root d: designed to remove the root of a disease or all diseased and potentially diseased tissue <radical surgery> <radical mastectomy>
: of or relating to the origin : fundamental
3 a
: marked by a considerable departure from the usual or traditional : extreme b: tending or disposed to make extreme changes in existing views, habits, conditions, or institutions c: of, relating to, or constituting a political group associated with views, practices, and policies of extreme change d: advocating extreme measures to retain or restore a political state of affairs radical right>
4 slang : excellent, cool
  • I have several of Bishop Job's book to give away. I'm going to start today. I have a huge circuit mapped out of people to visit.
  • Little Kitty is not doing very well -- the tooth extraction was hard on her. She's eating ... some -- more than she was so the surgery was a good thing. She's sleeping a lot. I've been loving on her and helping her get on and off the sofa. She's just so very skinny. She will be 20 years old in November. Hard to imagine.
  • I also have some free cycle boxes to pick up on the way. I'm going to burn some gas today.
  • I had to watch Entropy get on the bus the morning -- I had to talk on the cell to Chaos as she stood at the bus stop. Separation anxiety is hard -- at least for the mama.
  • I had to search for my portable communion set. My churches don't have a church office -- so all my office stuff is in Girl Scout cookie boxes in the garage. Well, at least they WERE in the garage; they are now in the kitchen. I want to repack them into something better. I think this is the third time I've had my office stuff in the garage. Maybe I should invest in permanent boxes.
  • I need to go to the Post office, to the gas station (oh boy!), to the grocery store and just get on the road. Later!

Monday, August 11, 2008

Planning for the Fall

I have been reading Bishop Robert Schnase's Blog. He now lists my blog in his sidebar -- I am honored by that. I am reading (again) his book Five Practices of Fruitful Congregations. He has been a pastor and currently is bishop of the Missouri Area of the United Methodist Church. I find it compelling material and much more (shall we say) Methodist than Rick Warren's Purpose Driven material. The parallel between the books is there -- but the lines are indeed parallel and not identical.

I want to use two different books in my two congregations this year: Bishop Job's little book 3 Simple Rules and Five Practices of Fruitful Congregations. I believe that they will indeed build upon each other. The first is an expression of the General Rules of the UMC and the second is an expression of Wesley's acts (or works) of mercy and piety.

Other books I want to read: Paul Nixon’s I Refuse to Lead a Dying Church, Kennon L. Callahan's Small, Strong Congregations.

So what are you reading and what are you planning for this Fall?
Matthew 15:21-28 (The Message)

21-22From there Jesus took a trip to Tyre and Sidon. They had hardly arrived when a Canaanite woman came down from the hills and pleaded, "Mercy, Master, Son of David! My daughter is cruelly afflicted by an evil spirit." 23Jesus ignored her. The disciples came and complained, "Now she's bothering us. Would you please take care of her? She's driving us crazy." 24Jesus refused, telling them, "I've got my hands full dealing with the lost sheep of Israel." 25Then the woman came back to Jesus, went to her knees, and begged. "Master, help me." 26He said, "It's not right to take bread out of children's mouths and throw it to dogs." 27She was quick: "You're right, Master, but beggar dogs do get scraps from the master's table." 28Jesus gave in. "Oh, woman, your faith is something else. What you want is what you get!" Right then her daughter became well.

If I were left to my own devices, I probably would not choose these passages from Matthew. I like John. I'd preach John -- I'd preach Romans and maybe Ephesians. But mostly I would stick to John.

I like the Jesus in John. Deep and theological.

But this story appeals to me. I can imagine it in my mind. Jesus has gone into Tyre -- not a Jewish town. Perhaps he has going there for some rest; to get away from it all. In chapter 14, he retreated twice to the Mount for prayer. He has been teaching; he has been healing. He has been by the Sea of Galilee but now moves north into lands controlled by the Gentiles. A Canaanite woman comes down from the hills (remember that a Canaanite is a HEATHEN -- even worse than a Samaritan, this is a pagan person, not even a God-fearer.) She starts in with Jesus (not just "pleading" but ekrazen -- screaming.) He basically seems to brush her off, but that might be for show. He even calls her a dog but still she doesn't stop. Persistent. Knowing what she needs and not stopping until she gets it. You might even say -- like a dog with a bone.

What might it mean for us to be that persistent? To keep going after what we need -- to just bug God like this? To demand, to scream at God, even when he seems silent or ignoring us? What might it mean?

Just Yesterday?

I just watched the bus pick up Chaos for her first day of High School. Entropy is still asleep -- her bus doesn't get here until 8:30.

Wasn't it just yesterday we put Chaos on the bus for kindergarten? I just realized it must have been 10 years ago. Where did the time go?

I remember after I put Chaos on the bus 10 years ago, Entropy went around all day saying, "Where's Sissy? Where did she go? Make her come back!"

Sissy is now on her way to High School....

Edited: 9 years ago. Before a good cup of coffee, I can't add! The HS bus was here at 6:40 (dern that is early!) and the Middle School bus was late -- it was here at 8:48. At least I'm up earlier than I have been and have a load of dishes and two loads of laundry done.

It seems to me that parenthood is just a series of ever bigger separations (gender inclusive -- it's more than mommies that feel it). The LH had them "in" his lap yesterday afternoon -- they were so big that they had to sit on the arms of the chair. We both remember being able to carry BOTH of them at the same time up the stairs to put them in bed. I also remember afternoons that seemed to stretch on forever and ever and ever -- and I remember the witching hour around 5:00 in the fall and winter where they would get progressively grumpy. Where did that time go?

The phrase that keeps coming to me "Or ever the silver cord be loosed" -- Eccles 12:21

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Decent Video for TSD Kicho Hyung Il Bu

I think that the way each of the forms is done varies from studio to studio. This guy is as close to what we do as any on YouTube. We will raise our fist up after the low block, but his stance and footwork are pretty much as we were trained.

I find watching a class and watching the videos after I just do class myself educational. I'll also watch before I go -- it just somehow cements the moves into my brain a little better.

This is Hyung Sam Bu -- form number 3. We emphasis the horse stance a little more.

Friday, August 08, 2008

Too Cool! Fresh Star Trek

Star Trek New Voyages!

As I sit here and drool from the anesthetic from the dental work (have I mentioned that I don't like dentists?), Chaos and I are watching these Webisodes.

Chaos says things like, "You can't be serious." And "Are you REALLY enjoying this?"

The answer: Yes and Yes.

Update: This is a hoot. The acting is ... community theater good (if you know what I mean). The lighting is ... OK. The filming/editing is pretty good. I am enjoying this actually tremendously. I wanna play TOO!

Update #2: As good as the first episode was, the second is most excellent. Computer generated graphics are very good (they must have used Macs...) -- and the story is written by D.C. Fontana, who wrote multiple episodes of almost all of the flavors of Star Trek as well as Babylon 5. Wow. The acting is better; the actors seem more comfortable in "doing" Kirk, Spock and Bones. I am so used to Fan Fiction being hack jobs. This is really good!

Friday Bullets

  • Yesterday was an exceedingly long day. I registered both girls for school (and that seemed to take hours) and had a dinner meeting with the Second Life Methodist people. The amount of walking in shoes not intended for walking give all three of us (myself and the girls) blisters. Chaos and I also stepped in gum -- I hate stepping in gum. So we are a little tired today.
  • I was amazed at how many people I knew at the High School. Both Chaos and I were/are anxious about High School. After yesterday, I felt better. And the High School is better than I thought. I discovered it was in the 81st percentile of the High Schools in GA. I thought it was much lower, actually. Entropy's Middle School, on the other hand, is in the 71st percentile. Not so good. I'm still not 100 percent happy about the quality of the schools, but it's better than what it could be.
  • Old Kitty (19 years and 10 months old) had to have major dental surgery. One of her biggest teeth had to be extracted -- this required anesthesia, dental drills and stitches. Hopefully she's been losing weight because of the pain from this tooth and/or the heat. With this tooth gone, I really hope she gains some weight. She's literally wasting away. Poor Kitty.
  • Johnny (on the other hand) has been enjoying the break from the mean old woman cat. He was attacking the clean laundry, chewing on various and sundry items and romping all day.
  • I get some dental work today. I appreciate modern dentistry -- I don't LIKE having it done. In fact, I dread the dentist. I get one temporary crown replaced and another tooth "looked at." (Last time that meant a cap.) Goody.
  • The kids are I have been lazy today -- last day of freedom for them for a while. Chaos will have to catch the bus at 6:00 am and Entropy at 8:30. I'm letting them sleep in a bit today. To be honest, I am not looking forward to the roller coaster of the school year routine -- it is indeed a lot of stress.

Thursday, August 07, 2008


I will admit, I like my "mission" oriented activities to be more than writing a check or sitting "with" people. I like to pack health kits or flood buckets for UMCOR. I like sending cookies to the troops in Iraq. The project called "Food 4 Kids" really appeals to me.

Well, this morning (since I get wholesale pricing for certain items) I received in my email an opportunity to purchase 48 backpacks for $104. I think I can get other stuff really cheap too -- the problem is -- I don't know anyone collecting school supplies around here right now.


Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Blogging Toward Sunday

Walking on Water for real -- "The pool now has two WaterWalkers, special bubbles which allow people to walk on water, with your clothes on, and offer a new way to exercise in the town this summer."

In today's story, Jesus really is seen walking on the water and not in a big plastic bubble.

Imagine it -- springtime in Israel. The winter rains had come and the hills were greening up with vegetation. Around here that might mean stormy weather. It was also the time of the Passover. That meant usually meant Spring Break in Israel -- a nice vacation packing up the family donkey and heading to Jerusalem to chill with the relatives.

It was also a sad time for a lot of people -- John the Baptizer has just been killed by Herod. This was the death of a great leader of the people -- one who called for reform and repentance. He was Jesus' friend, relative and co-worker for the kingdom. Not only were John's disciples mourning, so was Jesus.

Jesus went off on his own for prayer and meditation again -- he went to the Mount he used probably for the sermon on the Mount -- the Mountain of Beatitudes. He had just fed 5000 (or 20,000) people with 5 loaves and 2 fish -- he wants more time alone. He sent the crowds home and he sent the disciples out in a boat on the Sea of Galilee. Now this is a very small sea -- more like a large lake -- only eight miles wide and thirteen miles long.

While Jesus was praying on the Mount, a storm blew up on the sea. Since this is a shallow freshwater lake, it really didn't take much for there to be huge waves in this little sea. Archaeologists and whatnot have shown that storms can blow up suddenly and violently. (See also all the interesting stuff about the Jesus Boat. The Jesus Boat is plenty big for 15 people and 5 crew, so 12 people sleeping the the boat is quite within the realm of belief.)*

About three o’clock in the middle of the night, the storm woke the sleeping disciples and they were literally scared to death. Suddenly they see Jesus. Now some translators think that the phrase "walking on the water" (peripateo epi thalassa) could be translated as "walking by the sea" (which would be peripateo para thalassa as is used earlier in Matthew), but John 21:1 is also epi thalassa and always translated BY the sea.**

The scriptures say that the disciples were frightened and cried out that he was a phantasma -- and apparition, a spirit. I'm not understanding this reaction. I try to imagine it. All I can imagine is that they are out of their minds with fear. They didn't say, "Hey, look! There's Jesus!" But they were disquieted, troubled, anxious -- Afraid.

What ARE people afraid of? (from various sources)
  • Snakes, Spiders, Rats, Bats, Alligators (OK, that's me.)
  • Heights, Darkness, Night
  • Storms
  • Water
  • Public Speaking
  • Confinement
  • Public Transportation
  • Tunnels, Bridges
  • Crowds, Being Alone
  • The Future
  • Death
  • Nuclear War
In this narrative the disciples are 1) alone 2) crowded on a small boat 3) in a storm 4) on the water 5) at night 6) alone without Jesus &) threatened by death -- lots of the common fears.

Results of fear:
Fight or Flight
  • heart rate and blood pressure increase
  • pupils dilate to take in as much light as possible
  • veins in skin constrict to send more blood to major muscle groups (responsible for the "chill" sometimes associated with fear -- less blood in the skin to keep it warm)
  • blood-glucose level increases
  • muscles tense up, energized by adrenaline and glucose (responsible for goose bumps -- when tiny muscles attached to each hair on surface of skin tense up, the hairs are forced upright, pulling skin with them)
  • smooth muscle relaxes in order to allow more oxygen into the lungs
  • nonessential systems (like digestion and immune system) shut down to allow more energy for emergency functions
  • trouble focusing on small tasks (brain is directed to focus only on big picture in order to determine where threat is coming from)
All of these physical responses are intended to help you survive a dangerous situation by preparing you to either run for your life or fight for your life (thus the term "fight or flight"). Fear -- and the fight-or-flight response in particular -- is an instinct that every animal possesses. (From How Stuff Works)

The kids increase in fighting this week is a part of their fear of going back to school -- fear of the future, fear of new situations (the unknown), fear of the crowd maybe, fear of unknown expectations and in general anxiety.

ehow suggest that we:
1) DON'T WORRY. Everyone is just as nervous as you are. Actually, what your mind creates and what you actually experience are two different things. Normally, reality is better that your thoughts.
2) BE PREPARED. Make sure you have what you need at least a week before school starts. If you like to make lists, do that. If you like to wing it, do that. Just make sure you're ready and expect to make changes after the first day.
3) FOCUS ON THE GOOD STUFF! Attitude is everything. There will be times when you fail. There will be times when you feel embarrassed. Successful people don't dwell on the negative but keep the positive clear in their minds!

From a Google Search of "Do Not Be Afraid"
  • Do not be afraid of dirt or grime; most things clean up nicely.
  • Do not be afraid to encounter risks. It is by taking chances that we learn how to be brave.
  • Do not be afraid of debt, but use it wisely, monitoring rates of interest, which could increase substantially over time.
  • Do not be afraid of selling at a loss. Instead of waiting for the stock to recoup its losses, try switching to another stock with greater promise.
  • Do not be afraid to ask questions and advocate for yourself. We’re here to serve you.
  • Do not be afraid to purchase insurance leads because you think that they will be difficult to decipher.
  • Do not be afraid to survey clients and ask them about their satisfaction level.
  • Do not be afraid to ask the seller questions about the item for sale.
  • Do not be afraid to come down to help us to fight this intimidation.

“People are afraid of themselves, of their own reality; their feelings most of all. People talk about how great love is, but that's bull. Love hurts. Feelings are disturbing. People are taught that pain is evil and dangerous. How can they deal with love if they're afraid to feel? Pain is meant to wake us up. People try to hide their pain. But they're wrong. Pain is something to carry, like a radio. You feel your strength in the experience of pain. It's all in how you carry it. That's what matters. Pain is a feeling. Your feelings are a part of you. Your own reality. If you feel ashamed of them, and hide them, you're letting society destroy your reality. You should stand up for your right to feel your pain.” -- Jim Morrison

Faith flows like water and heals -- "It's as if the water of the grotto buoys people up, supports them, makes them weightless. When Jesus called himself the Living Water, maybe he meant more than merely quenching thirst. Maybe he also meant he will sustain people, carry them, take those who wade into him with a faithful heart and make them feel light, supported, weightless."

*The Sea of Galilee Boat or The Jesus Boat was an ancient fishing boat from the 1st century AD/CE (the time of Jesus), which was discovered in 1986 on the north-west shore of the Sea of Galilee in Israel. The remains of the boat, which are 27 feet (8.27 meters) long and 7.5 feet (2.3 meters) wide and with a maximum preserved height of 4.3 feet (1.3 meters), first appeared during a drought, when the waters of the Sea (actually a great fresh-water lake) receded. (Wikipedia)

**This can cause plenty of quibbles. There are people who get stuck in rationalizations of HOW the miracles occur -- who see this as "magic" or who get so tied up in the HOW they don't ever get to the WHY and more importantly the WHO.

Phrases I'm Getting Tired Of -- A Bulleted List

  • Make her stop looking at me.
  • She's irritating me.
  • Tell her to stop calling me stupid.
  • Mama, she said $%^&^%$ and #$%^& and %^&*. Aren't you going to punish her?
  • Hey! She's breathing my air!
  • She started it.
  • I hate you.
  • You are a poopie head loser freak.
  • She's touching me! Make her stop touching me!
  • I HATE that song. Stop playing that song!
  • Make her stop jiggling her foot!
  • She threw boogers on me!
  • Make her stop touching my stuff.
  • Go away, it's my alone time with mommy.

I thought when they got to be teen agers it would stop... but sadly that is not the case. It's time for another cup of coffee and better earplugs. Sigh. 5 days until school starts.

P.S. Feel free to add your own personal favorites in the comments sections....

Proper 14A/Pentecost +13

Matthew 14:22-43

22Immediately he made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds. 23And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, 24but by this time the boat, battered by the waves, was far from the land, for the wind was against them. 25And early in the morning he came walking toward them on the sea. 26But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, saying, “It is a ghost!” And they cried out in fear. 27But immediately Jesus spoke to them and said, “Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid.” 28Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” 29He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat, started walking on the water, and came toward Jesus. 30But when he noticed the strong wind, he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me!” 31Jesus immediately reached out his hand and caught him, saying to him, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?” 32When they got into the boat, the wind ceased. 33And those in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”

34When they had crossed over, they came to land at Gennesaret. 35After the people of that place recognized him, they sent word throughout the region and brought all who were sick to him, 36and begged him that they might touch even the fringe of his cloak; and all who touched it were healed.

“Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid.” -- Be strong and of good courage -- take heart.

Note: there was bunches more here yesterday. Blogger ate my posting! Eeek!

Monday, August 04, 2008

Monday Bullets

  • We are busy at our house getting ready for school: new clothing, new school supplies. The girls both want their hair "done" and new shoes. I think that the Loving Husband will have a very large smoking hole in his wallet by the time they are finished. I read somewhere this week that school supplies are averaging $120 per kid. Ouch!
  • Makes me wonder how those who are already scraping by are going to afford such. We went out to eat Saturday night -- the LH and I ordered an appetizer of stuffed mushrooms. 6 mushrooms for $6.95. That's about $1.17 or so per mushroom (each of which was a bite.) Yes, $1.17 a bite. I can't help but think about how the majority of people in this world live on less than $1 a day and I ate something that was $1.17 a bite. I don't know if it is really productive to think this way -- but it surely causes me to pause. I don't think I'll order the mushrooms again.
  • I'm reading an amusing book I picked up at Pastor's School -- The Messiah Formerly Known as Jesus. He calls himself THE Internet Theologian. Had I known the title of THE Internet Theologian was available, I would have grabbed it for myself. The book is almost too amusing. On page 7, he begins to talk about how ordinary theologians get their panties in a wad about the intersection of Pop Culture and Christianity. News Flash, Mr. THE Internet Theologian. It's not the academy that gets their panties in a wad about such -- we even have our own Spiffy Seminary Speak Word about it: contextualization. It 's people who are so very fond of their own brand of contextualization who get their panties in wad. Contextualizations have existed since, like, the very beginning. I'll read more later: in in way the book succeeds in that I want to talk back to the author, but in a way it's just irritating.
  • Talking about contextualizations: The Second Life Mission is trying to have a meeting IRL. If you are in Atlanta on Thursday night, we are meeting at McCray's tavern at 7:00 pm or so. Mr. THE Internet Theologian, you are invited too, if you so wish.
  • Also, I've registered for the Craddock Center's fall Preaching Thingy with Fred Craddock. It's on October 6th and is free. Free Craddock! More info here. Free Craddock, free snacks and lunch. Last time I went, Fred was giving away bits and pieces of his library. If any blogger want to meet up, I'm going to be there. I could wear a white carnation and carry an umbrella, but that's too much effort. Just email instead.
  • I think I'll work on some stuffy stuff now: I want to arrange a few pieces for a quartet -- Soprano and Alto recorders, violin and viola. Something easy peasy. Then it's time to mail packages, do bills (blech), go to Sam's for various and sundry. I think I'll go to Sam's first, before the heat of the day set in. Later, y'all!

P.S. Hi Jack and Lori!

Friday, August 01, 2008

Eat A-Plenty

A Floating Line Gang -- taken in 1928.
From Left to Right -- Mr. Glazier, Pete Donaldson, Charlie Giles, J.R. Hill, (we think) Tom Worley, R.D. Potter, R.A. DeLay and Bill Leggett. My Grandfather worked for the Bell Telephone System for 45 years; I have his 45 year pin. He retired in 1968 or there about and died shortly after. My Grandmother worked as an operator for about 10 years; my other grandmother worked during the war. My mom worked for Southern Bell for 35 years and I did 2 summers as an intern. The LH's Grandfather was also a Bell man -- he worked for 45 years and retired in 1971 a vice president. Deep and strong ties to the Bell System.

My mother was born just before the depression -- and she and her sister were shaped and formed by that decade. My grandfather had a good job as a lineman for Southern Bell and he was making a decent living. They scraped by -- until my g'grandfather died and all my grandmother's siblings moved in with them. My mother tells me of a 3 bedroom house with 1 bathroom housing more than 15 people. My grandparents had their own room; Vassie (a homeless person who my grandmother adopted) slept in the dining room; the girls and my g'grandmother shared the two other bedrooms; the boys slept in the living room.

By 1936, my grandfather's workweek was reduced to 4 days; then 3 days. The company wanted to lay men off; instead they went into a sort of job sharing situation so that all worked -- but there was less work and less money for each man. The Telephone Pioneers made sure that there was food on everyone's table, but it was most of the time less than plenteous. With 15 people under his roof, my grandfather had a hard time making ends meet. My mother told me that she never had a birthday party until she was an adult -- there just wasn't enough for luxuries.

At one point, my grandfather chased a job to Florida -- a lineman's job. He worked the job for months, sending money back home. Eventually my grandmother and my mother and her sister joined my grandfather in Florida in an old Ford. There almost wasn't enough to go around -- they ended up digging up periwinkles to boil into stew. Eventually the job ran out and they scraped up enough money to come home to that overcrowded house.

The boys found jobs where they could; my grandaunts as well. They raised chickens and grew vegetables for the table and my grandmother used to brag that no one ever left her table hungry. My mother never knew that they were 'poor' -- there always seemed to be enough to go around and always seemed to be someone else worse off.

In fact, one of my grandfather's brothers never found good employment during the depression. He worked one CCC job and then another, moving around peripatetically, never being able to settle down. They would occasionally show up at my grandparent's house in their Model T truck, which he had tricked out as a camper. They would usually be dirty, sometimes sick and always hungry. My grandmother would bathe the babies, get clean clothing for the kids and give every one her favorite remedy -- Cod Liver Oil. She would mix it with Grape Nehi Soda -- disgusting. I can't drink Grape Nehi without remembering that awful taste of Cod Liver Oil.

When they were all cleaned up and dosed up, she would make room at the table and my uncle would invariably say, "Eat a-plenty, y'all." Meaning, of course, you never know when you might eat again.

Jesus in this miracle is telling us exactly that. Eat a-plenty -- because no matter how hard times are and no matter how slim the pickings seem to be -- with God's grace and providence, there is plenty. Even when the pickings seem really really slim.

I will never taste Grape Nehi without remembering the Cod Liver Oil -- but as I have grown older, that taste no longer seems awful, but awesome -- a showing of my grandmother's love. As we gather together to break bread and drink of the fruit of the vine, let us remember that out of slim pickings God can provide and we all do indeed need to eat a-plenty.
Rose Tyler got her Doctor. Isn't it a wonderful thing.