Friday, December 26, 2008

Boxing Day Friday Five

Mary Beth writes: It's Boxing Day!

Whatever that may mean to you, I invite you on this day to simply share five things that today, December 26th, will bring for you.

1. Leisure time - for reading, a nap
2. Writing thank-you notes
3. Shopping for, and finding (!) a new refrigerator
4. Laundry
5. Sparring practice this evening.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Friday Five: Countdown to Christmas Edition

Songbird writes...It's true.

There are only five full days before Christmas Day, and whether you use them for shopping, wrapping, preaching, worshiping, singing or traveling or even wishing the whole darn thing were over last Tuesday, there's a good chance they will be busy ones.

So let's make this easy, if we can: tell us five things you need to accomplish before Christmas Eve.

  1. I need to bake cookies with my friend Sandy - we will do that most of today and tomorrow.
  2. I need to finish decorating our trees.
  3. I need to wrap presents.
  4. I need to give one last look at the worship bulletins before they are run.
  5. I need to take some time just to be with all the wonder of this holy season+

Saturday, December 13, 2008

FRIDAY FIVE - Windows of the Soul

This Friday Five is inspired by Sophia's husband's Lasik surgery yesterday....we are praying for his safe recovery and sharing our thoughts on eyes and vision.

1. What color are your beautiful eyes? Did you inherit them from or pass them on to anyone in your family? My eyes are hazel, but contact lenses make them look more green than hazel. My mom's eyes are blue, and my dad's are brown, so mine are the result of some recessive gene stuff going on, I guess!

2. What color eyes would you choose if you could change them?
I would not change my eye color - sticking with green.

3. Do you wear glasses or contacts? What kind? Like 'em or hate 'em?
I have worn some kind of corrective lenses since I was a small child, mostly contacts. I have tried both hard and soft; the gas-permeable lenses work best for me. I don't like or hate them; they are simply a part of life. I am legally blind without correction, so I am just grateful to have the technology to see so well with relative comfort too.

4. Ever had, or contemplated, laser surgery? Happy with the results?
I have been told that I am not a candidate, at least not yet.

5. Do you like to look people in the eye, or are you more eye-shy?
I like to look people in the eye - most intentionally when I offer them the Eucharist. I believel that this is such powerful way to communicate God's "for you" promise in the meal.

Bonus question: Share a poem, song, or prayer that relates to eyes and seeing.
I will work on this one...I Can See Clearly Now is running through my head, but I want to find something else too...

Friday, October 31, 2008

Friday Five: Positive Potpourri

Will smama writes: As I zip around the webring it is quite clear that we are getting BUSY. "Tis the season" when clergy and laypeople alike walk the highwire from Fall programming to Christmas carrying their balancing pole with family/rest on the one side and turkey shelters/advent wreaths on the other.

And so I offer this Friday Five with 5 quick hit questions... and a bonus:

1) Your work day is done and the brain is fried, what do you do?
I go to Taekwon-Do - then brain and body can both be fried!

2) Your work week is done and the brain is fried (for some Friday, others Sunday afternoon), what do you do?
I engage in Holy Nappage on Sunday afternoon.

3) Like most of us, I often keep myself busy even while programs are on the tv. I stop to watch The Office and 30 Rock on Thursday nights. Do you have 'stop everything' tv programming or books or events or projects that are totally 'for you' moments?
Cleveland Indians baseball

4) When was the last time you laughed, really laughed? What was so funny?
I laughed good and hard Tuesday at a political joke my husband sent me.

5) What is a fairly common item that some people are willing to go cheap on, but you are not.
Coffee - we drink Leelanau Coffee, which magically appears on our doorstep once a month. Of course the bill for it magically appears on our credit card too - but it is soooo worth it!

Bonus: It's become trite but is also true that we often benefit the most when we give. Go ahead, toot your own horn. When was the last time you gave until it felt good?
Last Monday evening at our local March of Dimes fundraiser and a week or so before that as Spiritual Director of our area Via de Cristo weekend.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Friday Five: Location, Location, Location

Singing Owl is anticipating her daughter and family moving to stay with her for awhile. SO... this post, appropriately, is about locations. She invites us to tell us about the five favorite places we have lived in our lifetime...

I have lived in more than a dozen places, but I will comment on the most memorable ones here:

1. Louisville, Ohio

Our family moved to this northeastern Ohio town of 8,000 or so in the late '60's and I lived there through graduation from high school in 1978. L-ville is still a small town with some beautiful old Victorian and Georgian-style homes, and a "Friday-Night Lights"-style obsession with high school football. We lived in two homes while I was there, the second being a wonderful home my father built for us. I loved my room; it had a wonderful window seat dormer and my first and only walk-in closet!

2. Numazu, Japan
I spent my junior year of high school as an exchange student, living in this seaside city at the foot of Mount Fuji. I absolutely loved my year there - I lived with four host families over the year, accommodations ranging from an apartment above a pharmacy and a penthouse above a private orthopedic hospital, to a sprawling country home with a separate bath house fed by a hot spring.

3. Columbus, Ohio
University and seminary study led me to this capital city, which in the seven years I was there was speedily morphing into a sophisticated artsy metropolis. From cozy dorm rooms to a half-double on 16th Ave that deserved to be condemned, to more dorm rooms, to the "white house" on Parkview and finally another half-double in Clintonville, my homes in Columbus were places where my worldview and my vocation were shaped and confirmed.

4. Toledo, Ohio
First call led me to this city of 250,000 over 23 years ago. I rented a small bungalow, and then purchased my first home, a ranch-style. But the Toledo home that I hold most dearly is the 1916 Dutch Colonial that I purchased as I began my second call. I dreamed of the distinctive two-directional oak staircase before I ever saw it. The house had been held in a trust for nearly a dozen years, and looked like the Money Pit when I first saw it: oriental metallic wall paper in the foyer, and a kitchen whose colors made you want to run screaming out of the house (avocado, grey, yellow, and scarlet). But the man who would become my husband and my parents convinced me that we "could do this" and we did - turning this house into a showcase. Our marriage was begun here, our children nurtured here.

5. Sylvania, Ohio
14 years ago I was called to this community, a suburb of Toledo. We wanted to live in the community I would serve, and so we began looking for a home. Most of the housing cost far more than we wanted to spend, but we found a great home, and have slowly steadily made this two-story our own. We've opened the kitchen into the family room, added a front porch, and decorated some of it to reflect our love for Northern Michigan. The wall paper in the half bath makes you feel as though you are in the middle of a birch grove!

Bonus: In "retirement", we want to live in Northern Michigan in the Leelanau Peninsula. Here's a picture of the fall colors I took on a visit there last week.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Friday Five: Saint Francis of Assisi Day

This week's host, Sally, dedicates our Friday Five to St Francis of Assisi, whose feast day is October 3rd.

1. Saint Francis experienced a life changing call, has anything in your journey so far challenged you to alter your lifestyle?
My year as an exchange student in Japan challenged me to think of myself as a citizen of the world, rather than merely of my homeland, the United States. Studying Taewkon-Do for the past three years has reinforced that mindset.

2. Francis experienced mocking and persecution, quite often in the comfortable west this is far from our experience. If you have experienced something like this how do you deal with it, if not how does it challenge you to pray for those whose experience is daily persecution?
Learning about our forebearers in faith who have stood in the gap with those who suffer inspires me to become more aware of God's call for me to go and do likewise. I have begun to meditate on Mother Teresa's Simple Path:
The fruit of silence is PRAYER
The fruit of prayer is FAITH
The fruit of faith is LOVE
The fruit of love is SERVICE
The fruit of service is PEACE

3 St Francis had a female counterpart in St Clare, she was influenced by St Francis' sermon and went on to found the Poor Clares. Like the Franciscans they depended on alms this was unheard of for women in that time, but she persisted and gained permission to found the order. How important are role models like St Clare to you? Do you have a particular female role model whose courage and dedication inspires you? If so share their story....
Svetlana Cholvadova Ottney is a skilled artist who emigrated to our area in the face of persecution for her faith. She works with clay to create murals that tell the faith stories of many worshiping communities in our area. This is a mural of St. Clare that she and her supervising instructor, Sr. Jane Mary Sorosiak, created for Lourdes College.

4. Francis loved nature and animals, how important is an expressed love of the created world to the Christian message today?
Love for the world God has created and entrusted to our care is central to my theology. Our place in God's story begins with creation in Genesis 1, not with sin in Genesis 3.

5. On a lighter note; have you ever led a service of blessing for animals, or a pet service, was it a success, did you enjoy it, and would you do it again?
Yes, we have led services of blessing for animals. They have been only sparsely attended, but those who have participated have really enjoyed them. I would do it again.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Friday Five: Johnny Appleseed Day

Singing Owl is hosting the RevGals Friday Five today...
Raise your hand if you know that today is Johnny Appleseed Day!
September 26, 1774 was his birthday. Johnny Appleseed" (John Chapman) is one of America's great legends. He was a nurseryman who started out planting trees in western New York and Pennsylvania, but he was among those who were captivated by the movement west across the continent.

As Johnny traveled west (at that time, the "West" was places like Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, and Illinois) he planted apple trees and sold trees to settlers. With every apple tree that was planted, the legend grew. A devout Christian, he was known to preach during his travels. According to legend, Johny Appleseed led a simple life and wanted little. He rarely accepted money and often donated any money he received to churches or charities. He planted hundereds of orchards, considering it his service to humankind. There is some link between Johny Appleseed and very early Arbor Day celebrations.

So, in honor of this interesting fellow, let's get on with the questions!
1. What is your favorite apple dish? (BIG BONUS points if you share the recipe.)
Here's a favorite - great for an autumn breakfast:
Apple French Toast Cobbler
1 8-oz. loaf French Bread
4 eggs
1 C milk
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp vanilla
6 apples, peeled, cored, and sliced
1/2 C brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
2 Tbsp melted butter
Slice the bread into 1-inch slices, lay in cake or pie plate. In a bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, baking powder and vanilla. Pour over the bread, turning to coat completely. Cover and let the bread stand until all the liquid has been absorbed.

Grease a 13 X 9 pan. Place the sliced apples in the bottom of the pan. Sprinkle brown sugar and cinnamon over the apples. Arrange the soaked bread over the top. Brush with the melted butter. Bake in a 450 degree oven for 25 minutes. Serves 8

2. Have you ever planted a tree? If so was there a special reason or occasion you can tell us about?
We have planted many trees for many reasons, but probably the most precious was the tree we planted in loving memory of the child we lost to miscarriage.

3. Does the idea of roaming around the countryside (preaching or otherwise) appeal to you? Why or why not?
I look forward to roaming, but not so much around the countryside. I look forward to the day when the Captain and I will cruise around the mitten of Michigan, stopping at the port towns along the way. Don't think I'll be preaching, but maybe writing, who knows?

4. Who is a favorite "historical legend" of yours?
Wow...hate to copy, but the "West Wing" President Bartlett and his staff rank pretty high with me.

5. Johnny Appleseed was said to sing to keep up his spirits as he traveled the roads of the west. Do you have a song that comes when you are trying to be cheerful, or is there something else that you often do?
I often sing or hum when I am cheerful. This is the song that has been running through my head lately...

Oh, and the answer to the bonus question LutheranChik asks - favorite variety is Honey Crisp!

Friday, September 5, 2008

Vulnerability Friday Five

As all of us RevGals hold our dear Gannet Girl and her family in prayer at the death of her son, Sally writes... I hope that folk will take this in the spirit with which it is offered; that of continuing prayer and concern tempered by the knowledge that we are called both to weep and to rejoice with our communities. I have recently been reading a book entitled Jesus wept, it is all about vulnerability in leadership. The authors speak of how Jesus shared his earthly frustrations and vulnerabilities with a select group of people. To some he was the charismatic leader and teacher, to others words of wisdom were opened and explained and some frustrations shared, to his "inner circle of friends: Peter, James and John, he was most fully himself, and in all of these things he was open to God.

So I bring you this week's Friday 5:
1. Is vulnerability something that comes easily to you, or are you a private person?

As a child, vulnerability (and gullibility) came quite easily to me. As a result, I endured a lot of emotional bullying and more - all of which led me to surmise that vulnerability was a dangerous and undesirable thing. I built a wall around my heart then, and even now some of the bricks still remain. As the community I serve and I have been transitioning over the last month or so, I have discovered that a few of those bricks no longer served their purpose. These questions come at a time when I have been discovering that I can be more open and honest, at least with some whom I trust.

2.How important is it to keep up a professional persona in work/ ministry?
I confess that I have been pretty good at keeping up a professional persona in the past. I am actively discerning what it means for me to act with professionalism without maintaining a persona. I think it's a lifelong day-by-day process of learning to function with openness and integrity.

3. Masks, a form of self-protection discuss...

Yes! See #s 1 & 2 above.

4. Who knows you warts and all?

God, my husband, my boys, a few close friends, my spiritual director.

5. Share a book, a prayer, a piece of music, a poem or a person that touches the deep place in your soul, and calls you to be who you are most authentically.
A prayer attributed to Thomas Merton… My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think that I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road though I may know nothing about it. Therefore will I trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Friday Five: Fall Transformations

RevGalsBlogPal Mary Beth writes:

For this Friday's Five, share with us five transformations that the coming fall will bring your way.

  1. Fall 2008 will mark the beginning of our older son Music Man's senior year of high school. It seems as though we were just walking him into his kindergarten class...and now, we are scheduling senior pictures and college visits. It is an amazing and bittersweet time in our lives!
  2. In late September, our younger son Gamer and I will be testing for our black stripe in Taekwon-Do. Provided that we pass, we will be some six months away from testing for black belt. We have been working toward this goal for nearly three years!
  3. In October my mom and dad will mark 50 years of marriage - WOW!!! We are planning a weekend away together with them, once our high school finishes its game against our cross-town rivals. Go Cougars! Go Mom and Dad!
  4. It's coming a bit early to be counted as a fall transformation, but our pastoral staff has been reduced by one, due to the departure of our associate pastor after 9 years of good shared ministry. We will be entering the call process, and I will be working to maintain healthy boundaries as two pastors' worth of workload stretches out before me.
  5. I am beginning to get serious about the transformation of my physical health through increased exercise and healthier diet. I have joined SPARK and am tracking nutrition, exercise, and other goals for the sake of a healthier life. Goal is to lose 50 lbs by next March, when I begin my 50th year and test for black belt.

Bonus: Give us your favorite activity that is made possible by the arrival of fall.

The Captain and I love to watch the leaves changing color. We often try to sneak to Northern Michigan for a few days to celebrate our anniversary and witness the masterpieces that God paints there.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Friday Five: God Days of Summer

Presbyterian Gal writes: It’s August. An oppressively hot and humid month where many of us live.

I remember the Al Pacino movie though not much about the plot. Just that it was very, very hot. And he had giant sweat stains on his shirt.

As I pass through this year’s dog days in my felon ridden neighborhood (OK, just two housefuls. But isn’t that enough?), I am trying to focus on the blessings apparent around me, past and present, that I might not notice, necessarily. In that spirit, this week’s Friday Five goes thusly:

1. What is your sweetest summer memory from childhood? Did it involve watermelon or hand cranked ice cream? Or perhaps a teen summer romance. Which stands out for you?
My sweetest summer memory from childhood involves strawberries - a field with clusters of wild strawberries behind the home where we lived during my pre-school years. We lived out in the country at that time, without neighbors close by. The field was my playground, where I met my imaginary friends, and a sweet daily snack was waiting.

2. Describe your all time favorite piece of summer clothing. The one thing you could put on in the summer that would seem to insure a cooler, more excellent day.
Shorts and a sleeveless tank or polo shirt - I think this has been true all my life!

3. What summer food fills your mouth with delight and whose flavor stays happily with you long after eaten?
Caprese salad - Tomatoes with mozzarella cheese, basil and EVOO...S'mores prepared at a lakeside campfire...a Tanqueray and tonic with lime as "Captain" and I sit looking at the stars.

4. Tell us about the summer vacation or holiday that holds your dearest memory.'s so hard to identify just one! Every family vacation has its cherished moments. Probably one of the most memorable was our family trip to the Canadian Rockies in a truck camper when I was 13. We were driving through the Beartooth Mountains in Montana - my parents in the truck cab, and my younger brother and I in the overcab of the camper. With each hairpin turn we approached, our position in the camper made it look as though we were going right over the side of the mountain. At first it was terribly frightening, but then as we realized we were at the edge but not going over, it felt like a great rollercoaster ride. In the end, our screams became too much for my dad's concentration, so we had to climb down from the overcab and sit at the table!

5. Have you had any experience(s) this summer that has drawn you closer to God or perhaps shown you His wonder in a new way?
For me, sunset views on the bay from aft on our cruiser have been holy moments. There is a time each sunset when the water takes on an opalescent hue - I can't find quite find the words to describe the color. But my heart feels especially close to God in those moments.

Bonus question: When it is really hot, humid and uncomfortable, what do you do to refresh and renew body and spirit?
We have air conditioning, so there is always a ready escape indoors. If I've got some free time or time with our family, we go to a local theatre and see a movie!

(All pictures from Google Images)

Friday, July 25, 2008

Friday Five: What You Absolutely, Postively, Can't Leave Home Without

Singing Owl writes...We will be at a chaplain's convention when you all are answering the Friday Five Questions. I'll look forward to reading your answers next week when I get home. At the moment we are trying to get the car loaded so we can hit the road, so this will be a simple F.F. This running around madly in order to leave has me wondering: what are the five things you simply must have when you are away from home? And why? Any history or goofy things, or stories?

Such a timely Friday Five, as we are on vacation in Northern Michigan, beginning our second wonderful week here. We come to the same summer cottage each year; we know its supplies and deficiencies so well now that we have a packing list on the computer that we update at the end of each vacation for the next year.

But when I travel, these are the things that I always take along...
1. My slippers - navy blue scuffs that, when I put them on, make anywhere feel comfy and a little more like home. Don't know how long ago I got into this habit, but my year as an exchange student in Japan made me very comfortable with a scuff slipper, because that is what you slip into when you slip out of your shoes at the entrance of a home. Still tend to leave my shoes at the door if allowed to do so...after 32 years!

2. A good book and a magazine or two. Leisure eading is a getaway activity for me. On this trip I brought Real Simple, Good Housekeeping, Oprah, and Southern Living magazines, and Fearless Fourteen, Miracle at Speedy Motors, Whitethorne Woods, Amazing Grace, Write Yourself Right Size, and Starting Over.

3. A corkscrew - we've bought a few along the way, and so there are enough floating around our toiletry bags to never go without.

4. Make-up, or at least lipstick and contact lens comfort drops. Need I say more?

5. Blackberry Pearl - a few months ago I would have said my laptop. I used to take it everywhere. But last month our son and I took a trip to Denver, CO to see the Rockies with my mom. And because the Pearl allows me to view e-mails and scan the web, I just didn't need my laptop along. It felt good! But here for two weeks, I have the LT - it would have been too hard to do a Friday Five on the Pearl!

Wishing you all a wonderful weekend, safe journeys and joyful homecomings to any and all who are traveling, and the wisdom to receive and enjoy this day for the gift that it is.

Friday, June 27, 2008

A Summer Reading Friday Five

Rev Gals Blog Pal Songbird writes: Back in the day, before I went to seminary, I worked in the Children's Room at the Public Library, and every year we geared up for Summer Reading. Children would come in and record the books read over the summer, and the season included numerous special and celebratory events. As a lifelong book lover and enthusiastic summer reader, I find I still accumulate a pile of books for the summer.

This week, then, a Summer Reading Friday Five.

1) Do you think of summer as a particularly good season for reading? Why or why not?
For the past dozen years or more, I have done most of my reading for enjoyment during the summer. I do so in part because our family vacations at a very restful place along a lake in Northern Michigan, and reading has always been central to our time there. I began reading the Harry Potter series to our family there years ago, and the reading tradition has continued.

2) Have you ever fallen asleep reading on the beach?
Yes, a few years ago when I was reading through a slow part of Tolstoy's Anna Karenina. Thankfully, I had lots of sunscreen on!

3) Can you recall a favorite childhood book read in the summertime?
Nancy Drew mysteries - started reading them when I was about 8 or so. Now as I look back at my sons' childhood, the evenings we spent reading the Harry Potter books aloud, sometimes with extended family there as well, will be cherished memories.

4) Do you have a favorite genre for light or relaxing reading?
I enjoy the First Ladies Detective Agency series by Alexander McCall Smith. My guilty pleasures include the Stephanie Plum series by Janet Evanonich, anything by Janet Cruisie, Maeve Binchy, or Nicholas Sparks.

5) What is the next book on your reading list?
I have several ready to read when we head up north- including the latest from the First Ladies Detective Agency series, Fearless Fourteen by Janet Evanovich, as well as several others that friends have loaned to me. 21 days and counting!

Friday, May 30, 2008

A Garage-Saler's Friday Five May 30

Since will smama is preparing for a joint garage sale with her parents, and Songbird's church had a Yard and Plant Sale last Saturday, they have five enormously important questions for all of us Friday Five players:

1) Are you a garage saler?
No, I have never really been a garage sale host or buyer. I don't know just has never been something to which I have gravitated. I have tended to donate things that could be sold to Goodwill and other organizations like them.
That being said, I am going to try to sell a few items next week at a neighbor's garage there's always a first time!
2) If so, are you an immediate buyer or a risk taker who comes back later when prices are lower?
I am neither, but our younger son is an immediate buyer and a regular shopper at local garage sales.
3) Seriously, if you're not a garage saler, you are probably not going to want to play this one.
(That wasn't really #3.)
3) This is the real #3: What's the best treasure you've found at a yard or garage sale?
My husband and I found an old (circa 1930's) gas stove at a garage sale in our old neighborhood. It was not anything we wanted, but just a few weeks before, my mother had said that she was looking for one for use in the bed and breakfast they run. Now mind you, all the while that my mother was going on about wanting this stove, my father was standing behind her, silently but furiously waving her idea off.
Which left us with a we get this stove for them or not?
We decided that we would call them, and if mom answered the phone, we would tell her about it. If dad answered the phone (which he usually does), we would know to pass the stove by.
Wouldn't you know it...Mom answered the phone. She wanted the stove, and so we proceeded.
My dad had no problem retrofitting it into their kitchen with its tin ceiling and 100+ year old wood cabinets and trim.
That was over 15 years ago...and it still works beautifully for them!
4)If you've done one yourself, at church or at home, was it worth the effort?
Members of our congregation hold a garage sale most every year, and it does net a lot of money, at least half of which we forward on to other ministries. It is definitely worth the effort...and it has built some new friendships through the years
5) Can you bring yourself to haggle?
I can, in certain the old city in Jerusalem's West Bank, in the street markets in the Caribbean, and on big ticket items!

Friday, May 9, 2008

FRIDAY FIVE - Gifts of the Spirit

FROM ACTS CHAPTER 2: 14 Then Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice and addressed the crowd: "Fellow Jews and all of you who live in Jerusalem, let me explain this to you; listen carefully to what I say. 15 These men are not drunk, as you suppose. It's only nine in the morning! 16 No, this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel:17 " 'In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams. 18 Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy. 19 I will show wonders in the heaven above and signs on the earth below, blood and fire and billows of smoke. 20 The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and glorious day of the Lord. 21 And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.'

Friday, May 2, 2008

Wait and Pray Friday Five

Sally from RevGalBlogPals writes Part of the Ascension Day Scripture from Acts 11 contains this promise from Jesus;

"But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

Then he was taken from their sight into the clouds, two angels appeared and instructed the probably bewildered disciples to go back to Jerusalem, where they began to wait and to pray for the gift Jesus had promised.

Prayer is a joy to some of us, and a chore to others, waiting likewise can be filled with anticipation or anxiety....

So how do you wait and pray?

1. How do you pray best, alone or with others?
I like to pray together with others, but I pray most deeply by myself. I have been intentionally growing into more of a contemplative prayer over the last year or so.

2. Do you enjoy the discipline of waiting, is it a time of anticipation or anxiety?
I don't really enjoy waiting as a rule, but the waiting that is a part of prayer is becoming more comfortable. It's more a time of anticipation than anxiety.

3. Is there a time when you have waited upon God for a specific promise?
Yes, and I can remember it as if it were yesterday. The first parish and community in which I served had a culture was clearly shaped by marriage - that is to say, you reached maturity and respectability in the community when you were married. It was a difficult place to be a single female pastor.

So I prayed long and hard for a life partner. Not just to fit into the community, but also because I believed that God had promised that I would have one...someday. Sometimes I cried as I prayed. I just couldn't believe that I would have to carry out this ministry entrusted to me without someone to share my life. Though I knew God was close, I needed someone with skin on!

I met the man who would become my husband as I began the process of accepting a new call. And because he was a member of the congregation, my initial response was "Oh no, God, this isn't supposed to happen this way!" Finally an insightful colleague and mentor told me to stop questioning how God seemed to be answering my prayer. We were married late the next year, and have shared 18 precious years together.

4. Do you prefer stillness or action?
Because there is so much noise and activity in my life, I crave stillness.

5. If ( and this is slightly tongue in cheek) you were promised one gift spiritual or otherwise what would you choose to receive?
I would welcome the gift of hospitality. I feel as though this is something I have to work at, and I wish instead that it just flowed from me.

Friday, April 25, 2008

An Old Versus Modern Friday Five...

Singing Owl writes...Yesterday I had two separate conversations in which people were musing about how much change is occurring. The WW II generation, of which my mom is a part, went from horse and buggy to automobiles, saw the lessening, or even the end of many diseases, went from widespread use of kerosene lamps and outhouses (in the country, and most folks were rural)) to a totally electrified and plumbed society. The fastest means of communication was a telegraph. The second conversation--gulp--was about MY generation and how much change occurred in the last half of the 20th century. The person said his 13 year old had not seen a vinyl record album until a few days before, couldn't remember a time without cell phones, and on and on. As for the questions!

1. What modern convenience/invention could you absolutely, positively not live without?
Well, I would have thought it was the computer, but I have discovered that I can do well without least for awhile! I think it would be the car. There are so many wonderful places I would never have seen if it were not for the automobile that enabled me to get there.

2. What modern convenience/invention do you wish had never seen the light of day? Why?
I think we could do without cell phones...I certainly could do without them ringing in the middle of worship. Because we don't seem to know how to turn them off or to vibrate, they interrupt our efforts to have meaningful face-to-face conversation.

3. Do you own a music-playing device older than a CD player? More than one? If so, do you use it (them)?
I still have a cassette player here in our den, and I can't remember when we last used it. I think it may be "out of there" by the end of the weekend! Our turntable went out with the unlimited pickup last year after sitting in a closet for a few years.

4. Do you find the rapid change in our world exciting, scary, a mix...or something else?
I am mostly excited by it, but when I wonder what is ahead for our children and grandchildren, I get a little nervous that our ethics are not keeping pace with the rapid change.

5. What did our forebears have that we have lost and you'd like to regain?
Since I wasn't there, I can't be sure. After all, just about anything that my forebears have told me about the "good old days" has been filtered through their experience.

I think I'd like to regain the sense of community that people once had in their neighborhoods. I live in a neighborhood that has more private decks than front porches. We added a front porch to our home several years ago, and we enjoy visiting there with neighbors who are walking their dogs...or watching a summer storm pass over.

We are in the infancy stages of a vision for reclaiming community in our neighborhoods in our congregation. Our hope is that teams of 3-4 households in each geographical area will be salt and light where they live...coordinating help for people who need little things done around their homes, and sponsoring some kind of community-building event like a block party or holiday open house. We call it "Neighborhood Care-ring".

Friday, April 18, 2008

A 24-Hour Friday Five

RevHRod wrote...Yesterday I had the 24 hour flu. I had been told by the people who had it first that it really was a twenty-four hour bug. And so while I dealt with all the blech of the flu, I kept reminding myself that morning would come and I would feel a lot better.

This is certainly a strange way to start out a Friday Five but it made me think about what I might like to do if I knew it would only last for 24 hours. There are no reality boundaries to these imaginings. So here are the five things for you to consider...
  1. If you could dramatically change your physical appearance for 24 hours, what would you do? I would get rid of 50 pounds of extra weight and enjoy being more physically active for the day.

  2. If you could live in another place for 24 hours where would you go? I would go back to Japan, where I spent a year as an exchange student. I'd try to find some of the people I knew there and share lots of sushi and sake with them.

  3. You get to do somebody else's job for a day...I've always thought I might pursue a career in licensed massage therapy later on in life. I think I'd try it for a day and see how I'd like it.

  4. Spend the day with another person from anywhere in time and space...A day with Mother Teresa of Calcutta, working by her side.

  5. A magical power is yours. Which one would you pick? Any power that would enable me to alleviate human suffering by addressing its root causes...perhaps the powers of insight or persuasion, on a global level.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Movin' Out

Mother Laura writes, "We are right in the middle of a move--only twenty minutes away, but we're still a mix of busy, excited, nervous and surprisingly full of grief about what we're leaving, for me at least. So this week's Friday Five asks about your experience of the marvels and madness of moving...

1. How many times have you moved? When was the last time?
I personally have moved 16 times in 48 years. Our family moved to our current home nearly 14 years ago. This is by far the longest I have ever lived in one place.

2. What do you love and hate about moving?
I love the possibility of a new start - and a really clean house! I hate packing!

3. Do you do it yourself or hire movers?
I have never had the experience of using professional movers...but have been blessed with many helpful friends. What's a professional move like?

4. Advice for surviving and thriving during a move?
Accept friends' offers of ruthless about throwing away the stuff that you haven't used for 2 years or more.

5. Are you in the middle of any inner moves, if not outer ones? inner move toward calling our faith community to stand with our brothers and sisters who are caring for the poor and homeless in our area.

Bonus: Share a piece of music/poetry/film/book that expresses something about what moving means to you.
Movin' Out by Billy Joel comes to mind and is staying I'll go with that.

Saturday, April 5, 2008


Supper at Emmaus by He Qi

EASTER is the “Jesus” part of the "Joys – Junk – Jesus" focus we have been sharing at our congregation since Christmas

The Easter Gospels reveal what Jesus died and was raised from death to accomplish according to God’s will and purpose for creation…

1. Jesus the New Life for those ensnared by sin, death and the devil - we are delivered from their power.

2. Jesus the Peace-giver for the Doubting and Dejected – We are restored.

3. Jesus the Promise Keeper for the brokenhearted - We have hope.

4. Jesus the Caretaker - We journey through life in safety.

5. Jesus the Spiritual Guide to the Father - We trust.

6. Jesus the Full Revelation of God – We see God and believe.

7. Jesus the One in whom all creation is unified before God– We are community.

The Easter evening story of the Road to Emmaus is such a powerful story of transformation. When the un-recognized Jesus asks, "What are you discussing as you walk along?” the travelers STOP and stand still, looking sad, frozen in the moment by the over-powering loss they feel.

Pastor N. F. writes (and I paraphrase)...Theirs is the kind of pain that catches your breath in your throat. We've felt it at the death of a friend, parent, spouse, or child. Even the death of a dream can trigger the frozen response when it tears the future or a relationship away.

Luke doesn't tell us how Jesus unfreezes these travelers but they continue telling their story to him. And when the travelers have told the story and acknowledged their loss of hope, the walking and talking continue, and the dialog gains energy as Jesus starts telling God’s story. Beginning with Moses and the prophets, the still unrecognized Jesus tells them the story of God’s intention for humanity – for all creation.

Once they reach Emmaus, the travelers stop once more, but this time it is to stop Jesus from leaving them. They compel him to stay with them at their home. And as Jesus gives thanks to God, breaks bread and gives it to them - in the breaking of bread he is known. God’s story and theirs is joined forever in the revelation that Jesus is God’s Son, crucified and raised.

So, as one sister preacher notes, Emmaus gives us a pattern for worship. We journey along, worried by our world, our hearts often broken with loss. We read from Scripture and our hearts burn as Jesus opens it up to us, and then we recognize him in the breaking of the bread, and then we journey forth in joy.

When we come to know Jesus, it is a moment frozen in time. When we experience Jesus as One who has died and been raised for us, it is a moment of transformation after which nothing is the same. It may be a dramatic reversal of direction …or a moment of enlightened awareness when our hearts are touched, opened, and transformed.

And when we come to know Jesus and are known by him, the joyful response to this new reality and new direction is to jump up and run to tell everyone we know. Isn't it? And if so, we never tire of telling the story of Jesus and us.

Pat Richardson, formerly a senior VP for Motorola, would often find himself in the elevator with CEO Bob Galvin. Bob would say, "Pat, what are you working on?" Pat says that he would have about 40 seconds to tell a clear, concise, compelling story. He called it his "Elevator Speech." If Bob liked it, you got to ride all the way up to the top floor with him. If he didn't, pushed the button for the next floor and told you to have a nice day.

You and I need to develop and be able to tell our “elevator speech” about Jesus, at all times, in all places, to all people.We need to be able to identify and flesh out one of more of the many ways Jesus has transformed our lives:
1. Jesus the New Life for those ensnared by sin, death and the devil - we are delivered from their power.
2. Jesus the Peace-giver for the Doubting and Dejected – We are restored.
3. Jesus the Promise Keeper for the Broken-hearted - We have hope.
4. Jesus the Caretaker - We journey through life in safety.
5. Jesus the Spiritual Guide to the Father - We trust.
6. Jesus the Full Revelation of God – We see God and believe.
7. Jesus the One in whom all creation is unified before God– We are community.

But maybe you are sitting here still frozen… Because …Yes…I am talking about evangelism.The big scary “E” word. I was on a transformational journey with 20 other women last weekend which happened to take place on a cruise ship. At one point when several of them were sitting in a hot tub along with another individual just talking , the word "evangelism" crept out, and so did the other individual in the hot-tub! He made a beeline out of there.

Perhaps we make evangelism scary and hard because we see it as a heavy duty rather than how we live, and live joyfully. Evangelism can scare the Jesus out of people if it’s all about 'rules'. Evangelism can scare the Jesus out of people if we are so forceful that we chase people away.

So whether we can identify our “elevator speech” about Jesus yet or not, we can, as God has created us to do, live and love each a joy, rather than a chore…

Let me close with a story that a brother in Christ shared with me this week…

A few years ago a group of salesmen went to a regional sales convention in Chicago. They had assured their wives that they would be home in plenty of time for Friday night's dinner. In their rush, with tickets and briefcases, one of these salesmen inadvertently kicked over a table which held a display of apples. Apples flew everywhere. Without stopping or looking back, they all managed to reach the plane in time for their nearly missed boarding.

ALL BUT ONE !!! He paused, took a deep breath, got in touch with his feelings, and experienced a twinge of compassion for the girl whose apple stand had been overturned.

He told his buddies to go on without him, waved good-bye, told one of them to call his wife when they arrived at their home destination and explain his taking a later flight. Then he returned to the terminal where the apples were all over the terminal floor.

He was glad he did. The 16-year-old girl was totally blind! She was softly crying, tears running down her cheeks in frustration, and at the same time, helplessly groping for her spilled produce as the crowd swirled about her, no one stopping and no one to care for her plight.

The salesman knelt on the floor with her, gathered up the apples, put them back on the table and helped organize her display. As he did this, he noticed that many of them had become battered and bruised; these he set aside in another basket.

When he had finished, he pulled out his wallet and said to the girl, 'Here, please take this $40 for the damage we did. Are you okay?' She nodded through her tears... He continued on with, 'I hope we didn't spoil your day too badly.'

As the salesman started to walk away, the bewildered blind girl called out to him, 'Mister...' He paused and turned to look back into those blind eyes. She continued, 'Are you Jesus?'

He stopped mid-stride, and he wondered. Then slowly he made his way to catch the later flight with the question burning in his heart: 'Are you Jesus?' Do people mistake you for Jesus? That's our destiny, what we were created for… to be so much like Jesus, that people see him as we live in and interact with a world that is blind to His love, life and grace.

If we have come to know Him and be known by Him, then ours is the call to live, walk, listen and act as He would. Knowing Him is more than simply quoting Scripture and going to church, or even sharing in this life-giving meal. It's actually living the living Word as life unfolds before us day to day.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Friday Five April 4, 2008

Sally asked...

With this Sunday's gospel reading in mind, that wonderful revelation of Christ to the companions on the Emmaus road. I wonder where you might have been surprised by God's revelation recently.

So with no further waffle I offer you this weeks Friday 5:

How has God revealed him/herself to you in a:

1. Book
I am in love with Alexander McCall Smith's series "The First Ladies Detective Agency". The protagonist is a strong wise African woman named Precious Ramotswe. As I read each volume (there are 7 or 8 now), I delight in a woman who is filled with a spirit of grace, wisdom and wit. She points me to an image of the woman of God God wants me to be.

This one is harder - my memory about films is very short - so I can enjoy them again and again as if for the first time. The Green Mile jumped to the tip of my tongue as I read the question, so I will leave it at that.

3. Song many, but I'll say psalm 141 as it is sung in the ELW hymnal evening prayer and Marty Haugen's Holden Evening Prayer settings

4. Another person
My husband...never have I known someone so filled with grace toward me. I do not deserve him, but he is mine and I am his.

5. Creation
Mornings at Glen Lake, in northern lower Michigan - think of your left hand - palm out- as lower Michigan. Look to the left side of your ring finger - that's where Glen Lake is. The waters are almost as blue as parts of the Caribbean, and sunrise and for 2 weeks each summer I get to spend my devotional time in the early morning there. Above picture is of the moon rising over said lake...beautiful!

Bonus answer: your choice- share something encouraging/ amazing/ humbling that has happened to you recently!
Without a doubt - the warm welcome and time shared with 21 amazing women at the RGBP Big Event

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

A Million Dollar Friday Five

1. Tithe it to some ministries I want to support

2. Start on our family's dream to secure a place on Glen Lake, near the Sleeping Bear Dunes in Northern Lower Michigan

$1 million would not be enough for #2 :(


I've just returned last evening from one of the most joyous, worthwhile, transformational experiences I've ever had. Thanks to all the RGPBs whose welcome was warm...grace abounded 24-7!

I've gone dark (no, not with a suntan!!!) into anonymous blogging so that I can be real without fear.

The word I walked with over the past few days was Integrity. Not the first time this word has sat in my craw...and certainly not the last. But when I drew this word this time, I saw a period at the end of it - rather than a question mark, as had been the case awhile back when this word first started sitting on my shoulder. I am grateful, deeply grateful for the journey toward deeper integrity...and i look to this blog as a touchstone for the journey as it continues.

...I have procrastinated enough, and now I must face laundry and all the other stuff that calls my name back here somewhere south of somewhere.

Hugs and kisses and chocolate ice cream cones Lido Deck Aft to my RGBP sisters