Friday, December 4, 2009

Friday Five - Do Nothing Edition

Over at RevGalBlogPals, Sally writes...

I am reading a wonderful little book for Advent it's title: "Do nothing Christmas is Coming!"

So this weeks Friday Five is simple.

List five things you won't be doing to prepare for Christmas.

1. I will not be buying presents for as many people this year; we have decided mutually to reduce gift buying and instead give goats and chickens, and a micro-loan or two.

2. I will not be responsible for all of the Advent and Christmas services in our congregation this year; we are blessed with a full staff again! This is a big issue since we have 4 services on Christmas Eve at 5, 7, 9, and 11 PM.

3. I will not be hosting anyone at our house on Christmas Day. Dear friends have invited us to their home for the afternoon!

4. I will not be driving further than 10 miles to celebrate Christmas Day. We will drive to my parents' home for Christmas celebrating on Saturday, December 26th.

5. I will not be sending Christmas cards, but will send an Epiphany letter to family and friends in early January.

Bonus: I really enjoy Marty Haugen's hymns of the season; for Advent, my favorite would be Awake, Awake, and Greet the New Morn. Unfortunately, I cannot find a video of it.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009


I borrowed this Thanksgiving-themed Random Dozen Meme from "Lidna" at 2nd Cup of Coffee. If you want to participate just go to Linda's site to link up.

1. Are you sticking to traditional Thanksgiving foods this year, or are you being culinarily adventurous? We’re going to my Mom and Dad’s for thanksgiving & it will be traditional. We are bringing the wine, salad and pumpkin pies. Mom always has enough food for an army - & there is always room at the table for friends as well as family. Because my brother and his family are not going to be able to be there on Thursday, we will do it all over again on a somewhat smaller scale with them at lunch on Friday.

2. Tell me something concrete that you're thankful for. (Something you can literally touch, see, etc., not a concept like "hope.") I'm thankful for our boys and how thoughtful and engaged they are with us.

3. You knew the flip side was coming: Share about something intangible that you're thankful for. For faith, hope, and love - all gifts of our gracious God.

4. Share one vivid Thanksgiving memory. It doesn't have to be deep or meaningful, just something that remains etched in your memory. That would be the Thanksgiving when Matt - just a year old - would not fall asleep. Craig and I knew the answer - to take him for a ride in the car. It was snowing lightly, but the roads were not in bad shape. My mom was very opposed to our intention - it was pretty ugly for an hour or so. But peace was made, and family boundaries more clearly defined - a good thing!

5. What is one thing that you know beyond a shadow of a doubt is going to happen this Thanksgiving because it always does, year after year?
We will eat, drink, and play cards!

6. Do your pets get any left-overs?
This year Maverick the younger managed to get his mouch into one of the four pumpkin pies! But other than that, no, they probably won't.

7. Does your family pray before the big meal? If so, do you join hands while seated, stand, repeat a formal prayer or offer a spontaneous prayer? Who does the praying?
Yes, we are seated, we join hands and one of the two of us who are ordained ministers offers a spontaneous prayer.

8. Will you be watching football in the afternoon? If not, what will you be doing?
It will be on, but I really won't be watching it.

9. There are two distinct camps of people on this issue: How do you feel about oysters in the dressing/stuffing? NO WAY!

10. Do you consider yourself informed about the first Thanksgiving? Yes I do – just got a refresher from some blog recently… hmmm… who was it? Oh yeah – Mark Roberts.

11. Which variety of pie will you be enjoying? It's got to be pumpkin!

12. Do you feel for the turkey??
Yes, I do - if I have any hand in preparing meat or poultry, my mind usually goes at least once to twice to thoughts of when this flesh moved and breathed.

Happy Thanksgiving to all of you!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Bye Bye Birdie Meme

Revsongbird writes

"I caught up on a Fresh Air podcast from last week and heard the exciting news. The Roundabout Theatre Company is staging the first ever Broadway Revival of Bye Bye Birdie!!!

If you're anywhere close to my age, you've seen it and maybe even been *in* it, so please chime in via the comments and tell us:

1) When you first saw Bye Bye Birdie and where;

Although our school system had outstanding music and speech departments, we did not have a drama program. As as result, I did not see a live production of Bye Bye Birdie until our sons' high school performed it last Spring.

2) If you performed in it, who you played; and

I didn't ever get to perform in it, but our son Music Man snagged and nailed the lead role of Albert Peterson! The Captain and I sat in the darkened theater with tears in our eyes as we watched him singing and dancing. "Is this really our son?!? WOW!"

3) What's your favorite song?

It's got to be "Put On a Happy Face."

Friday, July 3, 2009

Friday Five - It's All About the Look

Sally from RevGals writes: In readiness for my move in 6 weeks time I spent almost all of yesterday morning sorting through my wardrobe ( closet, I am so British :-) marvelling at how I had accumulated so much stuff! The result is three large sacks full of clothes to be given away. Some came into the category of " what was I thinking", some too big now ( at last), and others I will never shrink into again. Some are going simply because I want to streamline my wardrobe. So how about you: 1. Are you a hoarder, or are you good at sorting and clearing?

I am a hoarder. I am a sucker for sales. And because of some issues with weight gain and loss, I have three different sizes of clothing in my closet. I have recently discovered that I have hypothyroidism, and with treatment, it should be possible for me to reverse this weight gain. So maybe I can get the contents of my closet down to two different sizes ?!?

Right now, with the closet doors removed for painting, I am TOTALLY EMBARRASSED by what is going on in my closet. We have a rummage sale coming up at our church soon, and lots of clothing will be going there.

2. What is the oddest garment you possess and why?

It would be a silk kimono, given to me when I was an exchange student in Japan.

3. Do you have a favourite look/ colour?

Favorite look depends on the occasion, but I tend toward darker pants and skirts punctuated with shades of teal and turquoise, lilac and lavender, lime and lemon, and red.

4. Thrift/ Charity shops, love them or hate them?

I gladly and regularly donate to them, but don't often shop at them.

5. Money is no object, what one item would you buy?

Wow...I'm trying not to buy, so this one is hard! Maybe a long stylish sweater? But I could be gravitating toward that because it's still cloudy and cold here somewhere north of somewhere!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

The Best-Laid Plans

Well, I had planned to worship with a local congregation today. I had made up my mind where I would go, and then...we lost power at about 1:30 am during a series of storms. In the cottage, that means no lights, which isn't a deal-killer. But it also means no water, because we depend on a pump for it.

So, unable to get cleaned up, I worshiped by singing Morning Prayer quietly alongside the lapping waves of the lake's shore at about 7:30 am. It was peaceful, yet truly invigorating. I prayed and meditated with joy, and knew a deep and satisfying communion with God this morning.

I recently read a post by the lead pastor from Granger Community Church in Indiana, that noted that we pastors place a lot of guilt on our people about worshiping weekly as a spiritual discipline. He noted that people today find many different ways of experiencing God's presence, and that we pastors need to discover ways to help people grow in faith that aren't dependent on having their butts in the pew each week.

I love corporate worship, but after this morning's experience, I'm giving his post more thought.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

What I Am Reading/Doing on Vacation

When I go on vacation up north, I take lots of books...mindless as well as meaningful...
I've finished Abide With Me, by Elizabeth Strout, and Miracle, by Danielle Steele.
I have Olive Kitteridge, by Strout, Starting Over by Robin Pilcher, Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert, a Dorothea Benton Frank Low Country novel, and lots of other stuff.

Have some mags too...and a pair of socks I will finish on rainy days. Seems only right to do so, as I learned to knit here...

I baked a fresh peach pie today, and made some caprese salad this afternoon. Blogger is not being good about uploading pix, so I'll just leave it to your imagination

Oh, and as I was leaving for vacation came the news that the call that we at "Suburban Church near the Stateline" extended to an assistant pastor has been accepted!!! I will have a co-worker in the Gospel beginning August 1st.

Feeling quite creative and contented, thanks be to God.

RevGals Friday Five - Talkin 'Bout Pop Music

Mary Beth over at RevGalBlogPals, writes…The sad news of Michael Jackson's untimely death has me thinking about music and its effects on us - individually, as cultures, as generations. Let's think about the soundtracks of our lives...

1) What sort of music did you listen to as a child - this would likely have been determined or influenced by your parents? Or perhaps your family wasn't musical...was the news the background? the radio? Singing around the piano?

Our family listened to many different types of music, but one I remember with great fondness is Harry Belafonte’s Live album. The Captain and I picked up the cd a few years ago, and our teens enjoy it with us sometimes.

We sang a lot too. My mom sang with a Sweet Adelaines Chorus for awhile. My dad has a wonderful baritone voice. One of my most precious childhood memories is listening to him sing “O Holy Night” as we drove home from Christmas Eve services on a snowy night. The wind was blowing white around our little black VW bug and the car was just filled with his soulful singing.

2) Going ahead to teenage years, is there a song that says "high school" (or whatever it might've been called where you lived) to you?

Paradise by the Dashboard Light, by Meatloaf

3) What is your favorite music for a lift on a down day? (hint: go to and type in a performer/composer...see what you come up with!)

We have a compilation of island music that perks me up and gets me moving. It’s titled Thongs in the Key of Life 2

Another "pick me up" is Mr. Blue Sky by ELO

4) Who is your favorite performer of all time?

Wow, can’t pick just one! Harry Chapin, Dan Fogelberg, Jimmy Buffett

5) What is your favorite style of music for worship?

I enjoy the ancient hymns as well as new music. I can worship God with all of it. I do get particular about too many “me and Jesus” songs. I like worshipful singing that is expressive of the Body of Christ.

Bonus if you include a video of any of the above!

Harry Belafonte singing Matilda!

Friday, June 12, 2009

Friday Five - Trader Joe's Edition

RevGal Sophia is pumped! There's a new Trader Joe's gourmet grocery opening right across the street from her home. So in honor of the new Trader Joe's, this week's Friday Five is all about food shopping.

1. Grocery shopping--love it or hate it?
I like grocery shopping as a rule; I only find it annoying when I have to rush through it.

2. Who is the primary food shopper in your household?
That would be me.

3. Do you have a beloved store like TJ's which is unique to your location or family?
I enjoy shopping at our relatively new Costco, and at a couple of regional grocery stores. We also have a terrific meat shop that we frequent, especially during grilling season. We have to drive about an hour north to find a Whole Food or TJ's, and that doesn't happen very often. I was so happy to find a TJ's across from Peachtree UMC while at the Festival of Homies last month! I was a very happy camper with peanut-butter stuffed pretzel bits and greek yogurt.

4. How about a farmer's market, or CSA share, as we move into summer? Or do you grow your own fruits/veggies/herbs?
We do have many farmers' markets in our area, but only a couple of CSA's. I wanted to contract with a CSA this year, but the closest site available was too far away to justify the drive.

I grow tomatoes and basil for caprese salad, as well as rosemary, cilantro, and thyme.

5. What's the favorite thing you buy at the grocery store?
Hmmm...pasta and cheese for Italian cooking.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Friday Five - The Big To-Do

Kathryn from Revgals writes:
Greetings from the land of the Big To-Do!

It seems like every year I enter into the summer with a growing list of HUGE projects/events/trips that seem to have a permanent place on the 'to do' list.
This year I have a huge move pending so that takes up an entire list all on its own, but it doesn't take a big event like that for me to make plans bigger than my summer can hold!
How about you?

Is this the third summer in a row you have made a pledge involving your garage and actually getting a car into it?
Did you once again miss the registration deadline for the continuing education event of your dreams ?
Are you starting to think you couldn't even find the tents, let alone get it together to pull off a camping trip?

Here is your chance to get it out into the open and OWN your Big To-Do! Who knows? Maybe making the list will help you move the Big To-Do to the Big Ta-Da!

1) What home fix-it project is on your Big To-Do?
Well, considering that we are hosting Music Man's graduation party in exactly 22 days, the project is spruce up, clean-up the house, the deck and the yard.

2) What event (fun or work) is on your Big To-Do?
Calling a second pastor to our staff is a momentous to-do on the work front. I have been soloing it with the help of a one-day-a-week visitation pastor and some preaching back-up since August. It's time,'s time!

3) What trip is on your Big To-Do?
Our every-summer trip Up North, which is actually coming a whole month early this year for several reasons. 4 weeks from today - YEAH!

4) What do you wish was on someone ELSE's (partner, family member, celebrity, etc...) Big To-Do?
Oh...I think that would be Music Man and Game-boy getting the upstairs rooms they occupy cleaned-up and de-cluttered.

5) Getting inspired? What may end this summer having moved from the Big To-Do to the Big Ta-da?
The remodeling of both upstairs bathrooms really needs to be a Big Ta-da by the end of the summer, or someone's gonna be in some deep doo doo here.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Friday Five - Celebrating the Seasons of Life

Sally writes:
It is the first of May, or as I have been concentrating on dialogue with folk interested in the new spirituality movement this last week, it is Beltane, a time to celebrate the beginning of summer. The BBC web-site tells us that:

Beltane is a Celtic word which means 'fires of Bel' (Bel was a Celtic deity). It is a fire festival that celebrates of the coming of summer and the fertility of the coming year.
Celtic festivals often tied in with the needs of the community. In spring time, at the beginning of the farming calendar, everybody would be hoping for a fruitful year for their families and fields.
Beltane rituals would often include courting: for example, young men and women collecting blossoms in the woods and lighting fires in the evening. These rituals would often lead to matches and marriages, either immediately in the coming summer or autumn.

Another advert for a TV programme that has caught my eye on the UK's Channel 4 this weekend is called Love, Life and leaving; and is a look at the importance of celebrating the seasons of life through ritual and in the public eye, hence marriages, baptisms and funerals.

I believe that we live in a ritually impoverished culture, where we have few reasons for real celebration, and marking the passages of life;

1. Are ritual markings of birth, marriage, and death important to you?
Yes, I believe that ritual serves to connect us to the larger community and, in Christian tradition, to the promises of God that offer consolation, hope, and purpose.

2. Share a favourite liturgy/ practice.
We have our own liturgy/rite connected to the baptismal journey for those who are graduating from high school. It is not a baccalaureate so much; more of a celebration of this milestone. As we affirm our baptism, we also have the seniors and their parents gather at the communion rail for prayer. Firs, the students kneel, with the parents placing their hands on their son or daughter's shoulders. The presider offers a prayer tries to express the parents' feelings at this moment: awe at the years that have passed, hope for the future, gratitude for the privilege of being entrusted with this young person's life, confession for the times they've fallen short. Then the parents kneel, the students place their hands on their parents' shoulders, and a prayer from the students' perspective is spoken. We share the Eucharist, and then we have a dinner together and present gifts to the students.

This year, I need to find someone to help lead this liturgy...because our older son Music Man and we will be among those participating.

3. If you could invent ( or have invented) a ritual what is it for?
I will have to think about this one...

4. What do you think of making connections with neo-pagan / ancient festivals? Have you done this and how?
I think the closest connection we sometimes make around our neck of the woods is with the neo-pagan celebration of Super Bowl Sunday (tongue firmly implanted in cheek.) Here in the US, at least where I live, there isn't a great deal of awareness or interest in the ancients. But sometimes the nationalistic overtones present a challenge for us.

5. Celebrating is important; what and where would your ideal celebration be?
Word and Sacrament, followed by a great meal, music, and dancing. It could be anywhere, but I am especially fond of anything that happens near the water.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Friday Five - Bucket List Edition

Singing Owl writes: ... do you have a "Bucket List"? In other words, from the movie of the same name, five things you want to see, do, accomplish, etc. before you kick the bucket?

Sure, don't we all? Here's mine:

1. I want to live in Northern Lower Michigan for at least a few years.

2. I am beginning to think in a more focused way about pursuing an advanced degree - discerning this now and would cherish your prayers.

3. I want to go back to Japan once more - was there for a year as an exchange student, and will not feel as though that chapter has ended without another visit there.

4. I want the Captain and I to live aboard our beloved "Retreat" and cruise at least part of the ICW (intercoastal waterway).

5. And before I hit the big "5-0" next Spring, I want to be a Parrot-head at a live Jimmy Buffet concert! I think the Captain is clear on this - I hope he is working on it!

Friday, April 3, 2009

Friday Five- time out edition

Our sister Sally writes...

Holy Week is almost upon us, I suspect that ordained or not, other revgal/pals calendars look a bit like mine, FULL, FULL, FULL.....

Jesus was great at teaching us to take time out, even in that last week, right up to Maundy Thursday he withdrew, John's gospel tells us he hid! He hid not because he was afraid, but because he knew that he needed physical, mental and spiritual strength to get through...

So faced with a busy week:

1. What restores you physically?

I am restored by time outdoors...walking, riding my bike, etc. Yesterday I played my first round of golf in 2009 with a good friend. It was exactly what I needed to provide some balance to a week filled with worship planning and pastoral care.

2. What strengthens you emotionally/ mentally?
Adequate sleep and exercise.

3. What encourages you spiritually?
Praying the hours and time in the Word...beautiful, meaningful liturgies. Lately I have been quite grateful for Unfailin Lighta liturgy written for evening communion by Susan Briehl and Marty Haugen. We used this for our Lenten midweek services.

4. Share a favorite poem or piece of music from the coming week.

What Wondrous Love is This

5.There may be many services for you to attend/ lead over the next week, which one are you most looking forward to and why? If there aren't do you have a favorite day in Holy week if so which one is it?
By far, it would be Vigil of Easter. This year our Director of Spiritual Formation is working with several members to creatively share the narrative of salvation history. I can't wait...but I will!

Friday, March 20, 2009

Friday Five - Five Signs of Hope

Songbird writes...
My beloved speaks and says to me: “Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away; for now the winter is past, the rain is over and gone. The flowers appear on the earth; the time of singing has come, and the voice of the turtledove is heard in our land. The fig tree puts forth its figs, and the vines are in blossom; they give forth fragrance. Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away.
Song of Solomon 2:10-13

In the late, late winter, as the snow begins to recede here in Maine, we begin to look almost desperately for signs of spring, signs of hope that the weather has turned and a new day is on the horizon. For those of us in the Northern Hemisphere, Easter and Spring twine inextricably, the crocuses and daffodils peeking through the Earth as we await the risen Christ.

Share with us five signs of hope that you can see today or have experienced in the past.

1. The lengthening of the days is a sign of hope for me. Sunlight is a sign of hope for me. I can easily wake and make my way around in morning darkness, but evenings that bid farewell to sunlight even before we eat dinner are draining for me. We had a sign of hope this week as we could walk the dogs and watch the sunset well past 7:30 pm.

2. The pink buds forming on the branches of our dogwood trees and and the green tips of crocuses pushing through the soil are a delightful sign of hope for me.

3. Personally, fitting into a smaller size pant this week was a very hopeful sign for me!

4. Visiting with a member whose husband of 59 years died a week ago, I was gifted with a sign of hope through the healing tears we shed and the comfort she found as we prayed the Lord's Prayer together.

5. And perhaps the most beautiful sign of hope these past few weeks has been the children whom we now welcome to the Lord's Supper at whatever age their parents feel they are ready. The sight of preschoolers reaching for the bread and being guided by their parents to the cup gives me hope for the faith journey of this new generation of God's sons and daughters!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Slow Cooking Thursday March 5th Edition

What has happened this week so far: Many pastoral care issues, sandwiched between sermons (Sunday and midweek) and parish classes; 2 funerals in 10 days, another pending.

What's up for the weekend:
I'll be working at the Band Contest hosted by our high school Friday afternoon and evening and hearing Peter Cetera in concert with our local symphony Saturday evening. Guest preacher Saturday evening -Thanks Eric! Teen Choir Musical Sunday.

Song In My Head:
"Scenes from an Italian Restaurant" by Billy Joel

Progeny Story of the Week
Music Man landed the lead in local high school spring musical "Bye, Bye Birdie!"

I am procrastinating about:
the taxes STILL!

Scripture I am trying to wrap my head (and heart) around:
Mark 5:36 Overhearing what they said, Jesus told him, "Don't be afraid; just believe."

Favorite TV minute this week:
2 Hours of 24 Monday night
Unfavorite moment: didn't really watch enough TV to have one of these

What I am serving for dinner tonight (that I never got around to last week):

Chicken and White Bean Stew

  • 2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken thighs
  • 2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1/8 tsp. ground black pepper
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 10-oz. pkgs. refrigerated light Alfredo sauce
  • 1 15-oz. can Great Northern or white kidney beans (cannellini beans), rinsed and drained
  • 1 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup chopped red onion (1 medium)
  • 1 4-oz. can diced green chile peppers
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese (1 ounce) (optional)
  • Fresh parsley leaves (optional)


1. Cut chicken into 1-inch pieces. Sprinkle chicken with cumin and pepper. In a large skillet, cook chicken, half at a time, in hot oil over medium heat until brown. Place chicken in a 3-1/2- or 4-quart slow cooker. Stir in alfredo sauce, beans, broth, onion, chile peppers, and garlic.

2. Cover and cook on low-heat setting for 4 to 5 hours or on high-heat setting for 2 to 2-1/2 hours. If desired, sprinkle each serving with cheese and parsley. Makes 8 servings.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Friday Five - The Fork in the Road

Singing Owl writes: I am at a life-changing juncture. I do not know which way I will go, but I have been thinking about the times, people and events that changed my life (for good or ill) in significant ways. For today's Friday Five, share with us five "fork-in-the-road" events, or persons, or choices. And how did life change after these forks in the road?

1. The first significant fork in the road in my life was born out of tragedy. As a child of 8, I was molested by a 16 year-old neighbor boy in the woods behind our house. After raping me, he told me that if I told my parents, they would blame me, and I believed him. So I buried the clothing that bore signs of the attack in the ashes of our burn barrel and tried to bury my pain there as well. But as many of you know, it is not that easy. Looking back, my relationship with my parents began to became tenuous from that point on, and my trust in people, especially male people was nil. Our family moved to another community later that summer and I was relieved to not have to look at the place of my attack or the home of my attacker on a daily basis anymore. But it was not until I sought counseling in college, that I truly began to heal from this experience.

2. The second fork in the road was the choice I made to be an exchange student and spend my junior year of high school overseas. It was a year of wonder and amazing growth for me. It bolstered my increasing sense of independence and served to deepen my sense of God's presence with me apart from a community of faith, since there was no Christian faith community with which I could connect meaningfully in the area where I lived.

3. The third fork was surely the choice I made of where I would go to college. My experiences at my alma mater, including the faith community there, clarified the direction of my life journey. I gained friends that I still count among my dearest, and I heard and answered the call to the ministry of Word and Sacrament there, though I did not fully understand that at the time.

4. The next fork in the road came when I was in the call process for the first time, and the prospect of a call to a team and a solo position loomed before me. Although our bishop had his own opinion of the choice that would best suit me, it was not until I leaned toward the solo position and discussed this with him that he confirmed that as his recommendation as well. It was not easy, and the crucible of this inwardly focused congregation nearly pushed me away from pastoral ministry. But in the end, I know that I would have had a far more difficult time discerning my own pastoral identity if I had accepted the call to team ministry at that point in my life.

5. Although there are many more I could reference, the choice to explore the possibility of a relationship with a recently-divorced man from the congregation I served was a very difficult, but clearly God-ordained choice. In him, God granted me a man with whom I could truly trust everything about myself. In time, we joined our lives as one and he has been and continues to be a precious gift of God to me. It is a joy and a blessing to walk the road of life with him, forks and all.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Slow Cooking Thursday February 26th Edition

What has happened this week so far: Lots of time with people in the congregation; not enough time with family at home

What's up for the weekend:
Music Man has his second round of auditions; euchre with friends; maybe a visit from a college friend

Song In My Head:
"Jai Ho" from Slumdog Millionaire

Progeny Story of the Week
a GREAT pre-contest concert tonight for both sons!

I am procrastinating about:
sorting out my closet

Scripture I am trying to wrap my head (and heart) around:
Mark 5:36 Overhearing what they said, Jesus told him, "Don't be afraid; just believe."

Favorite TV minute this week:
Seeing the Tribe on TV season is here!
Unfavorite moment: didn't really watch enough TV to have one of these

What I intended to served for dinner tonight (but got too far behind this week to lay the ingredients in for): Chicken and White Bean Stew

  • 2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken thighs
  • 2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1/8 tsp. ground black pepper
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 10-oz. pkgs. refrigerated light Alfredo sauce
  • 1 15-oz. can Great Northern or white kidney beans (cannellini beans), rinsed and drained
  • 1 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup chopped red onion (1 medium)
  • 1 4-oz. can diced green chile peppers
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese (1 ounce) (optional)
  • Fresh parsley leaves (optional)


1. Cut chicken into 1-inch pieces. Sprinkle chicken with cumin and pepper. In a large skillet, cook chicken, half at a time, in hot oil over medium heat until brown. Place chicken in a 3-1/2- or 4-quart slow cooker. Stir in alfredo sauce, beans, broth, onion, chile peppers, and garlic.

2. Cover and cook on low-heat setting for 4 to 5 hours or on high-heat setting for 2 to 2-1/2 hours. If desired, sprinkle each serving with cheese and parsley. Makes 8 servings.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Slow Cooking Thursday

Molly over at Waiting for the Moment has begun a new weekly post called Slow Cooking Thursday. I've asked if I might adopt the theme too, as a blogging prompt.

So here is my first Slow Cooking Thursday (on Friday).

What has happened this week so far:
Music Man had his auditions at the Alma Mater Monday; now we wait. Got to catch up with college friends while there - so good to see them again! Congregation Council elected officers - new leadership team for the year. Local high school's student-written and produced musical opened last night. Got to see Music Man sing and play a knight in tights!

What's up for the weekend:
Friday is dinner with friends, and maybe some live music somewhere. Saturday will be boat show and Ikea. Visitation Pastor is preaching this weekend. I teach catechism Sunday afternoon - Hallowed Be Your Name - and then there is a funeral to conduct.

Song In My Head:
Coldplay's "Viva la Vida"

Progeny Story of the Week
Would have to be GameBoy's tremendous performance at his (and my) Taekwon-Do Black Belt Test last Saturday.

I am procrastinating about:
Doing our taxes.

Scripture I am trying to wrap my head (and heart) around:
Mark 1:12-13
And the Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness. He was in the wilderness forty days, tempted by Satan; and he was with the wild beasts; and the angels waited on him.

Favorite TV minute this week:
See Dr. John Carter return to the ER
Unfavorite moment: Seeing Dr. John Carter receiving a chemo treatment

Dinner for tonight (didn't think early enough to put something in the crock pot today) :
Ham Casserole
8 oz. pasta (bite-size), cooked and drained
2 C cubed ham
1 oz can mushrooms, drained
3 T butter
4 T flour
1 C chicken broth
1 C milk
dash of hot sauce
pepper and salt to taste
1 C shredded cheddar or swiss

Place pasta, ham, and mushrooms in greased casserole dish. Melt butter, whisk in flour until smooth. Slowly add broth and milk, stirring over medium low heat until thick and smooth. Add seasonings. Pour over ham and pasta mixture. Add cheese and stir together. Top with crushed saltines, if desired. Bake at 325 for 25-30 minutes.

Friday Five - Take a Break Edition

Songbird writes: Where we live, it's February School Vacation Week!

Yes, that's an odd thing, a vacation extending President's Day. But it's part of our lives here. Some people go South or go skiing, but we always stay home and find more humble amusements.

In that spirit, I offer this Taking a Break Friday Five. Tell us how you would spend:

1. a 15 minute break
2. an afternoon off
3. an unexpected free day
4. a week's vacation
5. a sabbatical

Songbird, what a great question!

1. The 15-minute break is the perfect length for a brisk walk. It's cold, but clear here...and there is no snow on the walks...yet. So, I would slip on my walking shoes (which I keep in the car) and get my heart rate pumping!

2. An afternoon off would give me time to tackle some work at home - purging my closet, or getting our taxes finished.

3. With an unexpected free day, I would probably head east to visit my parents and see a new exhibit of Japanese kimonos at a nearby museum.

4. There is no question as to what I would do with a week - I'd go north to Leelanau County. I haven't skied in awhile and I am nursing an injury to my shin and instep, so I am not sure that I would try that this week. But there are so many other great things to do there. In truth, it is enough just to "be" there.

5. Interesting that you should ask; I am due for one, and hope to take it in 2010. I would like to travel to Europe, specifically Germany and Great Britain. I am growing very interested in the LifeShapes way of being church that Saint Thomas Parish in Sheffield, England has been pioneering. I have been rereading The Passionate Church by Mike Breen and Wally Kallestad. But I think this emergent model needs to be seen and experienced first-hand. And I have a few friends across the pond that I'd love to see as well.

Now...I need a day off to start working on a grant application.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Friday Five - Pets Edition

Sophia writes: My son's tiny beloved lizard, Elf, is looking and acting strange this week. His skin/scales are quite dark, and he is lethargic. We are adding vitamin drops to his lettuce and spinach and hoping and praying that he is just getting ready to shed his skin--but it's too soon to tell. Others in the ring have also been worried about beloved pets this week. And, in the saddest news of all, Songbird has had to bid farewell to her precious Molly, the amazing dog who is well known to readers of her blog as a constant sacrament of God's unconditional love. So in memory of Molly, and in honor of all the beloved animal companions who bless our lives: tell us about the five most memorable pets you have known.

1. The first pet I can vaguely remember is Inky - a small, jet black terrier mix that my parents had when I was born. Bits and pieces of time on the floor with Inky are imprinted on my memory. My parents tell me that it was Inky's wagging tail that coaxed out my first bit of laughter.

2. We had a cat named Kitzer when I was in junior high and high school - a stray we found and homed who turned out to be a full-breed Maine Coon cat. Of all the cats we ever had, Kitzer by far had the most personality. She was affectionate - when she wanted to be of course. She loved to walk along the keys of our old player piano, and to climb inside and sleep where the player mechanism had once been housed. She also had a funny habit of tearing up and down the stairs of our home in the wee hours of the morning, complete with a low gutteral moan. We nicknamed her "Thunderpaws" for that. She epitomized the saying I saw recently - "Dogs have owners; cats have staff."

3. My first dog as an independent adult was a black cockapoo I found wandering without tags in the Wendy's parking lot near my first parish. I named her Muffin; she was my burnt muffin!
She was a wonderful companion, who often accompanied me to the church. She was also the first pet that I personally had to give over to God's care when she became ill with cancer. She lived long enough to see me marry and to lovingly welcome our firstborn. I have a non-digitized picture of her nosing Matt - making him laugh, the way Inky had coaxed laughter out of me 30 years before.

4. Mitchell was our next dog - a cock-a-poo whom we rescued. Mitchie loved to run, and we often found ourselves chasing him through the neighborhood. Neutering didn't diminish his wonderlust in the least; he would dig a way out under the fence, and bolt. Angels must have protected him as he bolted across busy streets on a few occasions; he always ended up in some kind person's yard, and, through their kindness, back home with us. He crossed the Rainbow Bridge when my boys were 7 and 5. Both boys still remember him and the tears we shed when we gave him over to God.

5. Position number five is shared by our two Portuguese Water Dogs - Mystic (age 8) and Maverick (age 5). These two are by far the brightest, sneakiest, and most endearing dogs with whom I have ever shared life! They are also the first full-breed dogs we chose, primarily for their non-allergenic properties. Rumor has it that the First Family may be making a similar choice!

I think we have found our favorite breed of dog in PWD's - we hope to retire on a lake someday, where they will be right at home in the water. Mystic is on the left; Maverick on the right.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Friday Five - My Favorite Things

Songbird writes...In a week of wondering how various things in our family life will unfold, I found myself thinking of the way Maria comforted the Von Trapp children in one of my favorite movies. Frightened by a thunder storm, the children descend upon her, and she sings to them about her favorite things, taking their minds off the storm. So, let's encourage ourselves. Share with us five of your favorite things. Use words or pictures, whatever expresses it best.

1. Water - lake, river, ocean...I feel most alive when I am near the water. We live just 15 minutes away from a river and one of the Great Lakes, so we spend a lot of time there. Here is a picture from Red, White, and Boom 2008.

2. Books - I probably own more books than anything else. I like the feel of them in my hand, but am beginning to learn to enjoy audiobooks too.

3. Patent-leather shoes - I caught this itch from my friend, Sandy. My favorite is a pair of Aigner black PL loafers.

4. Coffee - just love the flavor of a good cup of java. Don't do frappes or lattes - just lay it on me hot and black! And then sit me down with a game of Word Scrimmage or Sudoku, or my friends' blogs. My favorite brand is Leelanau Coffee Roasters.

5. Boat - I am really a** over teakettle for the 33" 1969 Chris Craft Cruiser that the Captain and I are reconditioning! We picked this boat up for $3900. It sleeps six, has a small galley and a head with shower. The refrigerator opens to the galley and the deck...great for entertaining! One of those absolutely amazing opportunities. Our goal is to restore it to its original 1969 sales guide look, with better fuel economy! Our son Music Man is in on it now too - working on the electrical system and the sound system, so this is really getting to be a family's labor of love. And boating season is just around the corner.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Friday Five - HGTV Edition

Will smama writes: As some of you may know I am in the midst of my first home purchase. It is a new-build and so some of the fun was picking out upgrades and major decor items to my taste rather than walking into a previously owned home that needed to be upgraded room by room (pink and teal tiles in the bathroom, anyone?). As much as decorating is not my thing, I did try to embrace the moment because just how many times do you get to have a do-over on kitchen cabinets/floors/countertops?

And so, my questions to you this fine Friday involve your home past, present or future...

1) If you could, what room in the place you are currently living would you redo first?
I would redesign our master bedroom and bathroom, if I may count them as one room - you walk through one door to get to both - and they both really need it!

2) What is the most hideous feature/color/decor item you have ever seen in a home?
The kitchen of my second home had dirty pine green carpet, maroon linoleum countertops and yellow walls - by far the worst combination I had ever seen!

3) What feature do you most covet? Do you have it? If not, is it within reach?
A full bath and walk-in closet in our master bedroom. I actually sketched out the idea several years ago. We have a bonus room, across from our bedroom, and we could claim it to expand the master and create a real master bath with the removal of just one wall. I would move the laundry upstairs too, so that the Captain could have the whole basement as his workbench.

Alas, we do not have it, and it will not be within reach for a very long time...
college costs come first.

4) Your kitchen - love it or hate it? Why?
I don't love it because it is a small galley-style kitchen. But I don't hate it, because we have done alot to make the best possible use of the space.

5) Here is $10,000 and you HAVE to spend it on the place you are living now. What do you do?

See number 3!
Since the Captain is very handy in matters of remodeling, we could probably make a pretty good dent in the plan with $10 K.

BONUS: Why do you think there was such a surplus of ugly bathroom tile colors showcased in all homes built from the 1950's right through the early 80's?
I wonder if psychotropic drugs had anything to do with it!

Friday, January 23, 2009

A RevGals' Cabin Fever Friday Five

Singing Owl has been having a time of it...her daughter's car wouldn't start, so she had to drive her to work. Which got her to thinking...
Here in snow country we are settled in to what is a very long stretch of potentially boring days. The holidays are over. It is a very long time till we will get outside on a regular basis. The snow that seemed so beautiful at first is now dirty and the snow banks are piling up. Our vehicles are all the same shade of brownish grey, but if we go to the car wash our doors will freeze shut. People get grumpy. Of course, not everyone lives in a cold climate, but even in warmer places the days till springtime can get long. Help! Please give us five suggestions for combating cabin fever and staying cheerful in our monochromatic world?

1. We like to put a fire in the fireplace in the evenings.

2. I cook more comfort food in the crock-pot in the winter. And on my day off each week, I usually make homemade soup and serve it with crusty french bread.

3. It helps me when I have a trip to which I can look forward. We booked a quick trip to Florida to watch our sons march at Disney World. And of course, we've got the RevGals BE 2.0 coming in April.

4. I keep the candles in the windows until Spring - there's just something about driving home down our unlit street and seeing the light glowing in each window!

5. And yes, I snuggle up with the Captain!

Friday, January 16, 2009

Friday Five - Take Me, Baby, or Leave Me

Songbird writes...Although written by a young man, the song Take Me, Baby, or Leave Me from "Rent" became an anthem for women of a certain age ready to be taken on their own terms. Maureen and Joanne love each other, but they are *very* different.

Whether it's new friends or new loves or new employers, what are five things people should know about you?

1. I love coffee. I don't usually "love" inanimate objects, but there is something about the taste of coffee, hot and black, that makes my day. It's not the caffeine either...I just enjoy the taste of a great cup of coffee. My favorite beans come from the Leelanau Coffee guys in Northern MI.

2. I was born to worship. Leading worship is what I love most about being a pastor. And it doesn't matter whether we are using a full liturgy or a more praise-oriented service. I enjoy leading it all. I especially cherish presiding over the sacraments of baptism and holy communion.

3. I am at home on or near the water. Inland lake or river, or ocean. I relax, sleep better, and as a rule thrive when I am on the water. In retirement, I want to live aboard our 33' cruiser and cruise the Intercoastal, but my husband says he won't live where he can't have a tool shed. Rats!

4. I enjoy cooking as an expression of creativity. I like to try new recipes, rather than repeat the "old faithfuls". This week I tried my hand at Beef Bolognese sauce for calzones and lasagna. The fam says its a "keeper". And it will be, 'til I find a recipe that intrigues me even more!

5. I have more clothes than I need. In part, because I spent awhile (and a few dollars) trying to find my own personal style, and trying in vain to fit into one size. Oh well, if we ever live on the boat, I'll get rid of a lot of my clothes and the Captain can divest himself of a lot of tools :)

Friday, January 9, 2009

Friday Five - Pancake Edition

Sophia writes: Last week Sally gave us a beautiful, spiritually reflective Friday Five, so it's time for something light and fluffy (literally). It's inspired by the fact that as I write this my dear spouse TechnoGuy, with the assistance of daughter Ladybug, is making a batch of chocolate chip pancakes with two Christmas presents. One is the Knott's Berry Farm mix which came along with jam, boysenberry syrup, and biscuit mix from my aunt (we ended up with two sets, since my parents passed theirs on to avoid sweet and carb-y temptation). The other is the large size Black and Decker electric skillet he was thrilled that I got him online -- our trusty wedding present normal size one still works at going on 20 years, but the Teflon is getting worn, and he wanted more cooking space. So pull up a chair to the kitchen table and tell us all about your pancake preferences.

1. Scratch or mix? Buttermilk or plain?
I have never been a real pancake fan, but I will eat them when we make them at home. The Captain usually makes them at our house. He uses Bisquick, as a rule. SO...mix and buttermilk. I also eat them when my mom serves them at my parents' bed and breakfast. She makes them from scratch.

2. Pure and simple, or with additions cooked in?
I do like pumpkin pancakes and blueberry pancakes...mmmm!

3. For breakfast or for dinner?
We usually have pancakes for Sunday lunch after all of us are home from church. Not too often for breakfast or for dinner.

4. Preferred syrup or other topping? How about the best side dish?
We usually eat them plain and simple - topped with syrup and butter. I prefer some fresh fruit and a very light sprinkle of powdered sugar best of all. The syrup route is far too sweet for my tastes. Sausage links and chunky applesauce are the best side dishes at our house.

5. Favorite pancake restaurant?
Locally - IHOP. Favorite place overall is Art's Tavern in Glen Arbor, MI and its sibling location the Friendly Tavern in Empire.

Bonus: Any tasty recipes out there, for pancakes or other special breakfast dishes? Bring 'em on!

Pumpkin Pancakes are my favorite:
1 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon Baking Powder
1 1/2 teaspoon Pumpkin Pie Spice
1/4 teaspoon Baking Soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 egg
1/4 cup canned pumpkin
1 1/2 cups milk
3 tablespoons cooking oil

In medium bowl stir together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and pumpkin spice. And in another bowl, beat the egg, canned pumpkin, milk and oil. Add flour mixture to the milk mixture and stir just till blended, but still lumpy. Pour about 1/4 cup of batter for each pancake onto a hot griddle or heavy skillet. Cook over medium heat till browned, turning to cook second side of pancakes. Makes about 10 pancakes.

Image courtesy of

Friday, January 2, 2009

Beginnings and Endings Friday Five

Sally writes: This Celtic Mandala represents life, noting how days and years turn from one to another. As we have stepped from 2008 into 2009 some of us look back with joy and others with sadness; probably most of us with a mixture of the two.

As we look back we may come to understand how God has worked in and through us in joy and sadness. how we have grown against what may seem impossible odds. As we look forward we may do so with expectation, and we may do so with fear and trembling. As we look back and forward in New Years liminality I offer you this simple yet I hope profound Friday Five in two parts:

First list five things that you remember/ treasure from 2008 (not in any specific order)
1. The birth of Cindy, our second grandchild
2. The Rev Gals BE 1.0 that joined me to this community of Christ in a deeper way
3. The trip that Game Boy and I got to take with Meemah to Colorado in June
4. The opportunity to witness our sons really come into their own in high school this year
5. The opportunity to see "our German daughter" Nora again in August 2008

Then list five things that you are looking forward to in 2009
1. The opportunity to see our grandchildren (and their parents :p ) two weeks from today
2. The opportunity to welcome Nora back for a two-month stay this summer as she completes a clinical rotation
3. Witnessing Music Man graduate from high school and get established in college (this one is bittersweet)
3. The opportunity to see a vision that God has given for our congregation and community come to fruition
4. Our congregation calling a colleague in ministry

As we read one another's blogs today Sally invites us to leave a word of encouragement and to pause to pray for each member of Revgals as we step into a New Year. And she offers this New Year Blessing from the Iona Community:

We stand to face the future:
God behind us in the past
Christ before us; the way ahead;
Christ beside us in this moment;
Christ beneath us in our weakness;
Christ above to shield us-
beneath the shadow of his wings we are safe;
Christ between us to bind us in the unity of his love;
Christ in us equipping us with his all sufficient grace.
Thus armed and guided, and protected we face the new year.
Now we arise and go forth on the journey before us,
knowing that, where Christ leads, life is a journey home.
Therefore we travel in faith, in hope, and in love,
in the name of the Father/ Mother, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.
May the blessing of God
be upon us
all this year
and into eternity. Amen.