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.