26 December 2009

Could it be?

I haven't posted in a long while. I didn't have much to say, but now I ask prayers of all my RevGalBlogPals -- I preach my candidating sermon on 10 January with the congregational meeting/vote to follow. It's not the first call church I was looking for -- that would have been much closer to my family, with better finances, a building in better condition, and all those other things we would like for our church to have :) -- but it IS where God is calling me.

It's part time (for now at least) because giving and attendance are down in the 18 months since their pastor of 13 years left; but it does include a manse and utilities, so, with care, the money should be sufficient. Membership is around 140, attendance around 70 (not sure how many of those are just no-shows and how many are homebound). They have an interim, but I get the impression from several of the PNC that they just need to be shown that they are still loved and not abandoned, and still worthy of a REAL pastor (they're almost at the point of not being able to afford an ordained Minister).

I'll be preaching on the Isaiah text for the 10th: I have called you by name and you are mine...you are precious in my sight and honored, and I love you.

04 December 2009

Friday Five Do Nothing Edition

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

So this week's Friday Five is simple.

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

And while you are doing nothing play the bonus, put your feet up and listen to your favorite Advent Carol, and post it or a link to it...

so, what am I NOT doing...

  1. I am not preaching, because, although the PNC and I decided back on 12 October, this is a slow process and the fat lady has not yet sung.
  2. I am not buying a lot of presents because, well, I just finished 3 years of seminary and am not yet employed (and DH is on short term disability). (Although buying an old goat in Dad's name is an attractive option even if he doesn't get the joke)
  3. I am not decorating, because both DH and I are temporarily partially incapable and we're probably going to skip town anyway--to go see the families for Christmas on this last Christmas I'll be free to travel (God willing!).
  4. I am not singing in the choir, reading or otherwise involved in the Christmas service, for the first time in lo, these many years.
  5. I'm not cooking or baking or whatever. I'll go to Mom's house for Dinner! (I'll go to Dad's, too, but Step-Mom doesn't get the gluten thing and can't be bothered, so I won't eat there.)
Christmas carol? I'd like to say "My Christmas" by Brett Williams, but I can't find it on YouTube. it's a hoot, if you can find it!

I like so many carols, and I'm a choir geek, so I sing the tenor line as we walk through stores (and not just to embarrass my husband!). But today, I'll choose a modern carol: "Strange Way to Save the World" by 4Him

19 August 2009

searching questions

OK, so I don't post often. I'm an unrepentant introvert which means I'm more lurker than commenter and very rarely Blogger. But I want to lay a question out there in the blogosphere:

What did you wish you had known about the church before you accepted a call?

in other words, what should I be asking these committees? I finally got a nibble (after 3 months and WAY too many rejections). I've checked out the church's basic statistics with the national judicatory, so I know numbers for membership, attendance, giving, etc. But what questions do you ask when you're feeling out a call? and which ones do you ask, but later in the process (could I see a copy of your budget?)

10 August 2009

A meditation on Psalm 130

I had a fun time wrestling with the text this week. It's sinking in that I am unemployed; a couple more rejection letters came; longterm frustrations with DH recurring; some sort of bug dropping my serotonin just to magnify everything else; and then my grandmother (not unexpectedly) died. I think I needed the sermon more than the congregation, but it's not a bad pulpit supply lesson -- although perhaps a bit more teachy than preachy.

When I began seminary three years ago, I didn’t have a very good knowledge of the psalms. I knew snippets from here and there, after all, they in all sort of songs we sing! I had memorized the 23rd, the 100th, and the 1st; but I didn’t have the depth and breadth of understanding of the psalms that I had of much of the rest of the Bible. After all, they’re so…. Different. These are the emotions and prayers and hymns of people from thousands of years ago. This is the age of rational, "just the facts ma’am", study. And they’re Poetry. And poetry loses something in the translation. What can 4000 year old poetry tell me about God? or about me? I was a computer science major. An engineer. I didn’t go for those emotional bits of the Bible.

Then, last summer, while I was doing a chaplaincy internship at UPMC, I encountered a woman in the hospital who was facing a terminal diagnosis. This woman had been taught that to express any uncertainty or fear was a lack of faith. That it was an insult to God to have doubts and fears. So I took her for a walk through the psalms.

The Psalms are a treasure trove of emotion: great joy, great sadness,great anger, great despair, determination, and thanksgiving. The full spectrum of human emotion. Because God made us to have emotions and God created out bodies with adrenaline and serotonin and endorphins and all sorts of hormones that run wild with those emotions. God expects us to have emotions including fear and even despair. Just look at David, a man after God’s own heart. Look at some of the psalms he wrote. OY! That’s emotion. The psalms help us give voice to our emotions and even to express those emotions to God.

I was originally going to use this Psalm as a secondary text, but then, as I spent time with it this week and as I studied it, it really started to resonate deep within me. Now, bear with me a moment, but I came to truly appreciate this psalm when I went through it in Hebrew. Poets like to use words with layers of meaning and words that play off one another. The Psalmist was no exception. I’m not going to turn this into a Hebrew lesson :) but there are some things that the English translation just plain loses.

If you look closely at your Bibles, you’ll notice that verses 1, 3a, 5, and 7 have “the Lord” in small caps while verses 2, 3b, and 6 have “the Lord” in regular text. The poet is using 2 different ways of referring to God. The first one, the one rendered in small caps in your Bible, is the Name Of God. Somewhere along the line, Jewish Rabbis had decided that you couldn’t take the name of God in vain (that’s number 3 on the big list); anyway, you can’t take the name of God in vain if you never say it. To honor this concern, Christian translators have usually followed their example. So name of God, YHWH, is shown in your Bibles as Lord in small caps. You can distinguish it from the regular word for lord if you know what you’re looking for, but as translated, it won’t be spoken and inadvertently taken in vain, and most of the time it doesn’t make a big difference in reading the passage. But in this psalm, it’s important to note that the poet is going back and forth between the personal, intimate name of God and God’s title as Lord.

It’s like being on a first name basis with the Queen: she may be Lizzie, Mom, or Grandmum in private; but never forget that she is “Your Majesty”.

The use of the title of “Lord” for God reminds us that we’re dealing with the great Lord and creator of the universe to whom we owe our very existence. The personal name reminds us that we worship a God who desires relationship, who has granted us the right to come and call Him by name. By alternating between these two forms of address, the Psalmist reminds us of the power and majesty, as well as the love and approachability of God. By holding these extremes in tension, the poet squelches our human tendency to consider God as EITHER forceful and distant OR loving and manageable. So, a little later, when the poet speaks of our sin and God’s forgiveness, it is with a full understanding that it is loving grace that allows us to approach; it is also what allows the poet to tell the rest of the congregation in v7 and 8 that God has the power and will to redeem us from all our iniquities. God’s not going to let our sins keep him away from his children and God has the wherewithal to make that happen.

So, now that we have permission to come before the Holy One of Israel, what is the occasion under which we approach? “Out of the depths I cry to thee”, the depths were chaos, frequently used to refer to the realm of the dead, a metaphor for great distress, even unto death. That’s where the poet is, in distress and chaos, basically in a place he considers like hell. We’ve most of us been in a similar place. You know how that feels. So what does the poet do? Does he throw a pity party? Does he tell God it’s unfair? No. In verse 5 he says “I will wait for YHWH”. That sounds rather bland and boring. Not “send down your angels to rescue me NOW!” not “I will climb out of the pit” just, “I will wait for YHWH”. For this we read the psalm? To watch a man sit at a bus stop? But there is a strong lesson here. The Hebrew word for “wait” and for “hope” are the same. There are 2 different words used in verse 5, the first translated “wait”, and the second “hope” but either Hebrew word could be translated either way. The Hebrew language doesn’t separate Hope in God from Waiting for God. The Hebrew word means to wait with expectation. We know it’s coming, we’re just _waiting_ for it. The big difference in the two words is that the first means more to endure, still with expectation; and the second is used only for faith in God.

So now lets look at that again, the poet’s life is in the pits. But he’s going to endure, to persevere, putting his expectation in the word of God. But what does that mean, God’s “Word”? Well, this side of the reformation, our first thought is scripture, and the Torah would have been part of the poet’s thought, but he certainly didn’t just mean the words on the page. Here again we have a Hebrew word that just doesn’t translate well into English. The word here means word/event/deed. Inseparable. What you say IS what you do, total integrity. After all, this is the God who spoke creation into existence. word/event/deed are all one. The poet is choosing to trust God in the context of everything God has said/promised/done for His people. It wasn’t just “how does my personal life look right now” it was, “How has the Holy One of Israel dealt with his chosen people through history?” In other words, to wait in expectation on the Lord is to quit asking “why?” or “why me?” or “when will it be over?”, and start looking at WHO is in control.

Who is in control? Verse 7 reminds us the primary attribute of God on which the poet was depending. Not omnipotence, omniscience, immutability or any of those other concepts we actually inherited from Greek religions. No, the primary attribute of God to the Jewish people and therefore to the poet was hesed. Hesed – it has been translated here as steadfast love, others translations use loyalty, goodness, kindness; the KJV uses lovingkindness (one word), others use fidelity, or occasionally, mercy. The most important thing in putting our trust in God is God’s love and care for us. And God’s history of care that shows us God is reliable.

The Israelites used to rehearse their history of salvation all the time. Just to say “the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob” was to recall the stories of each of these men and their interactions with God. Many prophets begin with, “The Lord who brought you out of Egypt” – the Jews are admonished to never forget the history of God’s work with them. And the story of God’s work with the Jews is the story of God’s steadfast love.

Puritans were encouraged to keep a diary to examine the work of God in their lives. Each person examined their spiritual growth and insights, but they also used these diaries to record answers to prayer and the places where they saw God’s hand moving in their life – what they called “the providences of God”. Then, they would go back and read these diaries, some would even underline and dog-ear passages to find them more readily, and these Puritans would use the diaries to bolster their faith when life was rough. As one Puritan woman recorded (in her diary of course!): “My own experience has ever proved to me that thou art the God that has fed me my whole life long, the God that didst never leave me upon the mount of difficulty, but always appeared and wrought deliverance[i] The diaries served much like a family photo album or memory book and the woman was like a child going through the stories with her father, recalling all the times he’s been there for her. Not abstract stories of someone else’s life, but clear, first hand experiences from her own. She remembers all the times the Father has been there and she knows he will continue to be. She didn’t dwell on the bad things happening in her life, she didn’t look for someone else to blame, she moved forward in life, remembering the God that would see her through. She remembered her personal experience of God’s hesed, God’s steadfast love, and she could trust that it would continue – even if it didn’t make sense now. Let’s look at that psalm again, with what we know now:

1 Out of the depths I cry to you, O YHWH.

2 Lord, hear my voice!
Let your ears be attentive to the voice of my supplications!

3 If you, O YHWH, should account for iniquities;
Lord, who could stand?

4 But there is forgiveness with you, thus you may be revered.

5 I endure for YHWH, my soul perseveres,
and in his word and deed I will hope.

6 my soul waits for the Lord
more than those who watch for the morning,
more than those who watch for the morning.

7 O Israel, hope in YHWH!
For with YHWH there is steadfast love,
and with him is great power to redeem.

8 It is he who will redeem Israel from all its iniquities.

There we are. Life isn’t always what we want or what we think it ought to be. We can’t truthfully say we understand why rotten things happen. Some times we don’t like the place we’re in. But we remember WHO is in control; who is the Lord of the universe and of our lives. And we can remember what God has done for us in the past. In the midst of the depths, when life doesn’t make sense, I will endure, trusting the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob; the God who gave his son to redeem our iniquities, I will trust God to do what is right in the context of all humanity and all time. That’s not always an easy thing to do. That’s why we remember all of God’s providences like the Puritans did. By remembering the past providences of God we are free to trust our lives to him even when we don’t understand. We’re free to say “I don’t know what’s going on, but I know I can trust God to come through this time, because I remember how God has come through for me before.”

Thanks be to God.

21 July 2009

Sermon on feeding the 5000 (John 6:1-4 with Eph 3:7-21)

This sermon is not the one I worked on all week. This is the one that rewrote itself Saturday afternoon. It is something they needed to hear, but nothing something I would have planned to say as a pulpit supply; but I am told the Spirit was in it's delivery. I came out thinking it never really came together, but many who heard it say it did. God is good. The Spirit does indeed have our backs in the pulpit. This is also (of course) not exactly as delivered.

Jesus has been performing miracles and teaching to the crowds, but he has pulled away with his disciples to get in a little teaching time with them, away from the crowd. There are still many things they need to know, things he can’t say in front of the crowds, so they go up a mountain to get away. But that isn’t to be. The crowds have had a taste of miracles and they want to see more. They’re intrigued by this teacher, this prophet, and they wonder if he could be the promised one. Remember, Israel is occupied by the Romans, and they want to be free. Civil and religious writings tell us there were many messiah pretenders in the time before and after Jesus; most advocating revolt against the political power of Rome. The crowd wonders if this might be the one. So they follow.

It is also important to know the time of year. Our passage tells us that it was close to Passover. Passover – when the Jews celebrate liberation from Egyptian domination. When God caused the plagues and parted the Red Sea, then cared for them for forty years in the desert feeding them miraculously every day as God rained down bread from heaven. The great Prophet Moses had told them that one day there would come a prophet like him. These people’s imaginations were looking for that promised “prophet like Moses”. Jesus had just said (in verse 5:46 ) “If you believed Moses, you would believe me, for he wrote about me.”

Maybe this miracle worker was the prophet Moses wrote about. Maybe they’d finally be free of the Romans! So they follow and crowd around. But it’s getting late. And no one has food. And there are no parkway plazas or fast food restaurants to stop in. As a matter of fact, the crowd is bigger than most villages nearby. They wouldn’t have resources to feed that many extra people. So what is Jesus to do? Ah, a prime teaching moment. He turns and asks the disciples.

Jesus has set up the context. It is Passover time. He spoke of the fact that Moses wrote about him. What presumption! And they’ve gone up the mountain to receive teaching – like Moses went up Mt Sinai. Now the hungry masses need to be fed like God fed them at Moses’ request when they were in the wilderness. Jesus is gearing up for the punch line. To see if the disciples have started to understand what he’s been teaching. Jesus turns and asks the disciples. He knows what he’s going to do. And he knows He can do it. but do the disciples get it? Jesus turns and asks the disciples.

In the other gospels, the disciples recommend that Jesus send the people away to find their own food. Now there’s a solution. Punt. Walk away from the entire predicament. “Not my problem. They brought it on themselves when they didn’t pack a lunch. Send them away, Let’s get back to that special teaching you had in mind, Jesus.” They chose to ignore the plan.

Jesus didn’t accept that proposal. That wasn’t His plan. Jesus turns and asks the disciples.

Phillip sees the enormity, the impossibility of the task. It would take more than 6 months’ wages to buy enough bread to give them a little, let alone actually FEED them– and that’s assuming they could even find that much to buy. Phillip sees all the reasons it won’t work and starts listing them. He laughs at the plan.

Jesus didn’t accept that, either. He had a plan, he knew what he was going to do. Jesus turns and asks the disciples.

Andrew doesn’t understand either, but he trusts Jesus to know what’s going on. So, he says, here’s a kid with his lunch. Just enough for the one child. “what is that among so many?” Maybe he was discouraged, maybe he was hopeful, maybe he was daring Jesus; we don’t know. But Andrew chose to give the information Jesus to see what he would do with it.

NOW Jesus acts.

of course, Jesus could have done it without the child’s lunch. In the temptation stories, Satan tempts Jesus to turn stones into bread, so he must have been able to. So Jesus could have taken that route. But he didn’t. God, throughout history has worked primary through people. Even parting the Red Sea, God had Moses hold up his staff. God doesn’t do all the work while we sit back and watch. He expects us to play our part, to make our contribution.

Ah, there’s the rub. We’re supposed to make our contribution and there are some common mistakes we make when God asks for our contribution.

The first mistake we tend to make is when, like Phillip or the other disciples, we try to take over the plan. God asks us to play a role and we try to come in and direct the play. "Lord, you can’t really mean THAT, this would be so much more practical." Or "This is how we do things here, so just move over and I’ll show you." "God, this thing I’m comfortable with would be sooo much better than what you’re planning on doing."

Sounds kinda silly when I put it that way, but come on, be honest. We’ve all done it sometime.

Sometimes we do this here in the church, because, we think the plan is to be and do what we’ve always been and done even though the neighborhood and the world and even we are very different; we’ve quit listening and we’re working on old instructions. Sometimes we think the plan for our church is to be just like that church down the road, as if different churches and different people didn’t have different jobs assigned in the kingdom. In either case, we come to God with a list of what WE think our programs and outreach should be instead of listening for God’s plan. Sometimes instead of listening to God, we listen to what the media and culture tell us church should be. We end up being like the disciples who didn’t want to participate, or like Phillip who just criticized the plan.

God knows what God is going to do: here at [our church], and in each of your lives. Just like Jesus knew. He asked the disciples as a test. And they didn’t do too well. Hopefully we’ll do better; because if [our church] is to be a healthy Body of Christ it won’t get there by following our plan. Not by following [Pastor]’s plan or even session’s plan. We have to follow God’s plan; get our plans in line with his, then we will succeed -- because we got on board with the winning plan.

A second mistake we make when God asks for our contribution is by withholding what we’ve got. Not giving what he asks of us. Maybe that’s from selfishness. After all It’s MINE, I earned it! Sunday Morning is my only time to sleep in, I deserve that.

And what does scripture say about that? In Psalms, God says that “every animal of the forest is mine, and the cattle on a thousand hills.” God created this earth and everything in it and on it belongs to Him. You are given the responsibility to watch over some of God’s world (and some of God’s children); but you’re just the steward, the caretaker, not the owner. James tells us “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father”. And Job told us “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The Lord gives and the Lord takes away; may the name of the Lord be praised.” And don’t forget the Parable of the rich man who built extra warehouses to store all his wealth. “God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’ This is how it will be with anyone who stores up things for himself but is not rich toward God.”

Everything we have, and everything we are belongs to God. Ever wonder why we use the term, “I gave my life to Christ”? He has a plan to use you, your life, this church, but he asks for your willing contribution.

Sometimes we withhold our contribution because we fear it is so little. Look back at our storey, Barley loaves and fishes – dinner rolls and anchovies (the fish would have been pickled so they didn’t spoil, and little fish like anchovies were common in that area) – a poor boy’s box lunch. And look what Jesus did with that!

Another guy who called himself the least of men, the greatest of sinner, was described by one contemporary writer as “a man little of stature, thin-haired upon the head, crooked in the legs, of good state of body, with eyebrows joining, and nose somewhat hooked.” This man didn’t deserve anything, had little to commend himself, but became the great apostle to the Gentiles, speaking in the great Greek halls of learning, because Paul gave what he had to the Lord.

So, instead of complaining about what we do not have, or using it as an excuse for not following God’s plan, we need to give thanks to God for what we do have, and God will make it go farther; just like those barley loaves and fishes.

I went to a concert on Friday night, and heard a song about this passage by a man who, 13 years ago, was given 6 months to live. After surgery to remove the brain tumor, he says he was reading the parable and thought, “pretty good for 5 loaves and 2 fishes”, so he asked God “what can you do with a brain tumor and a guitar?” the answer: 12 year (so far) recording and concert career; a chance to tell people all over the world about the hope he has in Jesus, even though his cancer has recurred.

But letting go is scary. Letting go of our plans and searching for God’s plan is scary. But we are free to give because Jesus loves us; and perfect love casts out fear. If we know the all-powerful God loves us and wants the best for us, we don’t need to protect our own interests. Sometimes it hard because we don’t understand, because, by human standards, things are NOT going well. But still, as Christians, we place our trust: our lives, our talents and our money in the hands of a God who loves and cares for us.

A God who dwells in our hearts through faith. As Paul says, “I pray that you may have the power to comprehend, with all the saints, what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

Filled with the Holy Spirit, we can let go of our own agendas and get on board with God’s plan to be the people and the church He wants us to be. All the different gifts and skills needed to accomplish God’s plans for [our church] are here in [our church]. But God leaves it to us whether we will bring them forward. God knows there’s not enough in what we bring to accomplish his plan, but God who by the power at work within us is able to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine, will multiply our gifts to fulfill his plans. Look what he can do with 5 loaves and 2 fishes, or with a guitar and a brain tumor, and who on earth knows what he will do with your gifts.

28 May 2009


Today I will graduate from seminary.

Three years ago we sold our house and moved 2 states away so I could go to seminary. I quit my job/career and DH took a part time job at a grocery store to help pay bills.

It's been a long road, with health issues, and the fear of returning to academia alongside kids who were born after I got my undergraduate degree.

Today I graduate. Health issues are (largely) resolved and the job search has begun. Soon (God willing) we will sell this house and pack everything up to move to another state and start life over again. The kitties are now 9 and 11, I'm pretty sure they won't like that part. The humans are 46 and 57, they're not thrilled either.

Next week we head out, for a final (God willing) visit with CPM and then to Atlanta for the face to face at the Big Tent event, so I can convince someone to take the time to see if God is calling this first call, middle aged woman to their church.

But today, I graduate. A master of divinity. Yeah, right. :)

22 May 2009

Vacation Friday Five

Mary Beth over at RevGalBlogPals says: Let's think about VACATIONS! I certainly am!

1) What did your family do for vacations when you were a child? Or did you have stay-cations at home?
I went to summer camp some years and we did family vacations alternate years.

The biggest was Dad deciding we would fly to Vegas, rent a car, and see the west. I think my brother was 13 and I was 11. Yeah. That was fun. not. Although we do have pictures of Dad giving a burro water from a "for radiators only" tank in death valley (which we drove through with AC blazing despite the warning signs).

Then there were the trips to Dad's conferences which he turned into family vacations. It worked for me. I got to go to the Bahamas, to Disney World (the year it opened!), Sanibel Island...

2) Tell us about your favorite vacation ever:
Probably the 10 day trip to Ireland where DH and I just rented a car and drove where we wanted, staying in B&Bs using the coupons that were part of the package. Each evening we would decide what to do for the next day. It was great.

3) What do you do for a one-day or afternoon getaway...is there a place nearby that you escape to on a Saturday afternoon/other day off?
I do not. I need this, I just never found it here.

4) What's your best recommendation for a full-on vacation near you...what would you suggest to someone coming to your area? (Near - may be defined any way you wish!)
I have no idea. I moved here three years ago for seminary, and have seen little. Need to figure out the touristy things for next week with the folks are in town for graduation! (although the amusement park is probably out of the picture with them)

5) What's your DREAM VACATION?
Mountains, River, Kayak, hammock, good books.

Bonus: Any particularly awful (edited to add: or hilarious) vacation stories that you just have to tell? ("We'll laugh about this later..." maybe that time is now!)
Well, on the aforementioned trip out west, my family had our first taste of fresh cherries from a roadside stand in CA. We'd never had fresh cherries because they didn't truck them to our part of the states back then. Well, the whole family enjoyed quite a number of those cherries. We didn't make much mileage the next day, but we found lots of interesting rest areas!

20 February 2009

taking a break...

Songbird, over at RevGalBlogPals offers us the following Friday Five:

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 -- tea, earl grey, hot.

2. an afternoon off -- wandering the mall. Window shopping, just getting out and moving. No money to spend, but at least away from the desk and the papers!

3. an unexpected free day -- Heard a sermon in class on the unexpected blessing of a snow day; but snow days don't allow for much more than maybe -- shocking -- non-class reading! I seem to remember something called "novels." At this point that would be quite novel.

4. a week's vacation -- down to best place on earth! We are going to get to the river in the early summer. Hopefully I'll also be interviewing in the area.

5. a sabbatical -- I think I am just sort of completing a 3-year sabbatical. Some of my seminary friends point out that in another 3 months we'll be done! I, however, point out that in 3 months, we'll be unemployed (at least most of us will be for at least a few months).

13 February 2009


Sophia at RevGalBlogPalssays: 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) Creslin -- my love kitty. He would cuddle and purr and climb on your head to do it, especially if you had a towel on your head out of the shower. Problem was he was a 13lb lanky cat. That's a lot of cat to wear as a turban. We lost him at only 6 to congestive heart failure. (named for a character in an LE Modesitt novel)

2) Niniane -- So frightened when I first got her from a "free to good home" ad. Solid grey with a small white clerical tab. I named her after the "not quite" priestess in Mists of Avalon (which I had just read). In the 16 or so years I had her she became really lovey -- on her terms, of course. She was nearly blind and deaf when we had to let her go.

3) Pavarotti -- Mom's cat. You can guess what he did the entire first night they had him home. This was a BIG cat (orange tabby). We called him mountain lion. One day he went out the cat door and came back in and Mom heard a strange noise in the family room. She went in there and Pav had brought in, through the kitty door, .... the neighbor's teacup poodle. I guess Pav thought that thing was too small to be out alone. Mom had to take the little doggie (perfectly safe, Pav had grabbed it by the scruff) back to the neighbor.

4) Mister -- Big white kitty: 1/4 persian; 1/4 manx; and his father was from a nice neighborhood. He had the persian fur and tail, the manx hind legs; He was 36 inches from tip of nose to tip of tail (I measured). He could put his nose on the counter while you were fixing his dinner. I once saw him treed by the neighbor's (dumb) german shepherd who then proceeded to bark treed at him for an hour or so. Until Mister just jumped out of the tree onto him. Dumb dog never chased my cat again. Mister was also known to bring home baby opossums and drop them on your pillow as presents.

5) Dawg -- A big yellow dog that just took up at our house, Mom wouldn't let us name her, because we weren't keeping her. We didn't have pets. (The Vet spelled it this way because they wouldn't just write "dog") Well she stayed, at least until she had her pups and weaned them, and then she left as she had come.

23 January 2009

Singing Owl at RevGalBlogPals says: 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?

I speak as one with a brand new alternator in a 10 year old car. (a special thank you to the unknown longhorn Spiritual Direction student who provided a jump in the seminary parking lot!)

1) well you could join me in ordination exams... Exegesis will take 5 days of my life while life adn classes go on around me.

2) Chili. Not monochromatic or boring. and if you put enough peppers in you get to enjoy it all day! OK, maybe that's not a benefit.

3) looking at the gardening catalogs. Thinking of the flowers that will bloom in spring.

4) reading church information forms (especially for churches in the south) and dreaming of getting permission to start sending out my resume.

5) facebook. nuff said.

09 January 2009

gluten free pancakes. Just not the same.

Sophia at RevGalBlogPals 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?
Well, this has all become so complicated in the past 4 years since I found out I have celiac. So, now I generally use a gluten free mix, but they all kinda stink. (Trader Joes frozen GF pancakes are an OK substitute) I used to use the krusteaz. it had the best flavor/texture for a mix that I had found. My mom, on the other hand is always from scratch.

2. Pure and simple, or with additions cooked in?
pecans (pe CAHNS not PEE cans) or blueberries when I make them (plain for the boring DH).

3. For breakfast or for dinner?
breakfast, although I remember going out with my grandfather for pancakes for dinner at a local diner out near the interstate.

4. Preferred syrup or other topping? How about the best side dish?
Well, either a little peanut butter and syrup (that's sir-rup not sea-rup) or some frozen strawberries that I nuke for a few minutes to go mushy and warm.
The best side dish is thick-sliced, applewood smoked bacon.

5. Favorite pancake restaurant?
IHOP, the ones that had nuts and such in them (back in the day before I knew better. Now, no can do.)

02 January 2009

New Year Friday Five

it's been, well, MONTHS since I wrote anything here, so, just to let you know I'm still alive, I'm doing today's Friday Five.

Sally at RevGalBlogPals says:

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 Year's 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
  1. Recovery from my hysterectomy. It was a longer, slower road than I expected, but I didn't realize how sick and just "not me" I had become until I started to get well after the surgery.
  2. Passing 2 of my ordination exams
  3. CPE. memorable in good and difficult ways.
  4. A year of great classes (mostly, there is one notable exception, but that blight is being addressed by leadership). I am really enjoying seminary. I was afraid to go back to school at my age, but it has been a blast!
  5. Seeing several friends ordained, and, as an elder, participating in the ordination.

Then list five things that you are looking forward to in 2009
  1. Passing the remaining 2 ordination exams. (Not, mind you, taking them. I do NOT look forward to taking them again, just getting them over with)
  2. Graduation. Although the thought of the Father & Step Mother and the Mother & Step Father in one place is a bit scary.
  3. Finding a first call. Hopefully in the part of the country I consider home, as opposed to the part of the country I currently live in.
  4. Getting ordained and beginning life as a Minister of Word and Sacrament.
  5. Moving (Aarrgh)