Another project underway!

I've been going a little nutty trying to find slips lately (for under skirts and dresses). These suckers can be hard to find, and the fact is that there are times when they make a huge difference.

SO, I toddled down to my local fabric store, bought myself a pattern, some satin and elastic, and here we go! Let's see how it works.

(Note: this may wind up being the 3,078th project to sit half-finished in a bin under the spare-room bed. I'll keep you updated.)

(Note #2: The pattern picture is from a site called "Fabric Indulgence and Art Supplies." Fun stuff!)


Friday Five: Auld Lang Syne Edition

This week, Singing Owl gives us a nice Friday Five-- easy directions, but hard thinking to do:

It is hard to believe, but 2007 is about to be history, and this is our last Friday Five of the year.With that in mind, share five memorable moments of 2007. These can be happy or sad, profound or silly, good or bad but things that you will remember. Bonus points for telling us of a "God sighting"-- a moment when the light came through the darkness, a word was spoken, a song sung, laughter rang out, a sermon spoke to you in a new way--whatever you choose, but a moment in 2007 when you sensed Emmanuel, God with us. Or more particularly, you.

1. I didn't start seminary. We'd planned to, but after a rude awakening, we came to the conclusion that there was just no way we could afford it this year.

2. I started a training program for Spiritual Directors. It's fantastic, and I'm so grateful to finally have peers to discern and grow with.

3. I had really, really been struggling with my rector for a while, and then in November my Spiritual Director said, "Where is God in that relationship?" (Palm of hand smacks forehead.) Since then, I've really sensed God's presense there, even when we disagree.

4. I got a new job! And I love it. I'm only planning on being here until fall of '09 (cross your fingers for seminary), but I'm so glad to be here right now.

5. I've started running again (and discovered I'm in fantastic company). At one point I'd thought that a favorite girlfriend and I were going to run this marathon, but we're going to do the half, instead, because neither of us had time right now to train for a marathon. The presense of God in this is that I'm hoping I learn through the process that it's OK not to everything that can possibily be done. It's OK to do half sometimes.

Tie those shoes and let's get going!

I tried to contain myself. I tried to keep quiet. But no, I have to link to this article in Runner's World. Because guys, it's really cool to find your presiding bishop in unusual places.


The Best Present Ever

Now, I have to tell you that gifts in general make me very uncomfortable. I love planning and buying them, but I am an incredibly awkward recipient. It's not that I'm not grateful, it's that receiving is a little overwhelming. (Go ahead, ask me how that works out in marriage. Exactly.)

Part of my extreme discomfort with the gift-giving/receiving part of Christmas is that it's very important to me that no one feels like I didn't really enjoy or appreciate their gift-- there can be no "favorite" gifts. (Any other children of divorce feel this way? Have to keep Mom and Dad both happy?) So, there's a bit of anxiety in Christmas for me.
Knowing all of that, you'll in a better position to understand how hard it is for me to I tell you that my aunt sent me the greatest, most luxurious, indulgent gift ever:

Isn't it gorgeous?

PS-- I'd also like to tell you that Mr. M gave me a beautiful oil lamp (Spring) for my meditiation/quiet corner, and it's amazing. Also, my mom gave me flannel jammies that are just what I need to keep me warm, and my darling father-in-law gave me a tiny convertible that was just incredibily fun and thoughtful.

PPS-- See what I mean?

Schism and the Feast Day of St. Stephen

Yesterday was the Feast Day of St. Stephen. Ordinarily I'm not as up on my feast days as I could be, but my daily podcast meditations are helping with that. Last night I listened to the story of the martyrdom of St. Stephen from the book of Acts.

And what occurred to me was that the people who were angered by Stephen and who stoned him came out of the same faith community that he did. I'm not sure where to go with this yet, but it really does strike me as significant, and I'm thinking that there's an awful lot of early church history that could inform us as we, particularly as Episcopalians/Anglicans, try to move forward.


Advent Friday Five: Rejoice!

This week's Friday Five comes from Bishop Laura.

Can you believe that in two days we'll be halfway through Advent? Gaudete Sunday: pink candle on the advent wreath, rose vestments for those who have them, concerts and pageants in many congregations. Time to rejoice!
Rejoice in the nearness of Christ's coming, yes, but also in the many gifts of the pregnant waiting time when the world (in the northern hemisphere, at least) spins ever deeper into sweet, fertile darkness.
What makes you rejoice about:

1. Waiting?
The pregnant, Advent kind of waiting is so connected to expectation to me. It's not an "if" kind of waiting, it's a "when." The comfort and joy of waiting in Advent is that there are promises attached. This year, I'm very grateful for that.

2. Darkness?
I'm not sure how to rejoice in this one, I really struggle with winter. I love the beauty of midnight mass, and I'm even enjoying my candlelit quiet times, but I really long for the light. (Maybe that could be a useful focus during quiet times, now that I think about it.)

3. Winter?
Guys, I feel cooped up and cramped and not at all myself this time of year. I'm so glad Bp. Laura asked how we rejoice in this, though. Maybe it's something to think about this week.

4. Advent?
Despite all my sniveling about the season, Advent is my favorite part of the liturgical year. I love the waiting. I love the readings from Isaiah (my favorite book, at the moment). I love Lessons and Carols. It's just a gorgeous season to me.

5. Jesus' coming?
Well, thank heavens. I can't tell you how relieved I am by the incarnation lately. I can't do a darn thing on my own-- I'm ridiculously grateful that Jesus loves us, and shows us how to be. (If I could only figure out what the heck he means...)


My new running buddy: the iPod Shuffle

Tee hee! As a birthday present, Mr. M got me the teeny tiny green iPod shuffle. It's just exactly the same color as my first car (may she rest in pieces), so I'm calling the shuffle "Little Sally" in honor of all the fun places we went together. I'm looking forward to totally different journeys with this machine.

I've already found, via the brilliant RevGals, the pray-as-you-go podcasts, which are really fantastic. I'm madly downloading a bunch of public radio podcasts-- Speaking of Faith; Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me; Car Talk; Splendid Table.

BUT I'm eager to hear other suggestions. Friends, these podcasts are going to get me through a lot of runs. What do you love to listen to?


Friday Five: Preparation

This week we're holding Sally and her community in prayer as we play the Friday Five she's provided:

This has been a difficult week for me, the death of a little six year old has overshadowed our advent preparations, and made many of us here in Downham Market look differently at Christmas. With that in mind I ask whether you are the kind of person that likes everything prepared well in advance, are you a last minute crammer, or a bit of a mixture.....Here then is this weeks Friday 5:

1. You have a busy week, pushing out all time for preparing worship/ Sunday School lessons/ being ready for an important meeting ( or whatever equivalent your profession demands)- how do you cope?
Honestly, right now I don't. I desparately want a day to myself, just to play hooky, but it's not going to happen. I'm in head-down, shoulder-forward, pushing-through mode.

2. You have unexpected visitors, and need to provide them with a meal- what do you do?
Well, Mr. M cooks, so fortunately that's one thing off my plate (tee hee).

Three discussion topics:
3. Thinking along the lines of this weeks advent theme; repentance is an important but often neglected aspect of advent preparations...
Can't handle this one right now.

4. Some of the best experiences in life occur when you simply go with the flow.....
Not sure I can handle this one right now, either. (Why am I even playing?!)

5. Details are everything, attention to the small things enables a plan to roll forward smoothly...
Yep, that's pretty much my M.O.

Bonus if you dare- how well prepared are you for Christmas this year?
It's just Mr. M and I, and Christmas is really a church thing more than a social thing for me, so I'm OK on this one.


Treadmills, Lunchtime Workouts, and the Courage Needed for Good Self-Care

I went to the gym at lunch today. I've only just last week joined the gym-- I finally owned up to the fact that I cannot breathe well when I run outside in the winter, and I'm not wild about running in the dark. So I squished 30 minutes of hills on the treadmill into the middle of my workday, and in doing so realized how much I've missed my independance.

I don't, for the record, believe independance must be a natural casualty of marriage. Usually, Mr. M and I work out together. In a lot of ways that's very helpful (I'm not long on discipline). On the down side, I have a hard time not being frustrated because he's faster than I am, and not being distracted by his truly bizarre gait.

When I was single, I'd go for long quiet runs, and my footfalls would muffle the chaos and the noise in my life for an hour or so. I don't have the coordination to breathe hard and worry at the same time, and breathing seems like a priority to me, so running was pretty centering. I used to run on a beautiful trail near my apartment, miles of converted rail tracks. Trees, streams, waterfalls, cornfields, this was a gorgeous path. Until I started seeing police composite drawings posted at the entrance. (Reminder: I live in a small town with a very low crime rate. This can happen anywhere. Be safe.) And I stopped running alone.

In lots of little ways like that, I've lost the confidence I had when I was younger that I can take care of myself. Some of it was foolishness I'm sure, but some of it was just a peaceful trust that I was OK. I really miss that. Even though it was just 30 minutes on the treadmill, I felt like I got a little piece of it back today.


General Crankiness

I've noticed over the last couple of days that I'm feeling pretty cranky. I'm not watching my tongue as much as I should with people who usually irritate me, and I'm short-tempered even with the easy people.

The silver lining here is that when I realized that, I though, "Hmmm... when's the last time I took time away for myself?" I realized that I desperately want a day off alone, just my own private hooky-playing. Yesterday was a 12-hour day, between a very early meeting, work, the gym, and leading evening prayer. Work has been busybusybusy, and home is pretty busy right now, too. I sat and tried to pray before evening prayer last night, and felt very out-of-practice. Late last night, annoyed with what appears to be a loved one's complete lack of aspirations, instead of dwelling on him, I resolved to take a closer look at how I can grow more into my own motivations.

It does feel good to recognize that when everyone is pissing me off, it very well may be about me.


Ember Days are here again...

OK, not quite yet, but this is just a quick reminder that they're coming up soon! Dec. 19, 21, and 22 are our next set. Ready, set.....write to your bishop!

CLARIFICATION: More Cows is right, Ember Days are a Catholic/Anglican thing. From the ECUSA's glossary:

Three days which occur four times a year: the Wednesday,
Friday, and Saturday after St. Lucy's Day (Dec. 13), Ash Wednesday, the Day of
Pentecost, and Holy Cross Day (Sept. 14). The name comes from the Latin title
Quattuor tempora, meaning "four times." In ancient Italy the times (originally
three) were associated with sowing, harvest, and vintage, for which one prayed,
fasted, and gave alms. Later the four times became occasions for ordination, for
which the Christian community prayed and the candidates prepared themselves by
prayer and retreat. The BCP appoints proper collects and readings for this
observance under the title "For the Ministry (Ember Days), including propers
"For those to be ordained," "For the choice of fit persons for the ministry,"
and "For all Christians in their vocation" (BCP, pp. 256-257,

What the glossary doesn't mention is that postulants and candidates must write to their bishops during Ember Weeks-- sort of a "State of the Postulant" letter.


Grumpy Holiday Friday Five

Here we go, ladies! It's this week's Friday Five!

Parishioners pushing for carols before you digested your turkey?
Organist refusing to play Advent hymns because he/she already has them planned for Lessons & Carols?
Find yourself reading Luke and thinking of a variety of ways to tell Linus where to stick it? (Lights please.)
Then this quick and easy Friday Five is for you! And for those of you with a more positive attitude, have no fear. I am sure more sacred and reverent Friday Fives will follow.
Please tell us your least favorite/most annoying seasonal....
1) dessert/cookie/family food
I'm not wild about pumpkin pie. (Seriously. Mushy food, I can't handle it.)
2) beverage (seasonal beer, eggnog w/ way too much egg and not enough nog, etc...)
I LOVE eggnog lattes, but there's a coffee shop near me that makes them with eggnog-flavored syrup instead of actually eggnog. Very disappointing.
3) tradition (church, family, other)
My pet peeve here might by my family's LACK of tradition. My mom has never been particularly interested in the holidays, and we were in a new place almost every year. (Mr. M and I seem to be doing our part to create new ones, though.)
4) decoration
Inflatible lawn ornaments. Oh my goodness. They're the only reason I've ever wanted a crossbow.
5) gift (received or given)
An aunt (bless her heart) once gave me an ankle-length sweatshirt nightgown with a furry bear appliqued to the front of it. Not as a child-- this was about 4 years ago.
BONUS: SONG/CD that makes you want to tell the elves where to stick it.
Well, actually, I'm going to admit that I love an album that I suspect everyone else will name here: Elvis's Blue Christmas. AND I'M NOT ASHAMED OF IT!


Home Again

I'm pleased to tell you that we've returned from our Thanksgiving trip, and many parts of it were better than expected. (OK, I admit it, we got back Saturday. And it was a bit stressful, so I've been lying low and gathering my wits.)

One of the best parts of the holiday weekend was a God-gift when we returned home: my car was covered in lovely yellow leaves, and these two seemed to have fallen into a sweet bouquet for me:



Last month, when I went to see my Spiritual Director, I finally stopped beating around the bush and told her that someone is driving me nuts.

And she asked me, "Where do you see God in that relationship?"

Of course she asked me that. It's what she does. Bless her, it's the obvious questions that knock our socks off, and it's through learning to make those questions a fixture of our lives that we finally become wise.

I had no answer.

I went home, antsy and figgity, annoyed and worn out, and looked for some ideas.

And then I broke out my (Roman Catholic) grandmother's rosary. I've been a fan of the Anglican Rosary for a long time, and this RC rosary of my grandmother's is special to me, too. I found myself praying for groups of people in the weeks (e.g., family in the first set of ten, coworkers in the second, parishioners on the third, revgals in the last), praying the Lord's Prayer at the cruciforms. It felt so good to spend that time holding people between myself and God, but I was particularly struck by the Lord's Prayer in the middle-- following these groups of prayers by addressing God as OUR FATHER, masculine language aside, was striking and healing. I began praying for individuals in those week beads as "_________, your beloved child, my brother/sister." At the end, I felt more open to God's love, and more open to sharing the same.

The Spiritual and the Physical

Get thee to Runner's World, and check out Kristin Armstrong's blog, Mile Markers. It's not often explictly spiritual, but it is.



Happy thanksgiving, everyone! Glad to have you around. Be safe, and say something nice to someone who drives you crazy.



I am a complete spaz. Last year, Mr. M and I started a tradition of doing an early-December open house sort of thing, and I'm really looking forward to it... and I'm also scared. It's just a day of cookie-baking and takeout, but I'm inviting all different people, and they may not mesh well, and there's no telling who will come... oy!

Time to turn it over. (Also time to not worry about our shabby apartment...)


Friday Five: Think on these things.

Songbird gives us this timely Friday Five:

Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. (Philippians 4:8, NRSV)

Friends, it's nearly Thanksgiving in the U.S. and it's the time of year when we are pressed to name things for which we are thankful. I want to offer a twist on the usual lists and use Paul's letter to the church at Philippi as a model. Name five things that are true, honorable, just, pure, pleasing, commendable, excellent or worthy of praise. These could be people, organizations, acts, ideas, works of art, pieces of music--whatever comes to mind for you.

I'm having such a hard time with this list. Makes me think that I must really need it.

1. I had an awful dream last night, I woke Mr. M up and he hugged me until I fell back to sleep. There's faithfulness for ya.

2. There's a great older couple at church, he was diagnosed with prostate cancer this summer. They seem to be supporting each other really well through this, and watching them has restored some of my faith.

3. Our youngest cat (the spare) has taken to snuggling like crazy when I sit in my meditation corner. I can't bring myself to kick her out, and there she is, purring louder than an diesel engine, rubbing her little face all over me. It's a great visual for how God and I could be together.

4. Respectful coworkers. For the first time in years. I can't tell you how incredible this is.

5. My health. I've become really aware lately of how precarious that is, and how many other people aren't experiencing that particular blessing right now.


And a question for the peanut gallery:

I may have become a puritanical old fussbudget. I'm not ruling that option out.

But I opened our monthly church newsletter this weekend, and there was a full-page spread of 10 horror movie reviews "in honor of" Halloween. Now, the movie reviews are a regular feature, and I've thought that many of them were inappropriate before, but this seemed beyond inappropriate and into offensive. Should the parish really be endorsing "The Exorcist," "Halloween," and "Poltergeist?" Or is it just the married-to-a-Quaker part of me that thinks we shouldn't be promoting violence as entertainment?

I should clarify: If you think horror movies are fun, that's your entertainment choice. I don't care that much. My question is more about the purpose and function of a church newsletter, and the commentary we make just by putting the Episcopal Shield over a statement.

Honestly, how would you feel about this? Would you talk to the author? Or the rector? Both? (The author is, btw, a vestry member.)

Not another one...

I am thisclose to shutting myself in the bathroom and crying until I can leave at 5. This is one crappy workweek.


The Habit-Forming Tendancy of Sticking My Foot in My Mouth

I'm starting to notice that, once I've begun to open my mouth, it takes waaaaay more effort to close it up again than it would have taken to just keep quiet in the first place.

This has perhaps not been a shining day at the office.

10 Things Meme

A while ago, Ladyburg was nice enough to tag me for the 10 Things meme. I sat on my bony little rump and didn't do it for a while, though I was very happy to be tagged. Well, here it is, 10 quirky things about me.

1. I really hate mushy food. Tapioca, stewed tomatoes, wet crackers in soup. Ugh.
2. Because of No. 1, when my darling husband packs my lunches, he packs everything separately. For instance, if I'm having leftover enchiladas, he'll pack the enchilada in one container, and then the sauce in another, and the cheese in a little ziplock bag. And the sour cream in yet another container.
3. I don't really have a sweet tooth. A little ice cream, and little caramel maybe, but I could totally live without it. I would not care if I never had chocolate again. BUT if it were possible to live on good french fries and malt vinegar, I would.
4. I was a cheerleader in high school and college. I was not one of the typical ones. In college, I was one of two (in a squad of about 10) who actually just really liked the game and were happy to bop around on fall afternoons. She and I used to do silly things to make the pep band laughed. (Let me explain what sort of cheerleader I was this way: I dated a lot of the band, and none of the football team.)
5. I'm sort of (a lot) a research nerd. I'm always trundling to or from the library (or browsing the web), reading up on whatever's on my mind. These things have included, but are not limited to: Rosaries, Borderline Personality Disorder, Hagiography, Diverticulitis, Pregnancy, and Winston Churchill. I loved research in college.
6. I really love water: rain, lakes, oceans, puddles, fountains, I'm not picky. There's just something about being near water that makes my soul feel more whole.
7. I love funny trashy novels-- particularly ones by Julia Quinn and Jennifer Crusie.
8. I love bright sparkly makeup and nail polish. (Yes, I read Beauty Tips for Ministers, and yes, I am mindful of professional images. But in my off time... and on my toes...)
9. My two favorite holidays are New Year's Eve and Election Day. Maybe I like fresh starts.
10. Advent is absolutely, hands down, my favorite liturgical season. The idea of setting aside time for anticipation, for watching and waiting, for living in the faith that the miraculous is right around the corner-- just gorgeous.

And now, I tag Grace-Thing, Juniper68, ordinary girl, mitch ross, and gannet girl.


Something I'm learning from forcing myself to run, or otherwise train, when I really don't feel like it, is that the good stuff in exercising is mostly a surprise.

Consider the knowns:
  • It's cold outside, and being cold when you could still be in bed stinks.
  • It's raining outside, and being wet when you could still be in bed stinks.
  • You, quite literally, stink at the end of it.
  • Your legs will hurt.
  • It's hard to breathe.
  • You look funny.
  • You probably have other things that you need to do.

Yes, there are other knowns, too, like better health and (eventually) more energy, but those aren't immediate-gratification kinds of things.

But then consider the unknowns that have popped up:

  • Frolicking squirrels (you guys know how I love the squirrels).
  • You meet an amazing number of neighborhood dogs who are out for their daily exercise, too.
  • Birds.
  • Quiet.
  • Neighbors who are friendlier to you because you're so ridiculous looking.
  • An elderly woman who, when you say hello, just giggles at you.
  • Blue jays.

These aren't things you can expect, they're little surprise gifts along the way. I hope that running is teaching me to watch for these gifts in other areas of my life that seem onerous, too. There are situations where you simply can't anticipate the good stuff. But you can watch for surprises.


Friday Five: Unbusyness Edition

Sally gave us this week's great Friday Five:

I am writing in my official capacity of grump!!! No seriously, with the shops and stores around us filling with Christmas gifts and decorations, the holiday season moving up on us quickly for many the time from Thanksgiving onwards will be spent in a headlong rush towards Christmas with hardly a time to breathe.... I am looking at the possibility of finding little gaps in the day or the week to spend in extravagant unbusyness ( a wonderful phrase coined by a fellow revgal)...So given those little gaps, name 5 things you would do to;

1.to care for your body
Well, it's going to take more than just little gaps, but I'm going to train to run a Marathon in May.

2. to care for your spirit
I'm going to make a point to sneak more of the Transcendentalists into my reading. Definitely Whitman, but a healthy dose of Emerson and Bronson Alcott, too.

3. to care for your mind
Work is actually doing that right now. Hurrah for a job that lets me use my brain.

4. to bring a sparkle to your eye
This one I'm not as sure about. Oh- wait, I know-- we have our second annual Cookie Day scheduled for the second Sunday in December. Just thinking about it brings a sparkle!

5. to place a spring in your step
I think for this one, I'm going to pay more attention to Mr. M. I'm pretty sure that will put a spring in my step.

Enjoy the time to indulge and dream.... and then for a bonus which one on the list are you determined to put into action?
I feel awfully fortunate-- I think all of these are going to happen. (I must not have played correctly...)


Early Morning Run

I usually run after work, because

1) I'm not very coordinated first thing
2) I really hate to leave all of the soft

but this evening I'm meeting with my spiritual director, so my run was going to have to be before work or not at all.

It was gorgeous. I'd forgotten how wonderful it is to do something for yourself before you do all of the "have to's." I didn't go very far, about two miles, but it was beautiful and peaceful. I saw blue jays sitting in brilliant orange trees, and the early sun warming the houses. I've been listening to Alison Krauss's A Hundred Miles Or More, and there's a line in Country Boy that talks about how the boy doesn't have much money, but has silver in the stars, and gold in the morning sun.

Today, I shared the gold in the morning sun, too.

I took a little quiet time for meditation last night (I was feeling buzzy, a clear sign that I need to center). I acknowledged to God that I feel a little ridiculous about this marathon idea. Is it possible that I take things too far? I don't just want to run, I want to finish a marathon. I don't just want to be an Episcopalian, I want to be a priest. I don't just want to do well on the GREs, I want to know WHERE MY OTHER 40 POINTS ARE!


So God and I chatted about that. (A therapist and I will likely chat about it, too.) For the time being, if I can infuse these things with God and with love, I think they'll be OK. If I can't, it's time to reevaluate.



I am a serious space cadet this morning, thoughts wandering all over the place. My latest: wouldn't it be great to do a marathon? Now, I run a few times a week, but we're talking a couple miles a few times a week.

So, first I had A Plan. (I always have A Plan.) Plan was, do a 1/2 marathon in the spring, then do a full one after we have our first kid. (No, nobody's PG.)

But then I was using Runner's World's Race Finder. And usually, 1/2 marathons accompany full marathons.

Here's the problem-- who wants to do half of something when there are other people out there doing a whole something?

AND THEN I learned that there's a Flying Pig marathon. Well, tell me, is there anything that seems more appropriate?

Oy. It's in May. This is probably not a good idea.

But I love this idea.

OH MY GOODNESS: Now I've had a flash of genius-- are there any interested RevGals who might want to form a little team?!

Monday Morning Cubicle Dance Party

So far, we've got the Top Gun Soundtrack, some Tina Turner covers (I love just about every version ever done of "I Ain't Missing You"), some Sugerland, a little Love Shack. Loving it. And now, I'm opening up the phones for requests...


RevGal Friday Five: Interviewing

From Bishop Laura:
Songbird just had an interview for a "vague and interesting" possibility, and More Cows than People is doing campus visits for doctoral programs. There always seem to be a few RevGals applying for new positions, and I just got my first call for this year's preliminary interviews for college teaching jobs at the American Academy of Religion meeting in San Diego coming up in a few weeks. It's for my dream job among this year's offerings, and I am flipflopping between excitement and nervousness. So please keep your fingers crossed and say a little prayer for everyone facing such conversations, and share your thoughts on the wonderful world of interviews:

1. What was the most memorable interview you ever had?
I think probably my interview for Postulancy, and unfortunately, that was memorable for terrible reasons. I was granted postulancy, but I cried most of the way home. (A spiritual director I no longer work with was on my COM, as well as my rector's wife. Unbelievably uncomfortable, and I didn't feel at all free to be open.)

2. Have you ever been the interviewer rather than the interviewee? If so, are you a tiger, a creampuff, or somewhere in between?
I worked for a staffing company as an employment consultant for a couple of years, so I've done a LOT of interviewing. I'm neither a creampuff nor a tiger. I am very forthright, but I don't think interviewing should involve scare tactics.

3. Do phone interviews make you more or less nervous than in-person ones?
I hate phone interviews. I've done them, and they've been fine, but I much prefer face-to-face to phones. (Just ask the friends I'm doing a crappy job of keeping in touch with!)

4. What was the best advice you ever got to prepare for an interview? How about the worst?
The worst was "trust the process" (hard to do when you know you don't trust some of the people running the process). I'm not sure what the best was, but overall I interview very well.

5. Do you have any pre-interview rituals that give you confidence?
Umm... damn. Well, here it is: I started wearing lucky knickers in college. Red ones, on game days. Now, on "game days," (interviews, stressful stuff, whatever) I still wear red knickers. Oh-- and if I need to feel like I can kick some butt, I listen to "Brothers in Arms," because of that incredible episode of West Wing, "Two Cathedrals."


Proof of Soulmatehood?

Email from Mr. M, Subject: Today's meeting:

Matt makes crude remarks
Everybody laughs with him
But not me, I sigh

Now he's word-doodling, too.


The Book.

No, not that book, silly. Facebook.

Am I the last person to find this sucker? I must be, because I'm shocked by the number of people I know on it. Which is exciting, but...

It's bringing out my inner wallflower. (What's that? You didn't realize I had a shy side? You thought I was always opinionated and irritating? Well, maybe.)

Lovely people out there, some of them people I've remembered fondly for lo, these many years. But ask them to be my "friend" again? Hmm. Not sure. Scary.

Also-- I'm confused by the medium. Is seems like (am I wrong?) there are lots of toys associated with it, but not much real contact. More of a timekiller than a real reconnect?

So, mystified by technology once again (Want to explain it to me, Mr. M?), I'm going to go for a walk and shuffle these gorgeous leaves around.

Working on Crusader Rabbit Again

I went to dinner with a wonderful woman on Monday night. She started out years ago as a buddy (someone good to do fun things with), but has really become a friend (someone that it's good to share important things with) over time.

We were talking about how alienating and exclusive language can be. In particular, we both like the idea of being "for" rather than "against." An example: demonstrations in favor of peace, rather than in opposition to war. I've said (over and over and over) that adults are just like children and animals in that we need an alternative, rather than just a "no." If I can't envision another way of doing something, why on earth would I stop what I'm doing?

So here's a new goal, let's see how it goes. Rather than speaking up against things, let's see what happens when I create the habit of speaking out for something better. I'm wild about this idea. I think it could be lifechanging.


Do we all ponder this?

I'm seriously considering un-anonymousing. I'd go back and do a bit of revision, of course, but I'm starting to feel like using my name would be freeing.

Acknowledgement: If you know me IRL, you may well know about this. So it's not like we're talking total anonymity, anyway. But I still have a bit of a buffer.

A little fun

A quick quiz to select an '08 candidate.


Friday Five: Pumpkins and Apples

Holy Mackerel! Singing Owl gave us Night Owl Friday Five, this week! Fall's settling in, so we've got some Halloween questions ahead of us.

1. How did you celebrate this time of year when you were a child?
We really didn't celebrate. Sometimes I would get dressed up and go trick-or-treating, other times I'd go to a church festival in lieu of trick-or-treating, but we moved so much that there wasn't much consistancy in how we celebrated any holidays.

2. Do you and/or your family “celebrate” Halloween? Why or why not? And if you do, has it changed from what you used to do?
Nope, we don't. That might change if we have kids, I suppose.

2. Candy apples: Do you prefer red cinnamon or caramel covered? Or something else?
Definitely caramel covered! Although I admit that I'd rather just have apple slices to dip into caramel-- eating candy apple might require more coordination than I have.

3. Pumpkins: Do you make Jack O’ Lanterns? Any ideas of what else to do with them?
Nope. Mr. M and I have talked about it, but this just isn't a holiday I get excited about. (On the other hand, I quite like All Saint's Day...)

4. Do you decorate your home for fall or Halloween? If so, what do you do? Bonus points for pictures.
We like seasonal wreaths on the door. Nothing cutesy, just pretty leaves or something.

5. Do you like pretending to be something different? Does a costume bring our an alternate personality?
Maybe, but I'm not sure I reserve that for Halloween! If I'm nervous about something, I'm more likely to dress nicely and make sure my hair and makeup are done. There are tiny tees and cowboy boots for when Sarah and I go to the rodeo (watch out, Mr. M, it could happen again!). There are cocktail dresses for when I want to feel fancy, and hippie dresses for when I want to feel free. There are all kinds of everyday costumes that are more subtle, but just as fun, ways of being a witch or a princess.

Bonus: Share your favorite recipe for an autumn food, particularly apple or pumpkin ones.
Dang. I made apple pie last weekend. I'd love to share the recipe, but it's at home! Well, instead I'll share the recipe for Apple Pie Smoothie. (Mr. M has been making smoothies for my breakfasts, and they've gotten... creative.)

1 carton Dannon French Vanilla Yogurt
1/2 c Almond milk
6 crushed almonds
1/2 c. apples sauted with butter, sugar, and cinnamon (chilled)

(This may not be the world's healthiest smoothie...)



Last weekend my mom visited. Because she hadn't been there before, I took her to the tiny wonderful church where I interned. The mediation at the Saturday evening service was on healing. Not necessarily the kind where one is cured or everything is fixed, but the kind where healing is still present, even in the absense of a cure.

Timely message. I'm seeing the need for this all over the place this week. Mary Beth is calling for it, Iris is calling for it, and I discovered this morning that a very close friend's father is in the final stages of pancreatic cancer. A leader in my Spiritual Direction group was recently in an awful car accident, and is experiencing a lot of pain. My mother is certainly in need of healing. I think my church is. I think The Church is, as Tandaina has been sharing lately. I have to stop listing, because it goes on and on.

O merciful Father, who hast taught us in thy holy Word that
thou dost not willingly afflict or grieve the children of men:
Look with pity upon the sorrows of thy servant for whom
our prayers are offered. Remember
her, O Lord, in mercy,
her soul with patience, comfort her with a sense
of thy goodness, lift up thy countenance upon
her, and give
peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
-BCP, p.831



I spent (some portion of) 8 years of my life in San Diego County (Oceanside, specifically). We moved all the time growing up, but somehow kept returning to Camp Pendleton. Today, reading about the fires, I'm cringing and praying. Wildfires are a pretty common catastrophe in that area, but this week's are particularly awful.

I'm not sure what it is about a disaster that makes you long for a place. Perhaps a part of us is always present in the places that formed us, and we just feel it more sharply in these times.


Haikus from today's staff meeting (anything to stay focused).

Marikay's daughter
had a beautiful wedding.
Kilts flapping all night.
Interest rates changing,
Pension unpredictable.
We'll liquidate it.
Calendar changes
are underway for funding.
Please remind D--- W---.
Capacity, cost,
Staffing and quality too.
All child-care hurdles.
So many programs
mothers, babies and families.
What's just for dads?
Is the real issue
funding or education?
Money can't buy smart.
"Accumulate wealth"
The answer to poverty.
Thanks for all your help.
Branding by age group.
"We" resent stereotypes.
Stop pigeonholing.

Hey, guys, look over here!!!

This morning in The Washington Post's "On Balance" section, I found this post about being a priest/mom.

Thought you might enjoy that someone outside our little enclave was publishing this stuff!


Gratitude List

Inspired by Mindy and Zorra, and also by my own high level of irritation at work this week, I've come to the conclusion that a gratitude list is in order. Here we go, the things that I'm able to remember to be thankful for today, in no particular order:
  1. A boss who respects me.
  2. A few coworkers who I really like.
  3. The kits.
  4. A generous husband (who volunteered to squire my mom around yesterday and today, since I don't have the vacation time to take while she's visiting).
  5. That my mom's luggage finally arrived, even if it was after midnight.
  6. A gorgeous, stormy fall day. Absolutely nothing feels as restorative as a good storm.
  7. Today's Friday.
  8. My cozy bright-blue sweater.
  9. The sense that, even though it's making me a bit crazy at the moment, I have a "permanent" job.

It's a slow start, but it's a start. Maybe I'll try to start substituting gratitude lists for gripes. We'll see how that goes...

Something fabulous.

I've just found this blog, Brazen Careerist about life, women, age, and careers, and it's fanastic. Penelope Trunk is funny, honestly, and (this feels so good) really respectful of young people in the workplace. For anyone who's felt talked down to, ignored, patronized, or hazed because of their age, this respect is a precious thing. Go check her out. She's got great advice, and is open about the times she's learned things the hard way.


Spousal Report

I can't count anymore the number of people who have observed that life is a quite bit easier as a male clergy spouse than a female clergy spouse. The evidence is purely anecdotal, but so far it seems pretty true. Both Mitch and PH2 give a pretty clear perspective of their experiences. I'm really enjoying what they have to say. I'm enjoying my own experiences with a postulancy spouse, too. Mr. M has been patient and thoughtful, supportive and just protective enough to make me feel like he's got my best interests at heart (but not so protective that I think he might lock anyone in the undercroft closet).

I'm particularly grateful to be reading these husband blogs, because as Mr. M and I go round and round (and round and round) about having kids, I'm realizing how few models of really involved husbands and fathers I know. And folks, I just don't have it in me to be a single parent while I'm married. (I think we've all seen this phenomenon?) I know Mr. M. He is the most nurturing, gentle person I know. He is attentive and kind. He will be an involved dad, there's no question about it. But for me, because I've seen so few examples of this, I'm terrified that children would drain every part of myself, and their father would watch from the sidelines.

Thank you, gentlemen, for your openness. Thank you for providing a sane model of family (even on days when it doesn't work as smoothly as everyone would hope).


There is truth here.

What Kind of Reader Are You?
Your Result: Obsessive-Compulsive Bookworm

You're probably in the final stages of a Ph.D. or otherwise finding a way to make your living out of reading. You are one of the literati. Other people's grammatical mistakes make you insane.

Dedicated Reader
Book Snob
Literate Good Citizen
Fad Reader
What Kind of Reader Are You?
Create Your Own Quiz


Boy, have I made a mess.

My mom lives a little over 800 miles a way from Mr. M and I. When she retired from the military, she kept moving. Regularly. More than she had on active duty. In five years, she lived in TN (twice), CA (at least twice), OK, and China (for a summer). During that time, I graduated college and parked my weary heiney in a brand-new (to me, it's actually an ooooold town) hometown. I've been here over 5 years now-- longer than I've lived in one building my whole life. By a lot-- the closest to an exception would be college.

In most families, the kids grow up and move away. In our family, the mom moves away. Again and again and again. As I'm grown and pretty well self-sufficient, this is not a huge problem. It would be nice to have her over for Sunday dinner, but we were separated a lot even when I was little. This is "normal" for us. Unfortunately, she is sometimes very unhappy about it. Sometimes it is "my fault" because when she says she wants to move closer, I point out that in a couple of years, Mr. M and I are hoping to head off to seminary. (As a matter of fact, this time last year we thought we'd be there now.) But I've been here over 5 years. I've been here through at least 6 different moves of hers, and I'm fairly certain it's more than that. Each time, she chose a new place to live. I'm not responsible for the choices that she made.

That's not the mess I made.

The mess I made is that I said I wanted to see her whole family for Thanksgiving. Mr. M still hasn't met my grandparents, or two of my mother's siblings. We're all scattered across 5 states. (We're finally all basically on the same side of the country, though!) So, Mom has rallied the troops, and there are loose plans (that have changed regularly to this point) to get togther.

The mess I made is that I did not think the logistics out as I should have. I don't have the time to take off, so Wednesday we will start driving at 5PM when I get off work. Wednesday and Thursday we will drive 800 miles. We'll spend Friday with the family, and then drive 800 miles home on Saturday and Sunday. That part stinks.

The financial logistics don't work out much better. We're not going to drive 13 hours straight through. That's crazy. So, we'll be staying in a motel along the way. And we're not staying with mom when we get there, because my sweet introverted husband may want to get away from the dozen strangers congregated in my mother's tiny house. So, 4 nights hotel + petsitter + food while travelling + gas = a pretty sizeable chunk of money. And stress.

But it was my idea.

She's flying out for about 4 days this weekend, so we will see each other soon.

So what now?


Oct 7-10: Mental Health Awareness Week

In honor of Mental Health Awareness Week, I'm passing on some basic points about mental health and mental illness from the National Alliance on Mental Illness:
  • Mental illnesses are biologically based brain disorders. They cannot be overcome through "will power" and are not related to a person's "character" or intelligence.
  • The World Health Organization has reported that four of the 10 leading causes of disability in the US and other developed countries are mental disorders. By 2020, Major Depressive illness will be the leading cause of disability in the world for women and children.
  • The best treatments for serious mental illnesses today are highly effective; between 70 and 90 percent of individuals have significant reduction of symptoms and improved quality of life with a combination of pharmacological and psychosocial treatments and supports.
  • Stigma erodes confidence that mental disorders are real, treatable health conditions. We have allowed stigma and a now unwarranted sense of hopelessness to erect attitudinal, structural and financial barriers to effective treatment and recovery. It is time to take these barriers down.

Photo Editing

Sometimes, I pull my head out of the sand just long enough to stop saying, "wouldn't it be nice if I could ________," and actually put some gray matter into figuring out how I can __________.

In this case, _____________ was photo editing. All kinds of fun fancy bloggers making fascinating photos. And me, wondering why in the heck I couldn't tweak mine. Well, enter Picnik. No, I'm not getting kickbacks, I'm just really pleased to find a web-based, free photo editor.

Behold the old photo:

And then the new:

Seriously, folks, which is more interesting? Now wouldn't it be nice if I could manipulate blogger into posting them a little differently... hmmm.

Update and Thanks

My grandmother finally got in touch with my mom late last night. Apparently, Mom had lost her phone over the weekend, but put off getting a new one because the old one was the only place she had pictures of her dog, and she didn't want to give up the search. When she finally did get a new phone, she couldn't call anyone, because she stored everyone's number in her old phone.

SO, she is OK. I really appreciate everyone's prayers, thank you. I was really scared, and starting to go into planning/what-would-I-do-if mode. She's going to give me her neighbor's phone number, though, and that'll help, too.

On one hand I feel like I went from zero to catastrophic in a short 3 days. On the other hand, there's history. Thanks so much for your prayers. I can't tell you how grateful I am.



Hey, there, friends. If you think to, would you please hold my mama in the light? She's struggled with some serious depression for a long time, and I haven't been able to get a hold of her for the last 3 days. She had to put her (young) dog to sleep on Friday, and I haven't talked to her since Saturday now. The dog was a huge help as a companion, and really eased some of her loneliness. I know that's not a long time, but the rest of the family can't get in contact with her, either, and I'm a bit worried. A couple of us have left "please just touch base and let us know you're OK" calls Sunday and yesterday, but haven't gotten a reply.

Thank you.


Image 1: Roots

I came home from last week's retreat exhausted and full of questions. Finally, a safe group of people with whom I can stretch and grow. On the other hand-- grow where? I've been dissatistfied and restless for quite a while. With the church, with my parish, with my poor husband, with where we live. (I know the obvious answer when nothing outside myself seems satisfying: look inside.)

So, exhausted and cranky, I huffed out of the apartment for a walk on Saturday. These crowded, tangled roots brought tears to my eyes-- I went back later with my camera. I've spent the last 3 years believing that a call to ministry meant that I was handing over my autonomy, turning over my right to make major decisions for myself and my family to the church. After all, ordained ministry is about "discipline and obedience"(not my words, I assure you) to the church (though not necessarily to our understanding of God's guidance). Now I'm feeling cramped. Have I planted myself in the wrong place? I'm a planner, but more than that, I'm a dreamer. I've surrendered my dreams, and waited for dreams to be imagined for me. I want the fullness and the freedom of my own dreams again.

Images and Imagination

I am wordy. Of course I am-- how many bloggers aren't? By and large, if we weren't at home with language, we wouldn't do this.

My sweet husband, on the other hand, is Not Wordy. This can be frustrating for both of us. We've worked out a system where sometimes, to more accurately express emotion, I ask him to do a little dance. You wouldn't believe how well this can work. (He seems embarrassed, but he loves it. It's darling.) He's a very visual person. So Mr. M has had me thinking about communication and images.

Lately, when I've met with my spiritual director, we've talked about some very clear, very useful metaphors. Her suggestion: meditate on those images.

While I'm thinking about images and spirituality, I'm also thinking about imagination-- calling images forth, being open to new images, new possibilities of images. I'm WILD about Walter Brueggemann's The Prophetic Imagination. (In fact, I bet longtime readers may be wondering how many times I can try to get you to read this book!) I believe that God uses our imaginations to spur us on to new realities, new pieces of our lives.

So, in pursuit of a new model of thinking, I'm going to try to blog with images for a while. Not just images, of course-- a woman can only grow so much overnight! But in the same way that poetry gives us a wide breadth of meaning with word-pictures, I'd like to open up to new possibilities of meaning in the images before me. New adventure coming soon.

Opening Retreat

Thursday and Friday of last week I went away to the opening retreat of my Spiritual Directors program.

I got to the retreat center about half an hour late on Thursday, and panicked a bit (during that time I thought about the fact that perfectionism is high on the list of things to discuss with a not-yet-found therapist). I locked my keys in the car that morning (thought I had them in my hand, turned out my muffin was in my hand!), and sweet Mr. M left work and drove half an hour home to let me in. (Yes, I will be making a third copy of the key and putting it in one of those magnetic thingies.) I naturally assumed that in the half hour before I got there, all the other participants would become best friends, and I would be a weekend wallflower. I'm happy to tell you I was delusional.

Our retreat was wisely balanced between small groups, large groups, partner time, and solitude. There were laypeople, clergy, social workers, counselors. I was the youngest, the oldest was probably in his mid-60s. The group of 27 people was certainly women-heavy, but there were 4 men participating.

4 staff members guided us through the retreat, leading large group mediations, facilitating small group meetings, and meeting with each of us one-on-one. We met the small groups that we'll be working in for the next two years, and I have to say I really lucked out. I'm in with 5 warm, funny, bright people. I lucked out with my year's prayer partner, too. She seems very down-to-earth, and very sweet. It's really going to be a pleasure to work with these people.

By the second day, I'd reached the limit of my ability to concentrate-- particularly in individual contemplation. Here's the truth: I love solitude. I love quiet retreats. BUT, if there's an interesting person just around the corner, solitude drives me clean out of my mind.

We're diving straight into the deep end, in terms of direction. By January we each need to be providing Spiritual Direction for two people. I think I'll work that out two ways-- to advertise with the parish where I interned, and to offer my services to the local college. I'm particularly interested in working with the college. In the long run, how great would it be to set up group discernment there? College ministry is so exciting to me.

I don't have much more to tell, yet. I'm still a little worn out, and I like to take a little while to process. For now, I'll just leave you with my favorite spot of the weekend. Isn't this lovely? There's a fire ring in the middle.


Quick Travelogue

Last weekend Mr. M and I took a little anniversary detour, and I thought you might like the pics. We spent the weekend in Granville, OH, and spent one fun night in Columbus helping a girlfriend of mine celebrate her 30th. (No pics of that, sorry!)

To start with, the beasties know what suitcases mean, and they don't like them at all:
Anthony, in fact, can be very stubborn about it:
We got to Granville Friday afternoon, and checked into the Buxton Inn. Our room was, as they always are there, Fabulous:
We went to our favorite little gallery store, and Mr. M came home with a new friend:
We saw Lynn Nottage's play "Intimate Apparel." A word to the wise: if they get married right before intermission, the second act is not going to be happy.

Saturday afternoon, we spent a couple of hours strolling through the BioReserve:

Overall, it was a wonderful, peaceful weekend. I'd forgotten how just Going Someplace Else can rejuvenate me-- and us.


Embracing the Journey

The day after tomorrow I start my opening retreat for Spiritual Direction training. I'm so excited that my tail's about to wag right off my rear.

I feel better about this decision than I have about any other discernment-type action that I've made in a long while. (No, I still haven't written my Ember letter.) My experience with the people involved in this organization (and with the assigned readings!) is that there's a strong belief both in disciplined personal practice, but also in freedom within that discipline. I feel like a parched plant in rain.


Just a half a mile from the railroad track...

Tell me if anyone else sees a resemblance between these two things:

I went over to the sargent, said, "Sargeant, you got a lot a damn gall toask me if I've rehabilitated myself, I mean, I mean, I mean that just, I'msittin' here on the bench, I mean I'm sittin here on the Group W bench'cause you want to know if I'm moral enough join the army, burn women,kids, houses and villages after bein' a litterbug." He looked at me andsaid, "Kid, we don't like your kind, and we're gonna send you fingerprintsoff to Washington." -Arlo Guthrie, Alice's Restaurant.


Gen. Peter Pace ignited controversy during a hearing Wednesday when he firmly reiterated his opinion that gay sex is depraved and should not be encouraged by the military. .. "We need to be very precise then, about what I said wearing my stars and being very conscious of it." he continued. "And that is, very simply, that we should respect those who want to serve the nation but not through the law of the land, condone activity that, in my upbringing, is counter to God's law." -Anne Flaherty, AP

I'm just sayin'.


New Meme: Stuffies!

OK, y'all. I noticed a little bit of a theme when we were doing the De-Cluttering Friday Five:

Many of us have friends who are Real.

I think we should post them! C'mon, start making introductions! I think I'm going to try to tag people, but if you want to play, post a link in my comments!

Friends, meet Bear. He used to be my mom's, but we traded animals when I left home. Bear's been with me ever since.


Congrats to Us!

Happy Anniversary to Mr. M and I! 3 years today. Mr. M sent me flowers at work (I LOVE getting flowers), and even better, they're a replica of my wedding bouquet.

We're going away this weekend, and it's been Too Long since we've taken a trip together. We both wagging our little bums off in anticipation.

One of my favorite wedding memories is our recession: all our guests (and our funny, feisty organist) sang us out to Ode to Joy.

Thanks, Mr. M. You're my favorite.


Squirrelly in the Afternoon

I can be a morning person (in the sense that I do manage to enjoy them once I finally become coherent), or a night person, but during the afternoon I'm completely useless. I get a ton done before lunch, squeak out a little right after lunch, but by this time (4pm) I can't do a blessed thing. My brain is shot.

And I get a little nutty. Today is no exception, and, as you can imagine, it is indeed worse on Fridays.

But, I'm very comfortable with this, because squirrels are, hands down, my favorite animals. Love 'em. Have you ever just sat down and watched the little guys? They're hysterical. This is one species that really has mastered frolicking. They chase each other in circles around trees, they leap from branch to branch. But, they're also disciplined-- consider the "squirrelling away" of resources they do every year. (We'll leave out my desire to hybernate for a moment.)

One of my favorite memories of my mom and I when I was a teenager is of watching squirrels. We were in a fast-food parking lot, and we watched the french-fry-stealing machinations and manipulations of different little furry friends. We laughed so hard we cried. Later, in a hotel during a college road trip, I showed a good friend my impression of the squirrel who went flat to when he was startled. It was a perfect way to lighten what had been a very tense day.

They're marvelous little creatures. So, if I'm a little squirrelly
this afternoon, I can live with that.
And I have a tee shirt to back me up.

Friday Five: Decluttering Edition

Revgal Sally offers us this Friday Five:

With Jo, Jon and Chris all moving to college and University accommodation there has been a big clear up going on in the Coleman household. We have been sorting and trying hard not just to junk stuff, but actually to get it to where it can be useful. On a brighter note we have used Freecycle ( check it out) to provide the twins with pots and pans etc that other folk were clearing out.Making the most of our resources is important, I have been challenged this week by the amount of stuff we accumulate, I'd love to live a simpler lifestyle, it would be good for me, and for the environment I think...With that in mind I bring you this Friday 5;

1. Are you a hoarder or a minimalist?
There is no question at all that I'm a minimalist. We moved all the time when I was growing up. Now, I look at something and think, "Would I want to pack that?"

2. Name one important object ( could be an heirloom) that you will never part with.
I honestly can't think of anything. Well, maybe Bear. Because he's Real at this point.

3. What is the oldest item in your closet? Does it still fit???
Right this minute, I'm wearing brown cowboy boots that I bought when I was 14. I still wear a lot of stuff from high school in general (I've always had fairly classic -boring- taste). But each year when I swap out summer and winter clothes, I get rid of things that I didn't wear at all that season.

4.Yard sales- love 'em or hate 'em ?
Hate 'em. I don't want your crap, and I don't want the hassle of selling you mine. Everything gets boxed up for the Salvation Army or womens' shelters.

5. Name a recycling habit you really want to get into.
We're already really good about recylcing. Maybe more paper, we do get a lot of junk mail.



I have a beautiful friend who believes that whether or not a relationship will work out often depends largely on timing.

I wonder if the same is true of one's relationship with the church.

5 months ago I met with my Commission on Ministry to request Postulancy. I was told at the time that they were recommending that it be granted. I didn't get a letter confirming Postulancy, however, until yesterday (has to be a form letter, flattest thing I've ever read). Said letter, of course, points out that I need to begin writing Ember Day letters.

We are right in the middle of an Ember Week. I got the darn letter on an Ember Day.

PS-- Because I sometimes forget that we don't all speak Anglican:
Per wikipedia:In the liturgical calendar of the Western Christian churches, Ember days are four separate sets of three days within the same week - specifically, the Wednesday, Friday and Saturday - roughly equidistant in the circuit of the year, that were formerly set aside for fasting and prayer. These days set apart for special prayer and fasting, were considered especially suitable for the ordination of clergy.
For our purposes, per www.ecusa.anglican.org:Every postulant or candidate for holy orders in the Episcopal Church is required by canon to report to the bishop four times a year, during the Ember Weeks. The report must be made in person or by letter, and must include reflection on the person's academic experience as well as personal and spiritual development.

PPS-- I still just cannot get over the extent to which the process has quenched any urge I might have to treat being granted postulancy as something worth celebrating. It honestly just breaks my heart.


Knotted Knickers

Sometimes, it really is the principle of the thing.

I got my invitation to my alma mater's Homecoming festivities last week. Addressed to "Mr. and Mrs. Husbandsfirstname M." Which I don't like to start with, but find particularly offensive given that he's not an alumus of this particular institution, and that I'm still sending them checks, both tuition and donations.

So I sent the following email, which seemed reasonable:
Good afternoon,

I very much enjoyed receiving my invitation to this year’s Homecoming events. However, I was puzzled by the address on it. My invitation had been sent to Mr. and Mrs. Husbandsfirstname M. My husband is not a Denison alumnus, and I’m baffled by why my invitation would have come in his name. In the future, I would prefer that my name be used.

Thank you very much,

Myfirstname (Mymaidenname) M, Denison Class of 2001

Today, I finally got the response:
The e-mail you sent to Alumni Affairs regarding your Homecoming brochure was forwarded to me. I just wanted to let you know that when Denison sends mailings meant to be for both you and your spouse to attend, they will include your husbands' name. There are times when only your name will appear: as Mrs. Yourfirstname M.

Let me know if you need anything further. Hope that all is going well for you."

No, actually, that does not resolve my problem. I am ashamed to say I got a little huffy:
It's good to hear from you, I hope you're doing well. I'm glad to have my husband included on my invitations, but I would like to be included as well. I would strongly prefer for the university I attended and still support use my name, and not "Mrs. Hisfirstname."

Thanks for your help.

Does anyone else get irritated by being Mrs. Husband?!?


Great Weekend

I had a fantastic weekend. It was the most relaxing 2 days I've spent in I don't know how long. The weather was gorgeous, the company was good, and the pace was slow. And the clouds-- the clouds were magnificent!



Please pop over and check on Kate's interview and ordinary girl's, too! They might not have answers up yet, but keep an eye out for what these ladies will share!

Because it seems interesting,

Behold Mr. M's Flame Boots:This was taken when we were dating, at Baltimore's Inner Harbor. The arm he has beside me has a business-length sleeve, as you can see in this pic:
Despite the flame boots and tattoo, he is the most gentle, easy-going man you'd ever want to meet. He's also shockingly rule-bound. All the wild decorations were a startling aberration, and I can't explain them. He is painfully well-behaved and unassuming.

Friday Five: Meetings, Meetings

I'm laughing at ReverendMother's Friday Five today, because I'm doing mine between two meetings!

Here we go, speedy edition:

1. What's your view of meetings? Choose one or more, or make up your own:a) When they're good, they're good. I love the feeling of people working well together on a common goal.b) I don't seek them out, but I recognize them as a necessary part of life.c) The only good meeting is a canceled meeting.
I'm going with option a on this one-- I love a meeting where the sharing of ideas really gets things done. Having said that, there are a lot of awful meetings to get through...

2. Do you like some amount of community building or conversation, or are you all business?
If you want to chat before or after the meeting (and I usually do), knock yourself out. Otherwise, I think it can be disrespectful of people's time to lolligag when there are things that need to be taken care of.

3. How do you feel about leading meetings? Share any particular strengths or weaknesses you have in this area.
I am very comfortable leading meetings. I think I'm pretty good at it-- I make it a point to encourage the people who want to be heard, to try to get everyone to at least understand what's being said (agreement is out of my hands), and I keep everyone on task very well. Having said that, I'm sure there might be people who feel that leaving chattiness out of the meeting time was a weakness.

4. Have you ever participated in a virtual meeting? (conference call, IM, chat, etc.) What do you think of this format?
I've been in on several conference calls, and my experience is that people tend to screw around. I don't particularly care for them, if there's an alternative.

5. Share a story of a memorable meeting you attended.
When I started facilitating our Christian Formation department meetings, I realized that my leadership skills were a lot stronger than I realized. It was a fantastic feeling. I learned that I was patient and a good listener, but also able to steer the meetings effectively. There's not one meeting that stands out, though I know we did good things that year. It was a good time to learn about myself.


Woo-hoo- Interview!

I'm wagging a little, I love this meme. RevDrKate was gracious enough to interview me. Thanks, Kate!!! (Go read about all the amazing stuff she's doing right now. I can't imagine how it can all happen at once, but we're talking some cool stuff.)

Here we go:
1. You say that your spiritual background is eclectic. How did you find your way to the Episcopal church? What are some of the “best things about being Episcopalian” for you?
When I first moved to this fairly rural area, I didn't know anyone at all. The first order of business for me was to find a church. I worshipped with a little American Baptist congregation for a while, and they were a neat little community. The pastor was a great preacher, but I got spooked when I went to lunch with a girl my age who told me that Jerry Falwell was a little too liberal for her. I tried the Episcopalians down the street from the Baptists next, and met a tiny, round, bearded Englishman who took me under his wing and taught me the glories of Anglicanism. I love the language (though I'm willing to be flexible with trying new liturgy, because I think ours can be educationally exclusive), I love the way we worship with all of our senses (eyes: liturgical art, ears: bells and choirs, nose: incense, taste: Eucharist, touch: kneelers, passing peace), I love the way everyone participates in worship, rather than just receiving it. I love most of all the Via Media, and the way we try to worship with everyone, without all have to be alike.

2. I know that you are currently a postulant for the priesthood (and am sorry to hear it’s been “institutionally frustrating” at times). When did you first feel called to the priest hood and what has keep calling you back through the challenges you have faced to date?
On my birthday three and a half years ago, I said for the first time to my priest that I wasn't satisfied with what I was doing vocationally. I felt the sort of restlessness that accompanies seeking. I can see pieces of call much earlier than that, though. In college, I wanted to merge my English major with a concentration on religion in American Lit. My mom thought I would be a pastor long before the idea of women clergy was acceptable to me. And maybe most powerful to me has been that people tend to seek me out and share. I can't tell you how many times people have just say down and shared deep, hard parts of their hearts with me. Strangers, sometimes, will share and let me pray with them. It's awesome to me to be present for that.

3. As you look back on your life, what “watershed” or crossroads event(s) do you identify as having been life changing or course altering for you, especially in terms of your faith journey?
I think right now is a crossroads time for me. I've discovered that my golden times, the times where my deepest self is strong, are the times when I'm finally able to let go of the things that overwhelm me. The ordination process has felt like such a struggle, and I've muffled important parts of myself to get through it. This summer, I've decided that if I have a choice between being whole and being ordained, I'd rather be whole. That doesn't rule out ordination, but it does realign my priorities. I'm now able to envision alternative futures for myself that could be satisfying, too, and I'm wrapping myself in the hope that gives.

4. How did you meet Mr. M?
We worked together in a high school. My first few weeks there, I thought he was one of the students (even though he's 5 years older than I am!) because he had a ridiculous ponytail and Doc Marten's with flames on them!

5. Oh do please tell us about your Inner Crusader Rabbit!
Hee hee. Thanks for asking.
Crusader Rabbit was a very early cartoon, one of the first. The premise behind it was that the hero was very unlikely: a tiny little rabbit who saves the day.
I am about 5'3". Though I'm a little curvy, I have to really fight to keep from being underweight. I love fuzzy sweaters and high heels, and I laugh a lot. I am usually extremely tactful. Sounds harmless, yes?
HOWEVER, I almost never keep my mouth shut when someone who isn't in a position to defend themselves is being mistreated. I have gotten myself in trouble for this more than once, and I'm OK with that.

Thanks for giving me the pleasure of being interviewed. I really enjoyed it, and I would love to pass on the fun. Don't be shy, leave a request in my comments!
1. If you are interested in being interviewed, leave me a comment saying “Interview me.”
2. I will respond by posting five questions for you. I get to pick the questions.
3. You will update your blog with a post containing your answers to the questions.
4. You will include this explanation and an offer to interview someone else in the same post.
5. When others comment asking to be interviewed, you will ask them five questions.


A Crisp Gust of the Obvious

I think I've mentioned that I've been getting a little broody every now and then, looking at onesies and baby slings, thinking that a little ankle-biter might be a nice idea.

Lately, though, I've also had a good strong dose of the opposite, a case of, "Omigod, someday I'm going to have babies and I'll NEVER HAVE HAD ANY FUN AT ALL and I will have LOST MY CHANCE and I will just be TIED DOWN AND MISERABLE."

This is not a fun feeling, let me tell you.

Part of the broodiness and the concentration on onesies stems from the fact that Mr. M is about 5 years older than I am, and he doesn't want to be hobbling around when the little varmits are in kindergarten.

But here's my nor'easter of wisdom today: it's ok to wait a little longer than planned. It's OK to savor a bit more freedom. Him being a few years older than planned is not the end of the world, and it might be a small price for my sanity.


Friday Five: We Shall Overcome Edition

Sally brings us this thoughtful Friday Five. While I'm thinking about it, please keep her in your prayers today-- a near and dear one will be in the hospital today.

1.Have you experienced God's faithfulness at a difficult time? Tell as much or as little as you like...
Confession time, here's my deep dark secret: I was academically suspended for a semester in college. (No, I hadn't been drinking or partying or carousing... I had just been displaying my more extroverted tendancies, learning from my fascinating peers more than my books.) It shouldn't have been a surprise when I was suspended, but I was shocked and terrified. I spent the semester living with my mom, working and going to a community college full-time. Somehow, the whole time I was trying to work my way back into my beloved alma mater (see below), I knew that whatever happened, I would be OK. I desperately wanted to go back (and I did), but I had more trust that God was with me then than I have before or since.

2. Have you experienced a dark night of the soul, if so what brought you through?
I think I'm coming out of one now, and I think that trusting my own abilities to hear God again gets me through. When I relinquish my own power to hear and know God to others, I'm completely unable to sense God's presense.

3. Share a Bible verse, song, poem that has brought you comfort?
I'm a huge fan of "How Great Thou Art," actually.

4. Is "why suffering" a valid question?
Absolutely. I don't have an answer, but it's a question that comes from deep within us, and I think we need to feel free to ask honest questions.

5. And on a lighter note- you have reached the end of a dark and difficult time- how are you going to celebrate?
With a night on the town with my girlfriends. Which would, of course, mean they'd all have to gather in the same state.


Joni Mitchell Surplus

It's either the gray day, Joni Mitchell's "Both Sides, Now," or a recent unexpected milestone, but I'm feeling pretty wistful. I'm happy with where I am-- really, much more so than I've been in a long time. But there are still lovely could-have-beens that float around, and silvery-gray wisps of where'd-they-go that are making me reach out to people I've loved in other times. Making me think of songs not attributed to Ms. Mitchell.

When from the fold we far shall stray
With souls forever young
We'll ne'er forget our college days
These happy scenes among
And when our steps have feeble grown
Our journey almost done
E'en then with fleeting breath we'll praise
Our dear old Denison.

PS-Your mission, should you choose to accept it: Since I'm planning on some good musical wallowing today, give me suggestions for good gray day remembrance songs.
PPS- Holy @#$%! Has anyone else listened to the lyrics of "Come In From the Cold"?!? That's a whole different kind of brooding!!!! Seriously slinky stuff here.


Time Flies

I finally did it. I finally broke down and bought a watch. I couldn't take it anymore-- I felt ridiculous pulling out my cell phone to see the time. (For one thing, there's just no way to do that discretely).

And, since I was going give in anyway, I decided that it was time to buy a grown-up watch. The $8.00 Target model that I started out with did not hold up well. So, my friends, here we are:

A grown-up watch. I'd really like to offset the maturity with these shoes:

Neuralgia or Nostalgia?

I started college ten years ago this week. Made great friends, people I love dearly. (Met other people who still make me cringe when I think about them.)

We're not heading back for homecoming in October (I'm not going to be able to get the time off, and no one seems to be going this year, anyway), but I'm feeling really nostalgic. I just emailed a friend that I don't talk to very often, and I may well haul off and touch base with a few others.

When I realize that college started ten years ago, and I'm still pretty young, I'm finally able to offer myself a little grace about dubious decisions that I made. It's a bit of a relief. My spiritual director is fan-tastic, and she once made the observations that the lotus, lovely as it is, gets its nutrients from the muck of stagnant water. The muck is part of who we are, but there's loveliness that comes with it.


The Things You Find

I'm still cleaning out my predecessor's desk. I found this in a file drawer today:
I cannot begin to imagine what had been in it. Sadly (or to my great relief, I can't decide), it was empty by the time I got to it.

Because I'm Glad You're Here


I just breifly skimmed an article in the Post this morning about 2 more American priests being "consecrated" as African bishops. I have to admit that the first thing that I thought was, "I wonder if this is the only way all of these defecting priests would ever be made bishops."

Our diocese when through the bishop search, it was a long, arduous process for everyone involved. I'm sure these new African, Anglican "bishops" didn't have to do the dog-and-pony show in their new Kenyan/Nigerian/etc dioceses. Here, other priests and laypersons have a vote in who gets to be a new bishop. Is anyone screening for competance, rather than politics?