We Interrupt The Dead Air With This Brief Message

Mr. M gave me a sewing maching for Christmas. I'm so excited I can hardly stand myself.

I had a sewing machine-- it used to be my mom's, worked perfectly well, but weighed about a thousand pounds. I really wanted to love using it, but I didn't. Because I've been teaching myself to sew, starting from scratch on a non-intuitive machine (even though it was sturdy and faithful and cool) was tricky. I started sewing by hand when I was still a single-digit, so I just avoided the behemoth and did things the slow way.

My new machine is wonderful, and I'm so excited by how easy it's been to use.

So, I made a little makeup brush pouch for a girlfriend. It's not perfect, but it's functional and it was fun to make. For a first machine project, it's not too shabby!

(Meanwhile, yes, there are other posts coming, and someday I may also reply to email, too. *sigh*)


Friday Five
I've Got My Eye On You!

Sophia gave us a fun Friday Five this week:

1. What color are your beautiful eyes? Did you inherit them from or pass them on to anyone in your family?
A college buddy once referred to them as "pond-water green." They kind of match my mom's old USMC uniforms, if that's a helpful reference. I don't know how I wound up with them-- mom's are blue, and dad's are brown!

2. What color eyes would you choose if you could change them?
I'm happy with green, but would have liked them to be more emerald than moss!

3. Do you wear glasses or contacts? What kind? Like 'em or hate 'em?
I switch back and forth between the two. It's actually time to get new frames, which I dread a little... it's hard to find a pair I like.

4. Ever had, or contemplated, laser surgery? Happy with the results?
Haven't had it, and am pretty squeamed out by the idea! I love that it works for people, though.

5. Do you like to look people in the eye, or are you more eye-shy?
I definitely look people in the eye, unless I'm really mad. Then, not so much. Fortunately, that's pretty rare.

Bonus question: Share a poem, song, or prayer that relates to eyes and seeing.
The classic, gorgeous cummings poem comes to mind:
i thank You God for most this amazing
day:for the leaping greenly spirits of trees
and a blue true dream of sky;and for everything
which is natural which is infinite which is yes
(i who have died am alive again today,
and this is the sun's birthday;this is the birth
day of life and of love and wings:and of the gay
great happening illimitably earth)
how should tasting touching hearing seeing
breathing any--lifted from the no
of allnothing--human merely being
doubt unimaginable You?
(now the ears of my ears awake and
now the eyes of my eyes are opened)


Friday Five
Advent Longings

Sally is very thoughtful this week, and shares this lovely Friday Five:
"Imagine a complex, multi-cultural society that annually holds an elaborate winter festival, one that lasts not simply a few days, but several weeks. This great festival celebrates the birth of the Lord and Saviour of the world, the prince of peace, a man who is divine. People mark the festival with great abundance- feasting, drinking and gift giving....." (Richard Horsley- The Liberation of Christmas)
The passage goes on, recounting the decorations that are hung, and the songs and dances that accompany the festival, how the economy booms and philanthropic acts abound....
But this is not Christmas- this is a Roman festival in celebration of the Emperor....This is the world that Jesus was born into! The world where the early Christians would ask "Who is your Saviour the Emperor or Christ?"
And yet our shops and stores and often our lives are caught up in a world that looks very much like the one of ancient Rome, where we worship at the shrine of consumerism....
Advent on the other hand calls us into the darkness, a time of quiet preparation, a time of waiting, and re-discovering the wonder of the knowledge that God is with us. Advent's call is to simplicity and not abundance, a time when we wait for glorious light of God to come again...
Christ is with us at this time of advent, in the darkness, and Christ is coming with his light- not the light of the shopping centre, but the light of love and truth and beauty.
What do you long for this advent? What are your hopes and dreams for the future? What is your prayer today?
In the vein of simplicity I ask you to list five advent longings....

I'm a natural longer and hoper (despite a recent lapse), so the hard part for me might be limiting it to five... or it might be sharing the ones that I don't want to jinx by naming them out loud! My husband and I do this crazy thing where every New Year's Day we have a Visioning Date, and just recented we've added Planning Dates every two months to evaluate, strategize, and change course when needed. I really look forward to these, and can hardly wait for our Visioning Date this year, because it seems like there are so many possibilities in front of us. Here's a little start of my longings:

1. More closeness with the gorgeous Mr. M. He's quite lovely, and I can be a bit skittish.
2. I'd like to find a new church home.
3. I want to take time to just sit and hold hands with God more.
4. New bits of family have just gotten in touch. I'm scared, but I think I'd like to (sloooooowly) get to know them a little better.
5. Don't we all need a little mystery? ;)


Motion Sickness

In the last week:
- I've really struggled with sadness about leaving my congregation.
- Mr. M has begun to address some big issues with his family.
- I'm starting to realize how mad I am with my diocese. (And at the same time, how relieved I am to discover I wasn't the only one having huge problems with it!)
- My father's son from his first marriage (whom I have never met nor spoken to) introduced himself via email.
- Did I mention my father and I haven't spoken in years?
- A cousin on my father's side got in touch (haven't seen her in over 20 years).

And coming up this week:
- We're still going to the in-laws' house for Thanksgiving.
- Mr. M and I have decided to find a new apartment (probably moving in March).
- On Saturday, I'm having lunch with a friend from college. Really neat guy, but there are reasons to expect it to be awkward.

Life is making me a little queasy. I think the earth's revolutions are causing motion sickness.


Daydreaming as Discernment

I completely stopped daydreaming for a few years.

There was an imagination embargo.

I think I was in a strict "make the best of the situation" frame of mind, and couldn't really let myself think about alternatives. But slowly, the ice is melting, and I'm seeing my best next step as really taking time to fantasize about where I'd love to be, and how I'd love to serve. Then, it will be time to see who looks like the best fit.

Now, I'm going to go re-read Bruggemann, and maybe some Whitman and remember what a useful discernment tool imagination is.

We can insert a lot of caveats about the lurking danger of just completely going wild and out-of-control (similar arguments for the inherant danger of grace, now that I think about it), or about having unrealistic expectations, but I fall a little too clearly on the cynical tightass side of the spectrum for that to be a real concern.


Friday Five
For Remembrance

This week's Friday Five (brought to us by Sophia) invites reflection on the theme of remembrance, which is also present in the feasts of All Saints, celebrated in many liturgical churches on November 1, and All Souls--known in Latino cultures as the Day of the Dead--celebrated in some the following day.

1. Did your church have any special celebrations for All Saints/All Soul's Day?
My former/current?/most recent parish reads the names of loved ones departed during communion.

2. How about Veterans' Day?
That we definitely do not do. I would be ok with it (I think), but the rector is an Englishman who is particularly conscious of holidays like these.

3. Did you and your family have a holiday for Veterans' Day/Remembrance Day? If so, how did you take advantage of the break?
Nope! Work as usual.

4. Is there a veteran in your life, living or dead, whose dedication you remember and celebrate? Or perhaps a loved one presently serving in the armed forces?
Actually, in my immediate family, November 10th is more important than Veteran's Day. It's the Marine Corps birthday! I call my mom every year to tell her "Happy Birthday!"

Story time: She spent 21 years in the USMC, and went to the birthday ball every year. Most (if not all) of the other women there were in lovely formal gowns, and she wore her uniform. So the first year that she was retired, we got all dressed up and went to the Marine Room on Nov. 10th to celebrate. (Of course, that "marine" was referring to it's location right on the beach, rather than the military, but we were OK with that.)

5. Do you have any personal rituals which help you remember and connect with loved ones who have passed on?
I really don't.


Checking In

I've been blog-reading (finally gave in to Google reader, and now I LOVE IT!), but not blog-posting much.

Things are good, though. Mr. M and I spent the weekend with marvelous friends (as seen below).

More updates later, kiddos!


Because everyone likes to color!

Break out the crayons, markers, or colored pencils! Tonight's a good time to color!


It's Election Day! In the word of Cute Overload, DO EET!

I got to my polling place at 7:05 this morning (polls opened at 7), and waited in line for about 35 minutes. But you know what? Too many people taking part in the democratic process is exactly the kind of problem I want to have!


Thanks be to God!

I can be a huge weenie sometimes. Fortunately, Mr. M has a low threshold for this.

I started "dating" new churches this Sunday. (Yes, I'm sticking with the relationship analogy.) I was more than a little terrified to start. My initial plan had been to take a few months off, worship with the Quakers (clearly a good place for discernment), and then start looking. But I met with a new friend last week, and felt like it might be OK to start exploring. I was good until Sunday morning, when I was was not at all pleased to be branching out. Mr. M bundled me up, opened my car door, and showed great forebearance when I fretted all the way to the parking lot.

Getting ready for church stunk. Going into a new church stunk.

Realizing 10 minutes in that church is church, God is God, and this denominational stuff is really not that important was fabulous.


Friday Five: Potpourri Edition

Woohoo! It's will smama doing the Friday Five this week! Here's what we've got:

As I zip around the webring it is quite clear that we are getting BUSY. "Tis the season" when clergy and laypeople alike walk the highwire from Fall programming to Christmas carrying their balancing pole with family/rest on the one side and turkey shelters/advent wreaths on the other.And so I offer this Friday Five with 5 quick hit questions... and a bonus:

1) Your work day is done and the brain is fried, what do you do?
Well, the very first thing I do is hop in the shower (washing the day off), or at least change clothes. I don't care if what I wore to work is actually more comfortable than what I change into-- I want to take the day off. Then I probably take about 20 minutes of quiet time with God before I putter downstairs to see what Mr. M has going for dinner. (Bless his wonderful heart.)

2) Your work week is done and the brain is fried (for some Friday, others Sunday afternoon), what do you do?
Sleep until at least 10 on Saturday, cuddling with the cats and Mr. M. Head out for breakfast/brunch. Maybe go for a run. Read a ton of mind candy books.

3) Like most of us, I often keep myself busy even while programs are on the tv. I stop to watch The Office and 30 Rock on Thursday nights. Do you have 'stop everything' tv programming or books or events or projects that are totally 'for you' moments?
We're (sort of) a TV-free house. We don't have cable, and we get absolutely zero reception on the standard channels. What we do have is all seven seasons of West Wing, and a good start on Scrubs. They're not "stop everything" TV, but they are well-loved.

4) When was the last time you laughed, really laughed? What was so funny?
Some wonderful college friends made me laugh pretty hard this morning on Facebook. The cats make me laugh a lot. Honestly? I'm a laugher. There's a lot that strikes me as funny. My mom's sense of humor is very similar to mine, so we laugh till we cry,which is completely unnerving to Mr. M.

5) What is a fairly common item that some people are willing to go cheap on, but you are not.
Pens. I'm a big ol' pen snob. I keep one fountain pen on my desk, and another in my purse, and I use those instead of cheapo disposables. I love nice inks.


More Dots

  • I ran across an appalling fictitious letter from Focus on the Family (I found it on someone's blog, can't remember whose now. Sorry about the lack of attribution.) I can't find a link on Focus's website, nor am I seeing articles about it in the vile MSM, so I'm just assuming it's real. At any rate, it's infuriating. It reminds me again how sad I am for most Muslims that so many associate them with extremists. I certainly hate the idea of being associated with this brand of Christianity.
  • Mr. M and I are having a "What's Next?" date on Friday. We don't expect to come out of it with answers, but it'll be a nice time to see if we're even asking the same questions.
  • I'm thinking about seminary. Not much more to share than that, but I'm thinking about it. No idea where or how. Loving that some schools have a joint MDiv/JD plan, but cannot imagine how I'd use it. Or, you know, pay for it. ;)
  • I'm still reading Gerald May's Dark Night of the Soul. It's on my reading list for class, tho I am going through the syllabus out of order. The book is wonderful, and goes on my long list of support that I'm feeling lately. Isn't it wonderful to remind outselves that people who have since been canonized really struggled? May talks about Theresa of Avila and John of the Cross, neither of whom were popular with their church. In Theresa's case, it's particularly interesting to read about her learning to trust herself.
  • Carla Bruni's latest album, Comme Si De Rien N'Etait, is really lovely.


Loving the Dots

Thank heavens lovely other bloggers set the precident of bullets to keep things going. I'm joining in:
  • I have felt incredibly encouraged lately-- by lovely RevGals (whom I'm thrilled to still be here with, thank you), by the church members that I'm slowly telling, by family members (who easily could have gone either way), even by some local clergy. I couldn't even begin to explain how grateful I am.
  • I will be even more grateful when I can go to my first Spiritual Director's class of the year (next week). I'm chomping at the bit to be back with those classmates.
  • Mr. M has been fabulous. Unfortunately, I think he's having a harder time with my resignation than I am. I'm mad sometimes, but mostly relieved. He's mad on my behalf, and doesn't have many people to talk to about it.
  • I'm trying out how to untangle myself. I'm still on the roster for serving the chalice, and I'm still leading weekly evening prayer. Ack! I feel comfortable saying no, I'm just not sure what I do and don't want to say no to yet! I want to be able to worship with this parish occasionally, but I also want some Sundays (both to get a little distance, and to explore other churches). I'm trying to figure out what feels right.
  • I'm a little worn out from all this discerning, and I'm having a hard time being faithful in prayer. I know I feel better when I do it (much like exercise), but starting has been hard.
  • I want nothing more than to gather all my favorite people together (IRL friends and blog friends) and just play for a week or so. I'm missing people like crazy.
  • I'll have lunch this week with a UCC seminary prof whom I really like. That might help in discernment, but will definitely be fun either way.

How are you all doing?


Friday Five
Location, Location, Location

Singing Owl brings us this Friday Five:

My daughter, her husband, and their toddler, Trinity Ann, are moving from Minneapolis, Minnesota to our place. It's a long story, but the short version is that they will be loading a Ryder truck on Saturday, and on Sunday afternoon we will unload it into a storage unit in our town. They will move themselves, their two cats and their BIG dog into our place. Yes, there will be issues, but this Friday Five isn't really about that. (Prayers for jobs for them and patience for all of us are most welcome, however.) This post is about locations. My husband has lived at 64 addresses in his life so far (16 with me) and he suggested the topic since we have moving trucks on our minds.

Therefore, tell us about the five favorite places you have lived in your lifetime. What did you like? What kind of place was it? Anything special happen there?

I have a lot of choices to pick from. At last count, I've lived at at least 22 different addresses (not counting separate dorms in college). When you consider that I'm 28, and have lived in the same building for the last 6 years, that's saying something.

So, here are my top 5:

1) Bethesda, MD
I LOVED living near our nation's capital. The cost of living is high, but there is a ton of free fun stuff to do. I love the diversity, I love the public transportation (in fact, I like combining the two: listening to all the different languages spoken on the Metro). We moved there 2nd semester of my junior year of high school. I made wonderful friends, and for the very first time ever found people that I felt like I really fit in with. Oh, and did I mention how much I love all the different kinds of food?

2) Granville, OH
I went to Homecoming last weekend, and remembered how much I loved my college stomping grounds. It's a little funny to share this as part of the Friday Five, because I realized that part of the reason I love Granville so much is that my 4 years of college were the first time I'd ever lived somewhere for more than about 2 1/2 years. No kidding it feels like home! It's a charming town, the campus is beautiful, and the memories are (mostly-- the ones that don't make me cringe, anyway) wonderful.

3) Okinawa, Japan
I did not expect to enjoy Okinawa. We went for a year when I was in 8th grade, and ended up wishing we'd requested a 3-year tour. Because my mom chose an "unaccompanied" tour (1 year, and she took me at her expense), we lived out in town instead of on base. I had a lot of freedom, and really enjoyed exploring. I took the bus in town, explored tiny fun shops, and took walks down the winding streets. That year was really an adventure.

4) Oceanside, CA
We moved a lot, but we also returned to CA a lot. So, off and on, I spent more time growing up in California than anywhere else. There are a lot of things that I miss about it, things I didn't appreciate when I was there. (Yes, the food again, but not JUST the food.) It was another place where diversity and integration were the norm, rather than just a topic of dicussion (by a bunch of white people). I miss how normal it was for people to be active and outside. There were a lot of public areas-- parks and mountains and beaches. I lived in a city, but it was easy to get to open spaces.

5) Elizabethtown, PA
Here, I live in the country, and it's really difficult to be in open spaces-- because they all belong to someone else!
I'm including this mostly because it's where I met Mr. M, and because major life things have happened here. It's been horizon-broading; I've never lived in such a small town before. There are fun parts: the fair every summer, the farmers' market, the historical buildings.



Thanks for all the warm words. I feel peaceful and relieve by my decision to resign, but telling people about it is really hard.

Hard to tell the Episcopalians-- IRL friends and blog friends, alike. I've started to tell members of my parish, and that's a bit scary. One fantastic man was so supportive I wept. Others have offered stories of people they know who went on to flourish somewhere else. A discerning deacon told me about someone she knew who went from TEC to being an ordained Baptist! There's precedent, and I'm grateful for those who are sharing what they know of it. I'm hearing a good bit of disappointment-- not judgement, but disappointment.

Hard to tell the friends who aren't church-y, hard to express why this is a big deal, and what's going on exactly.

And, since I'm in limbo, I feel a little awkward here in my beloved RevGal circle. I really loved my church. You know what? I still love it. I'm still leading evening prayer on Monday nights (yes, there's a future post coming about how in the heck to unentangle myself). In this liminal space, am I still a part of church-y things?

The external, interpersonal is tough right now, but the internal, intrapersonal/spiritual is wonderful. I have a wonderful sense of being carried, and of waiting with expectation. (Would it help to say that I've entered a personal time of Advent?) There's mystery and wonder in this time, but it's hard to share. I feel so strongly that this isn't the beginning of a new book, just a new chapter. Do you mind sitting with me even when I can't show you what God has next?


Act One Ends, and Intermission Begins

This past weekend I mailed my letter of resignation of postulancy to the bishop. I wrote the draft almost a month ago, gave it to my rector, and then sat on it for a little while. I've been wondering if I was in the right place for... well over a year at least. For a long time it didn't occur to me that I might be called to ordained ministry, just not in the Episcopal church.

Before I joined my current parish, I didn't believe women could be pastors. In fact, I was really uncertain about Pastor Charlotte, the curate at the time. I've always been a denominational mutt (grandparents are Catholic, attended an evangelical elementary school, pseudo-family was Church of Christ--not to be confused with UCC), but none of that included a place for women. My mom told me when I was a teenager that she saw me becoming a pastor, and I was horrified-- women shouldn't do that! And then on my birthday, during Advent 5 years ago, I started talking to my rector about a restlessness I felt, a dissatisfaction.

As I said in my letter:

I love the Episcopal Church. I love the reliable, ever-presentness of the liturgy in these churches. I became centered by letting Communion be my center—weekly on Sundays, but also at the times when it was needed the most: weddings, funerals, baptisms, hospital visits. I was reminded each time I served the chalice that, whether or not everyone was easy to get along with, everyone at the rail was a part of the body of Christ. I was touched with a new sense of eternity when I first took Communion at a funeral, and realized that I was in community not just with those present, but those who have gone before. I’ve prepared sermons that taught me more about the nature of God than they taught anyone in the congregation. I’ve found a gentle, steady joy in leading worship, and in being led.

I love the universality of the Prayer Book, but I’ve missed shared personal prayer. I respect the roles of clergy, but I long for a more empowered laity. I accepted the Episcopal emphasis on obedience, but personally found that in trying to be obedient and compliant, I lost the freedom to be myself. I understand that no church will be a “perfect fit,” and in fact our imperfection is what reminds us that we need one another. However, I believe that some of those differences created a barrier to communication. Whereas in the past I’ve believed that frustration could be overcome through my own effort, I now see that it is a sign pointing to another path, and another denomination.

I feel unbelievablely blessed by the last 5 years. I've learned so much. I've been able to be part of some wonderful relationships and communities. It truly doesn't feel like wasted time. Some of this process has been incredibly painful, but it got me to where I am.

I'd been dreading resignation. Do you know the poem, "Hound of Heaven?" That's what it felt like-- I kept trying to believe that I could make things work. I heard, crystal-clear, "It's time to go." I almost never hear instructions that clear. I read something Diane posted, sound advice: Talk to everyone, because you never know what the Holy Spirit has in mind. I started talking to people. Guess what? You don't get stoned or mocked (not automatically, anyway), if you feel called to ministry but change dominations.

I am shocked by how supportive and loving people (surprising people-- people who have never felt supportive before!) have been. I expected this transition to be very, very hard, and instead it's been a big relief. Sometimes, God asks us to do hard things. Other times, trusting is the hardest part, and once we trust grace blooms in abundance.

I don't know what happens next. The second year of Spiritual Direction for Spiritual Guides is starting, and it's a wonderful community for discernment. I'll worship with Mr. M at Quaker meeting. (I know I'm not a Quaker, but again, a great place for discernment.) In the analogy of relationships, I'm being careful not to jump into a rebound church. I want some time to grow and reflect.

Thanks for listening.


Because I Don't Have to Worry About Looking Ungentlemanly

Listen, lady: Drilling to resolve an energy crisis is like making crystal meth to solve the nation's drug problems!


Johnny Appleseed Friday Five

Singing Owl offers us this unusual Friday Five:

Raise your hand if you know that today is Johnny Appleseed Day! (I didn't, but I do remember the stories from elementary school!)

September 26, 1774 was his birthday. Johnny Appleseed" (John Chapman) is one of America's great legends. He was a nurseryman who started out planting trees in western New York and Pennsylvania, but he was among those who were captivated by the movement west across the continent.
As Johnny travelled west (at that time, the "West" was places like Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, and Illinois) he planted apple trees and sold trees to settlers. With every apple tree that was planted, the legend grew. A devout Christian, he was known to preach during his travels. According to legend, Johny Appleseed led a simple life and wanted little. He rarely accepted money and often donated any money he received to churches or charities. He planted hundereds of orchards, considering it his sevice to humankind. There is some link between Johny Appleseed and very early Arbor Day celebrations.

So, in honor of this interesting fellow, let's get on with the questions!

1. What is your favorite apple dish? (BIG BONUS points if you share the recipe.)

I like fresh apples better than raw, but Dave loves it when I make blueberry and apple pie. I'll have to get back to you with the recipe.

2. Have you ever planted a tree? If so was there a special reason or occasion you can tell us about?
I've never lived in a place where I could plant a tree! That's the down side of moving so often, I guess. (Though clearly, it didn't stop Johnny. Ah, the glory days before apartment complexes and Homeowners Associations!)

3. Does the idea of roaming around the countryside (preaching or otherwise) appeal to you? Why or why not?
Mixed feels on that one. As one who has roamed around the world, I'm not as scared of the idea as some people are. When I moved here, I thought it would be a good place to put down "roots" (hee hee, pun intended), but I feel really ready to move on.

4. Who is a favorite "historical legend" of yours?
Don't have one. Was never wild about historical legends. I'm starting to enjoy Greek mythology, but I don't think that Atalanta is who we're getting at with this question...

5. Johnny Appleseed was said to sing to keep up his spirits as he travelled the roads of the west. Do you have a song that comes when you are trying to be cheerful, or is there something else that you often do?
Anytime I'm stressed out, singing in the car helps. Doesn't matter what it is.

But since you gave me this opportunity, I'm going to tell you that last night I went to the BEST. CONCERT. EVER. Abigail Washington and the Sparrow Quartet. Mind you, part of that quartet is Bela Fleck! They were unbelievably marvelous!


Identity Theft

Miriam-Webster defines prejudice in the following ways:

1: injury or damage resulting from some judgment or action of another in disregard of one's rights ; especially : detriment to one's legal rights or claims2 a (1): preconceived judgment or opinion (2): an adverse opinion or leaning formed without just grounds or before sufficient knowledge b: an instance of such judgment or opinion c: an irrational attitude of hostility directed against an individual, a group, a race, or their supposed characteristics

My mom has joked that my groups of friends always look like a mini-United Nations. Growing up in the military, all over the world, that was very normal. Of course I'd talk to anyone: anyone was the only person there to talk to! We were all, constantly, the new person or the outsider. We lived abroad, we lived in DC, we lived in Southern California: all places where diversity was the norm. I've sat on the wall at Arlington cemetary, talking to a stranger for a couple of hours. I've prayed with a a woman in the foyer of a Catholic church whom I'd never seen before, and haven't seen since. I have truly enjoyed talking to anyone. And I'm mad as a little wet hen when people are unwilling to try to know other people.

I've been remarkably lucky, in that I haven't experienced much prejudice personally through the years-- or if I did, it was flagrant, and so I didn't take the judgements personally. Lately, though, I'm experiencing a situation where someone thinks one thing about me, and I know in my bones it isn't true. I also know that I've spent almost no time at all with this person, and I've been completely baffled by how he reached his conclusions.

Judging someone without knowing them is prejudicial. Period.

I feel like I've just been smacked on the side of the head. I'm stunned. I've been struggling and struggling, trying to understand this man's misconceptions, frustrated because he didn't know me but had odd expectations of me.

And now I'm even more confused. Because you have to know that I would hate to give something up because of Prejudice. Ignorance. But at the same time, when you're a sole voice, what can you do?


Books as Hope-Givers

I have always been a lover of books, and today I come to you, dear ones, to solicit your advice. Could you please recommend your favorite load-lightening and hope giving books? I'll share some of mine with you to get things going (click on any of the images to get synopsis/reviews).

I'm particularly enjoying fairy tales lately, like this one:
I also really love books about people who love books, like these:

I love homey books, where people laugh and look after one another. Those are good in both the fictional and non-fictional varieties:


Mrs. M Ponders Alternatives

Since breaking up didn't work the first time, I'm left pondering a little.

Could those of you who are part of other traditions tell me a little about your polity? What works, what doesn't? What makes you feel hopeful, what has you concerned?

I would really, really appreciate your input.

Fall Equinox Friday Five

Thanks to Songbird for this week's lovely Friday Five:

It's that time of year, at least north of the equator. The windows are still open, but the darned furnace comes on early in the morning. My husband went out for a walk after an early supper and came home in full darkness.
And yes, where we live, leaves are beginning to turn.
As this vivid season begins, tell us five favorite things about fall:

This year is actually the first one that I haven't been dragged into autumn, kicking and screaming all the way. I'm looking forward to it, maybe because the summer was so busy. It feels really right for things to get cozier and cooler.

1) A fragrance
I LOVE the smell of leaves on the ground. The first time I really experienced that was at college in Ohio, and the smell still takes me back there. I think college is where I learned (rather late, I know) to play, so leaves are a really happy smell for me.

2) A color
Orange! Of course orange! Because they're the color of... SWEET POTATOES!!! Mmmm... I was saying just yesterday that it's time for those tasty tubers again!

3) An item of clothing
My 14-year old cowboy boots. I'm wearing them today for the first time this season. I love them. These suckers will live forever! They're brown, and scuffed (though I realized last year that I actually can polish them!), and the toe of one is raggedy from where my old roommate's rabbit chewed it. I love them. (Though, don't tell, but I'm going to find me a red pair this year! Too much Footloose in formative years? Maybe.)

4) An activity
I love being outdoors, doing just about anything this time of year. Frisbee, running, biking. It's just gorgeous.

5) A special day
Well, next week Mr. M and I celebrate 4 years of being married! And I keep noticing that I enjoy him more every year, so 9/25 is definitely going to count as my special day.


Mrs. M Shamelessly Compares Herself to Abraham

Now the LORD said to Abram, "Go from your country and your kindred and your father's house to the land that I will show you. I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed."
-Genesis 12:1-3

My experience of call has been that we almost always talk about call to, rather than call away from. Biblically, though, I can identify an awful lot of calls away. Abram away from Ur, Moses and the Israelites away from Egypt (technically that one was to the promised land, but when you're wandering in the desert for 40 years, I think we can count this one as feeling more like a "from" than a "to"), all of the apostles.

I mention this to remind all of us that God is in the leavings and the endings, and not just in the new beginnings. When we're leaving, God doesn't offer to meet us at the other side. God doesn't tell us to call once we're free from our current entanglement. Setting things aside, leaving, making changes-- sometimes those are the acts of faithfulness, even more so than taking things up.


In Which Nothing of Any Striking Significance Happens

There's not much to report right now. It may well be the calm before the storm, but it's quiet. We've had rain-then sun-then rain- then sun lately, which I like. I'm a huge fan of rainstorms (they're really comforting, I can't explain this), but I get moody when it's gray too long, so it's been nice.

I'm in discerning overload, but I'm not doing it alone, which is wonderful. I'm wincing a little, because Episcopalians talk a lot about discerning ministry in community, and my experience with the process hasn't been that way at all. Those discerning with me are not people with whom I have relationships at all. Admittedly, in the early stages, I had a parish discernment group,and my vestry recommended me, but at the diocesan level I wouldn't say I've experienced community.

But, as I'm starting to ask broader questions, I'm finding that wonderful people whom I really enjoy are just racing out of the woodwork to be part of discernment. And that is a tremendous gift from God. And very possibly a nudge.


Mrs. M Joyfully Embraces Dubious Theology

For many, many years, my mom has given me the gift of these wise words:

"God didn't take you this far to drop you on your head."

I'm not totally convinced it's sound theology, but it is a reminder that God is always with me. As is Charlotte's wonderful liturgy (in comments).

I'm having a rough time right now, but God is loving me through a lot of people. It's pretty extraordinary. (And I'm letting them. Also extraordinary, frankly.)

Friday Five: Vulnerability

Sally was very thoughtful in this prayerful and sad time in our community. Here's her Friday Five:

I have recently been reading a book entitled Jesus wept, it is all about vulnerability in leadership. The authors speak of how Jesus shared his earthly frustrations and vulnerabilities with a select group of people. To some he was the charismatic leader and teacher, to others words of wisdom were opened and explained and some frustrations shared, to his "inner circle of friends: Peter, James and John, he was most fully himself, and in all of these things he was open to God.So I bring you this weeks Friday 5

1. Is vulnerability something that comes easily to you, or are you a private person?
It's hard to say. I've had people tell me I'm too reserved, but they've always been people I didn't feel safe with. I've also had people tell me they don't know people as open as I am. It really comes down to who I feel safe with.

2.How important is it to keep up a professional persona in work/ ministry?
You know, this is something I've been talking about a lot lately. I'm not sure that "professional" is the word I'd use, because that sounds a little clinical. I do think that strong boundaries are really important. I think there are times to let other people know that you make mistakes/have hard times/have good times, but I also think we have to be cautious to make sure our sharing isn't just for our own sake.

3. Masks, a form of self protection discuss...
I think less of masks and more of armor. I don't necessarily see myself pretending to be someone else when I need to be protected, just not revealing all of who I am.

4. Who knows you warts and all?
Mr. M. Also, a good handful of college friends. (So much so that sometimes I say to them, "I can't believe you know all the stupid things I've done, and you still love me." Their response? "Yes, but you know mine, too!")

5. Share a book, a prayer, a piece of music, a poem or a person that touches the deep place in your soul, and calls you to be who you are most authentically.
I turn to Whitman for prayer a lot, and lately I've really been drawn to this. I don't know that it calls forth my truest self, but it does resonate with my truest self:

Why! who makes much of a miracle?
As to me, I know of nothing else but miracles,
Whether I walk the streets of Manhattan,
Or dart my sight over the roofs of houses toward the sky,
Or wade with naked feet along the beach, just in the edge of thewater,
Or stand under trees in the woods,
Or talk by day with any one I love--or sleep in the bed at night withany one I love,
Or sit at table at dinner with my mother,
Or look at strangers opposite me riding in the car,
Or watch honey-bees busy around the hive, of a summer forenoon,
Or animals feeding in the fields,
Or birds--or the wonderfulness of insects in the air,
Or the wonderfulness of the sun-down--or of stars shining so quietand bright,
Or the exquisite, delicate, thin curve of the new moon in spring;
Or whether I go among those I like best, and that like me best--mechanics, boatmen, farmers,
Or among the savans--or to the soiree--or to the opera,
Or stand a long while looking at the movements of machinery,
Or behold children at their sports,
Or the admirable sight of the perfect old man, or the perfect old woman,
Or the sick in hospitals, or the dead carried to burial,
Or my own eyes and figure in the glass;
These, with the rest, one and all, are to me miracles,
The whole referring--yet each distinct, and in its place.
To me, every hour of the light and dark is a miracle,
Every cubic inch of space is a miracle,
Every square yard of the surface of the earth is spread with the same,
Every foot of the interior swarms with the same;
Every spear of grass--the frames, limbs, organs, of men and women,and all that concerns them,
All these to me are unspeakably perfect miracles.
To me the sea is a continual miracle;
The fishes that swim--the rocks--the motion of the waves--the ships,with men in them,
What stranger miracles are there?


Cheesy song or no, it really IS hard to do.

Do you remember the last time you broke up with someone that you still really loved? Let me refresh your memory:

- You feel very, very sad, and cry in the car a lot.
- They really are wonderful, you just aren't right for each other.
- You wonder if you can still be friends.
- People don't understand that even though it needed to happen, it's still very, very sad.
- You wonder if your mutual friends will stop talking to you.
- They're still an old love, and you may always have a sense of "what might have been."
- You're worried about hurting them, worried about what they'll think-- because they mean so much to you that their opinion matters.
- You think about giving back your key to their place, and can't stop crying.
- You still sincerely want the best for them.
- You spend a lot of time trying to figure out how you could make it work.
- You miss them for a really, really long time. You know that, even though it wasn't meant to be, there are things about them that no one else is ever going to replace.

Well, I just wanted to let you know that it works about the same way with an institution.


Without A Net

I've been having frustrating conversations with God lately. Here are a few examples:

Me: Please tell me what you want me to do.
God: I want you to do X.
Me: Really? I'm not sure about that idea.

Me: This is a tough decision-- do I take the tidy, straightforward, well-mapped option, or do I fly without a net?
God: Well, flying without a net is your decision. But does it look to you like I'm letting you take the tidy option?

Me: I'm really scared. I don't want to make a decision for the wrong reasons.
God: I am really, really big, and I'm in this with you.

Stay tuned, friends.


PSA Week: Microfinance

I learned about microfinance a couple of years ago when I worked with a woman who had lived in South Africa. Here's the idea: there are entrepreneurs all over the developing world who need just a tiny bit of help to get their businesses off the ground. You're not donating (though you can), you're investing very small sums of money (often $25) in efforts that help people become self-sufficient.

I lend through Kiva, but there are others out there.

Friday Five: Labor Day Edition

Singing Owl gives us this fun Friday Five:

Here in the USA we are celebrating the last fling of the good ol' summertime. It is Labor Day weekend, and families are camping, playing in the park, swimming, grilling hotdogs in the backyard, visiting amusement parks and zoos and historical sites and outdoor concerts and whatever else they can find to help them extend summer's sun and play just a little bit longer.It is supposed to also be a celebration of the working man and woman, the backbone of the American economy, the "salt-of-the-earth neices and nephews of Uncle Sam. With apologies to those in other countries, this is a Friday Five about LABOR. All can play. Put down that hammer, that spoon, that rolling pin, that rake, that pen, that commentary, that lexicon, and let's have some fun.

1. Tell us about the worst job you ever had.
The worst job I ever had was working as a secretary in someone's at-home business. He was really nuts, and had a short fuse (with unexpected triggers).

2. Tell us about the best job you ever had.
The one I have right now. I love it. I work for a non-profit, have a fabulous boss, fun coworkers (for the most part), and I'm getting some really interesting stuff to work on.

3. Tell us what you would do if you could do absolutely anything (employment related) with no financial or other restrictions.
Well, splitting my time between college chaplaincy and parish ministry would be one option. The other? I think I could have a heck of a lot of fun in politics.

4. Did you get a break from labor this summer? If so, what was it and if not, what are you gonna do about it?
I got several breaks! We took a very belated honeymoon in June. A few weeks ago, I spent a weekend with one of my favorite girlfriends in Dayton. And this afternoon, Mr. M and I are leaving for North Carolina to visit our friend Tom, who likes to say that we went to college together, 20 miles and 50 years apart. (His college, class of '49, my college, class of '01)
This has maybe been the best summer I've ever had. I've had half days on Fridays, and I've spent a lot of mini-breaks at Longwood Gardens. Sitting in front of fountains, treehouses, waterfalls, and formal gardens with the wonderful collection of Love Poems from God has been an incredible break for me. Now that I think about it, my current blog background is from Longwood!

5. What will change regarding your work as summer morphs into fall? Are you anticipating or dreading?
Well, today is my last summer 1/2 day Friday, so that will change. I'm not sure yet what else will change, but I know that I have an either/or in front of me in terms of ministry formation, so we'll see what that holds.
This is the first year I've not dreaded fall. I love the warmth of summer, the long bright days, all the outdoor playtime. This year I feel like I'm not still hungry for the season as it ends. I'm comfortable, but full.

Bonus question: For the gals who are mothers, do you have an interesting story about labor and delivery (LOL)? If you are a guy pal, not a mom, or you choose not to answer the above, is there a song, a book, a play, that says "workplace" to you?
Well, I haven't been in labor, but my mom's story is that when she got the epidural that she didn't want in the first place (her mother insisted, and that's who the doc took orders from), all it did was numb her left leg.


PSA Week:
Furry Needs Day

In honor of Fish and Whistle's birthday, and also Mindy's new baby, today's PSA is for the Humane Society.

OK, also because when Mr. M caught on to the fact that I'm doing a series of Public Service Announcements, he very sweetly requested that I include the Humane Society.

We have a HUGE problem with feral cats in our county. There just aren't nearly enough homes for the numbers of cats, so I remind you: spay and neuter your pets!


We Interupt These Public Service Announcements For Your Regularly Scheduled Broadcasting

I just read something over at Mercenary Presbyter's blog that was so important I had to rush right over here and share.

She says, "If there's one thing I learned from Dr. Rick Carlson at LTSG, it's talk to everyone because you never know what the Holy Spirit might have in mind."

Holy Mackerel!!!

For YEARS! I've felt that chatting things out with other people was a weakness, and what I "should" really be doing when at a crossroads is to shut myself in a room with God. That is helpful and important, but maybe, just maybe... the Holy Spirit has more ways of working that just that.

Marvelous. What a liberating perspective. Now, as I try to find my way at my present crossroads, I can embrace God's work in it a little better. And I can look forward to talking to some wonderful people, instead of being embarrassed by that need.

PSA: Rosalind Wiseman

Today's PSA is for the Owning Up curriculum by Rosalind Wiseman. You might recognize the name from the book, Queen Bees and Wannabes or from the very popular, Mean Girls. A girlfriend of mine (from middle school-- wow) teaches this curriculum to students. She's been really excited by the results and relationships she's seen come out of it. Here's a little description from Ms. Wiseman's website:

The Owning Up™ program is based on the premise that social cruelty, degradation,and violence can be deconstructed and understood by examining how our culture teaches boys to be men and girls to be women. Further, the curriculum teaches
children the skills to speak out against injustice and recognize that they have
a responsibility to treat themselves and others with dignity.

I'm sharing this with a mostly church-y readership because there are so many houses of worship that talk about youth ministry as something we do to kids, rather than for kids (and certainly not by kids). Kids don't have it easy. Being a teenager is actually pretty hard. Wouldn't it be great if we respected that, and helped provide some support? I'm the last person to suggest coddling anyone, but I'd love to teach kids how to empower themselves and others. And frankly, I don't think it's a big leap from there, to teaching them about how God empowers all of us.

Glory to God whose power, working in us, can do infinitely more than we can ask or imagine: Glory to God from generation to generation in the church, and in Christ Jesus forever and ever. Amen.


PSA Week: Bread for the World

While I've got your attention, I figured we'd keep up the theme of "good stuff people are doing out there."

One of my very favorite girlfriends has recently taken a job with Bread for the World (you'll see in the sidebar I've added a link to their main page, and also one to their blog).

I wasn't really sure what they did until I went to see her in Dayton a few weeks ago. (In all fairness, I may still not be totally sure what they do.) Just as a start, I think I can boil it down to this:

In many of our churches, we offer winter homeless shelters, we volunteer to serve meals at shelters, we donate canned goods to local food banks. Those are all important things to do, they have to be done, but they're band-aids on the bigger problem of poverty and hunger. Getting rid of hunger requires systemic change. That's where Bread comes in. Through advocacy, education, and direct lobbying of government officials, we can make policy changes. (This is, after all, a government for the people, by the people, and of the people.) Oh, and Bread for the World is completely non-partisan.

If you might be interested in contacting someone to speak with your congregation, or would just like more information than I can give you, here's a list of representatives.

PS- The esteemed Sarah Rohrer, MDiv, tells me that I only forgot one thing: their current election work to go out and ask questions at town hall meetings on behalf of poor and hungry people to get that on candidates' radars. Important stuff, too.


PSA Week: Village Health Works

I got a message via Facebook last week that a good friend from college will be in Burundi for several weeks, offering medical care to a country that is regularly listed as one of the ten poorest in the world.

Take a minute to check out what Andrew is doing. A few prayers might be in order, too.

PS- I just did a little fishing around, and discovered that those who are interested may support Village Health Works financially. Information about donations can be found here.


Inquiring Minds Are Rewarded for Their Patience

I am pleased to tell you that Wednesday was a very good day. The weather was beautiful, and I had about ten minutes to sit with God by the river before I went in to speak with the bishop. We met for about an hour, and traffic home was light enough that I was able to debrief with Mr. M for about an hour before heading off to see my spiritual director. She and I had a really wonderful session that was supportive and insightful and fantastic.

I felt very calm and centered all day. A chaplain once asked my mother if she would be more willing to listen to her gut feelings if she thought they might be the nudge of the Holy Spirit. With that in mind, I was able to listen to my gut all day, and felt an enormous amount of peace. I felt like I processed with integrity after the meeting, rather than processing with self-doubt. The three words that a wonderful friend shared with me when I told him about it were "Integrity, Liberation, and Regeneration."

God was with me all day, and I was able to be aware of it, and find joy in it. I'll write about what I think might come next later, but for now, all is well.


Our Fair Readers Consider the Curious Lack of a Soundtrack

And this author provides it for them.

I've been listening to this a lot this week. I had a really good day yesterday.


And now, for a commercial break

It may be a week. I have an appointment with my bishop tomorrow, and my mom flies in on Thursday.

I'm much more comfortable with myself and my call than I was the last time I met with anyone official, but I'm still feeling a bit scared of The Process. He and I will be meeting one-on-one, which has never happened (usually one's rector is present, or in the other instance, the large Commission on Ministry). Please hold me in your prayers. Mostly, I just want to feel held close to God in this-- the rest isn't particularly important. I know myself well enough to know that perspective and trust can be hard with people who outrank me. Hard to trust myself, hard to remember that God is bigger than The System. (My bishop seems to be a very good person, I just don't know him at all well. I don't always feel clearly heard, and The Process has been a bit rough at times.) I feel like I'm headed to Oz.

And the last several visits with my mom have not gone at all smoothly, so please keep me in your prayers there, too. She'll fly in Thursday, and head back on Sunday.

Thanks, guys.

Update-- Last night, as I was falling asleep, I heard that funny, cliched question all Spiritual Directors ask: Where is God in this? I thought about it for a while, and came to the conclusion that not only was I going to be OK, but that all is well.


In Which Mrs. M Succumbs to the Natives

I have lived in this very Amish county for 6 years now (wow-- how did that happen?! By far the longest I've lived anywhere...), but I've been very unsure about some of the local food. Potpie with no crust, shoofly pie (both the "wet" and "dry" varieties), and a bizarre compulsion to season only with salt and ketchup have all left me a little reluctant. Which is why I had never tasted a whoopie pie. (Also, I don't have much of a sweet tooth, and am by nature a pretty healthy eater.)

So this morning, when a coworker's birthday treat was Pumpkin Whoopie Pies with Cream Cheese Frosting, I was uncertain. I thought I'd try it, because I believe in trying things before deciding on them. But I was bracing myself. The middle is gooey! They look like something Hostess would sell!

But they are magnificent. A little zing in the cinnamon. That wonderful trace of tartness in the cream cheese frosting. This is some tasty stuff, people.

But I draw the line at scrapple.


Friday Five: Lockdown!

Lately, it feels like the Friday Five have been written just for me, so that I can go around and see things I need. This week is no different.

Songbird has this offering:

For some reason, Blogger declared this blog possible SPAM and locked us down yesterday. This morning, we're free to post again, but there was a fair amount of excitement last night among our contributors, who found a dire notice on their Blogger dashboards threatening that this blog might be deleted in 20 days!We requested a blog review, and I posted a request at the Blogger Help group, where I found we were not alone. Many other perfectly nourishing and cromulent blogs got the same notice last night.This turned out to be a very small barricade in our blogging community life, but it seemed appropriate to explore locks and blocks and other barriers this week. Also, I liked the picture of the security team above! Could they be Blogger's Spam Prevention Robots, working overtime?In honor of their efforts, I bring you the "Lock Me Out, Lock Me In" Friday Five.

1) How do you amuse yourself when road construction blocks your travel?
Mostly, I channel-surf on the radio. I think this makes my hubby nuts, but he's pretty laid back about it. If I can sing with the radio, all kinds of stress goes away.

2) Have you ever locked yourself out of your house? (And do you keep an extra key somewhere, just in case?)
By which I mean, yes. Once, when Mr. M and I were dating, we got snowed in at his apartment. We realized we couldn't drive anywhere, so we walked to a video store before too much snow fell. UNFORTUNATELY, there was a hole in his pocket. His keys were lost in the snow. We drove veeeeeeery slowly and veeeeeeeeeery carefully to his friend's house, hoping he still had a key from the last time he cat-sat. No dice. So we drove veeeeeeeeery carefully and veeeeeeeeery slowly back home, where we had to break a window.
Now, of course, it's a funny story.

3) Have you ever cleared a hurdle? (And if you haven't flown over a material hurdle, feel free to take this one metaphorically.)
You know what? There was a big one that I thought I'd cleared, but I feel like maybe my toe caught and I haven't made it quite over yet. Graduating college was tricky for me (my hurdle), and since the University holds one of my loans, I can't have my transcripts until it's paid off. (This may explain the recurring anxiety dream where I'm back in college, and all of a sudden there's a class I didn't realize I had to go to...) It's making seminary feel like a huge hurdle, and I'm finally starting to try to bring it to God.

4) What's your approach to a mental block?
Baby steps, I think. The first step on something I don't want to do (or am afraid of) is always hardest. If I can get someone to hold my hand (and hold me in prayer), that's even better.

5) Suggest a caption for the picture above; there will be a prize for the funniest answer!
*sigh* I don't have any funny today. Sorry, guys. I'll look forward to reading other funny, tho!


Some Thoughts on Play, and Dancing

A number of people I can think of (including Rev.Dr.Kate) have been thinking about play lately.

I've been thinking about dancing with Brendan Fraser. No, it's not something I expect to see happen anytime soon, but it does make me think about the connections between playfulness, confidence, grace, and peace.

Mr. M and I watched School Ties a couple of weeks ago, because I decided to add all Brendan Fraser movies to the top of our Netflix queue. It's a really mediocre movie at best. Good cast, decent idea for the plot, painfully flimsy writing. But, it turns out, Mr. Fraser is quite a good dancer! (There's only a little dancing, but if you have a crush, a little is all you need!) And then last night, when someone was talking to me about their later-in-life-than-usual need to learn to play, I thought about dancing. You simply cannot do it if you're worried, or self-conscious, or scared, or not having a good time. Even bad dancers are fun to watch when they're having fun. You have to know how to play to be able to dance, then, yes?

I think there are life lessons in this, so I'm going to mull it over for a little while, but I wanted to throw the beginnings of my thoughts out there to you all.

The Lemons Get Tipsy

A dear friend was comparing people in our group to whiskey drinks a few months back, and mine was whiskey and lemonade. I tend to be a wine or beer kinda girl, so I've been curious. Last night, Mr. M and I took the plunge, using this recipe. Oh-- I should point out that I used seltzer instead of Sprite/7Up, because I'm not wild about very-sweet things.

It's really, really tasty! Mind you, Sandra Lee hasn't made anything yet that I've disliked, so I'm sure that factored in. (We make her Peach and Apricot Hard Cider for our annual Cookie Day.)

So, sip slowly and enjoy!

In which Mrs. M is disappointed.

Well, I've done an internet search, and I can't find Beattitude yard signs.

It's probably for the best, but I'm still going to keep my eyes peeled.


And another...

Here's the monkey that Mr. M made for my friend Sarah:

Mostly for Sarah

Mr. M and I went for a run this evening, after my fantabulous bud Sarah and I chatted about what a pain in the rear it can be to get started back after a break. To make the whole thing more fun, we agreed to take pictures on our outings. Here are a few of mine.

We always start by stretching, usually against a UPS drop-box:

We saw a cat down an alley:

You can't see it (any better than you can see the cat, really) but there's a goose and gosling waddling into the tall grasses.

The town college:
The little gazebo next to the college:

This was four guys holding a mattress on top of their car. Dangerous, maybe, but funny too:

I call these dragon-tooth walls:
These darn "10 Commandments" signs irritate the heck out of me. I'd love to go for a run in the dead of night, and replace them all with Beattitudes signs.

I tend to look like a tomato with hair after a run:

We see this on our cool-down walk home. Mr. M and I think this sign is rather... callipygian. Why doesn't the design firm notice?

And apparently, Mr. M just couldn't resist this:


Perfect Timing Friday Five!!!!

I could just kiss Singing Owl for giving this timely Friday Five!:

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

We've been out of town A LOT this summer, and we've got at least two more trips planned. Here are my Five Things:

  1. A couple of books. I don't care where we're going, I'm going to have down time at some point. On vacation, I got to start The Idiot, and a fantabulous little book called To Begin The World Anew, about the American experiment of democracy.
  2. My journal and a bible. Always, always, always. Because inevitably, I'm going to want a chance to process.
  3. Extra underpants. Even if I'm just going somewhere overnight, I'll pack at least 3 extra pair of undies. In fact, I keep about 3 extra pairs of undies and socks in my gym bag. I cannot explain this to you, but I think I learned it from my mom.
  4. Snacks. Usually a peanut butter power bar, because I get really cranky if I have to go too long without meals. This way, I can take care of it, and not bother other people.
  5. This summer, I haven't gone anywhere without a hat. There's just too much skin cancer in my family.

BONUS QUESTION, PLEASE: I'm taking a road trip to Dayton next week, and I'm trying to bring fun music with me. I'd love to have suggestions in the comments. Oh, and to give you a start, so far I have:

  • Bruce Springsteen
  • Georgia Satellites
  • Matchbox 20
  • Indigo Girls
  • B-52s
  • Neil Diamond (who doesn't love Sweet Caroline?)
  • Melissa Etheridge
  • Dolly Parton
  • Dave Matthews

I'll take anything spunky, but you get extra points if it's fun for a tenor to sing along with!



Mr. M's been crafty lately, too. When I found this great book
at Barnes and Noble, he was just on the other side of the shelf, browsing for himself.

And when he stumbled across this gem, I had a feeling our library was about to expand.

So, Mr. M has begun his great sewing adventures. Our first new friend is Sniffles the Elephant. He seemed to be really easy to make (I don't know for sure, I didn't help). But Mr. M has never sewn more than a button, and finished in 3 evenings. Here's how it all came together:


Hot Tips

A really, really darling friend of mine became a dad on Friday (9 days early). I've been working on a baby blanket for the little one, but as you may have picked up, I'm much better at starting projects than finishing them. BUT I'm wild about this friend, and come heck or high water, the darn blanket is getting done.

SO, here are the things that are working today:

  1. If I pack enough paraphernalia into a canvas sack, and hole up in an unused meeting room during my lunch hour, I can get much more done than I do at home. At home, I have the attention span of a gypsy moth. Hot tip #1: Craftiness over my lunch hour is great, because it's a mental break from work without leaving the building, and I get WAY more done.
  2. I used a silver marking pencil to plan out where I was going to embroider flowers on the gingham side of my blanket. I got about a quarter of the way through this when I realized it would be just as effective, and much smarter, to mark the back of the cloth. And then I realized how hard it is to use a fabric eraser on flannel. Hot tip #2: If I blog the pencil with clear packing tape, the marks come right up, and they don't screw with the nap of the fabric!

Progress has been made! If I can just reconcile myself to the fact that it isn't going to be perfect, and that it's good to do it anyway, we'll be all set.


Friday Five: Name Game

RevHRod leads the Friday Five this week:

If you are a regular reader of Songbird's blog, you know that "The Princess" has requested a new name. Her older brother changed his "secret identity" a while back and now this lovely young lady is searching for a new name on her mother's blog. This got me to thinking. How do we come up with all of these names? There must be at least a few good stories out there.

1. So how did you come up with your blogging name? And/or the name of your blog?
My blog name comes from goes way back. When I was little, my tiny family (Mama Marine and I) moved around A LOT, and the "family" I developed weren't related to me, they were the loving, hospitable people that we found at different bases all over the world. I loved full, boisterious houses, and wanted to have one of my own one day. My theory was that I would always leave the kitchen door unlocked, and our friends could come by whenever they needed or wanted to-- the door would always be open. Later, I realized that vision of hospitality was also one I had for the church.

2. Are there any code names or secret identities in your blog? Any stories there?
Not really. I finally un-anonymoused myself this year, but I'm still fairly careful with other people. (Though obviously if you know me IRL, you know who Mr. M is!)

3. What are some blog titles that you just love? For their cleverness, drama, or sheer, crazy fun?
I really appreciate the title of Growing Where I'm Planted.

4. What three blogs are you devoted to? Other than the RevGalBlogPals of course!
I read dooce all the time, and I also read my friend Chaplain Danny's.

5. Who introduced you to the world of blogging and why?
I'm so embarassed-- I can't remember how I started!!!

Bonus question: Have you ever met any of your blogging friends? Where are some of the places you've met these fun folks?
I have, I have!! I've gotten to hang out with both ladyburg and charlotte, and they're both really wonderful. (Thank heavens this question wasn't, "Who would you like to meet?" because I would have gone on and on...)


Kyrie Eleison

Just a reminder to please hold all Anglican bishops in your prayers today, as Lambeth begins.

Oh-- and go read this. I'm so proud of ++Katharine.

A Wise Man Once Said

Mr. M and I were driving home very late a couple of weeks ago, passing corn fields along the way. I was watching the fireflies dancing in the tall stalks when he asked me what I was thinking.

"I was thinking about how great it would be to be a firefly."


Didn't say anything else. The next day I said to him, "You know, if I were a firefly, my butt wouldn't light up. Girl fireflies don't glow." He told me he thought about that at the time, but didn't want to burst my bubble.

This, ladies, is the mark of a very good husband.

And now, when I'm happy (or when he wants to distract me), he tells me my butt's lighting up.

Godzilla of Gross

I have a huge pimple in the middle of my back, exactly where my bra strap is. I think it's planning to take over Tokoyo.

That's all the news I've got. I now return you to your regularly scheduled programming.


Crafty Silly Secrets

OK, I have a silly secret plan, but I need your help. I'm driving out to see one of my very favorite girlfriends in Dayton in a few weeks, and I need to bring some whimsy with me.

I need suggestions on ways to decorate t-shirts. That's not exactly what we'll be decorating, but it'll get me close enough. I want to bring a silly kit with me (and probably a couple of bottles of red wine).

Help me out, friends!

Simmering Down

The last week or so I've been a real crankypants. Ergo, I'm going to take a page out of Mary Beth's book (funny phrase for a couple of bibliophiles) and try to focus on gratitude instead of nuttiness. Here's what I can be grateful for today:

  • Mom's sounded fairly "up" lately.
  • Mr. M is a really good guy.
  • Flannel bottom sheets (a flannel top sheet would be too heavy). I don't know why, but I sleep like a rock on flannel.
  • Lots of rainstorms-- I love the sound of water.
  • Dinner this coming weekend with an "adopted" brother, and his very pregnant wife-- in Bethesda!
  • A half day on Friday.
  • Lots of snuggling with an orange cat this week
  • A lot of really kind coworkers.
  • Yoga tonight (and Mr. M is going to try it!).
  • Very good health.

There's a lot on that list, and it didn't take long to get that far. Something to think about...


Chasing Skirt

I admit it: I like paraphernalia more than I like hobbies. I like accoutrements more than activities.

So, I'm a sporadic knitter, embroiderer, quilter, runner, baker, dancer, yoga practioner, rosary pray-er, guitar player.

But The Stuff is always so nifty. *sigh*

So when my July edition of Runner's World came in the mail, and there were a variety of articles on running skirts, I knew I was being led into temptation. I'd been running really consistantly Dec-April, but then... nothing. I can blame it on a cranky illiotibial band (and that's part of it), but mostly I just got distracted.

SO, I came up with a plan: I can buy a skirt after I've run as many miles as the skirt costs dollars. Once I get into the habit, I'm much more likely to stay on the wagon.

I shared my plan with Mr. M, and he likes it so much he's adapted it for himself. He would really like to buy himself a Wii, but also wants to make sure that he stays active. Because he's a creative guy, he's added a caveat: only outdoor miles build the Wii fund. Treadmill miles don't count, because he wants to counteract the indoor-ness of video games. He figures it'll last long after he gets the Wii, because then he'll want games, and accessories.

I'm kind of excited. It's nice to have incentive, and it's nice to have a partner in crime.

Oh, and you know what else would be nice? If this race series planned a race closer to me.

Fantastic Find

I was listening to NPR this weekend, and stumbled across one of those delightful gems that make me a coffee-mug carrying public radio station member.

Do you all know about Ben Sollee? His music is fantastic. I love cello, I love folk music, I love singer-songwriters, and I love tall, lanky men with senses of humor.

I'm tell you, he's worth looking at into.


Thick as Two Short Planks

I'm reading Robert Prichard's History of the Episcopal Church. (No, it's not assigned reading, yes, I am a very huge dork.) I'm mostly reading it because I want to know how we've gotten to where we are today. Are the things that make me nutty longstanding and systemic, or are they particular to my experience?

As I started reading it thought, I bonked my head onto my desk in embarrassment: America was colonized at the same time as the English Reformation. There was no established Church of England at the time of Virginia's birth! Of course! I knew the dates for both of those things, but somehow never put them together.

This means to me that of course the structure and personality of the two institutions don't mirror each other precisesly. We aren't the inheritors of a longstanding tradition. Both sides of the Atlantic were working the kinks out at the same time, in their own unique ways.

Very exciting discovery. Even if people with half a brain would have put it together ages ago.



Another of my beloved chosen-family members was Miss Margaret. She picked up where Miss Lynn left off, and though they were very different women, they both looked after me with kindness and faithfulness.

Both women were gardeners. I remember Miss Lynn's "stinky old marigolds," and Miss Margaret's baby tears and geraniums.

I've just come across The Geranium Farm, which feels as homey as Miss Margaret's kitchen. Rev. Barbara Cawthorne Crafton creates warm, down-to-earth meditations here. She reminds me a little of Philip Gulley, particularly in the way they're both able to find big truths in the small, everyday details around them.

In Due Time

I have a very dear family friends from Memphis (Miss Lynn and Mr. Dail) who are really more like family than anything else. She babysat me for about 4 years when I was little, and when my mom was deployed for the first Gulf war, I lived with them. Their theology is a bit different from mine (they've been conservative Church of Christers forever-- not United Church of Christ, mind), but they were the first people I knew who really loved God.

As long as I can remember, Mr. Dail has had one thing to say about my impatience: "In due time, Diana Mary, in due time." I've been saying it to other people for a while (sometimes as an inside joke that only I'm in on), but lately I've been resting in its wisdom. As people around me are sharing their stories (both friends online and IRL), I'm remembering that things do happen "in due time," which is often not my time.

For me there's a connection between waiting for God's time and understanding that I don't control the universe. In my own life, when incredible things have come together, it's not been because of my iron will (though there have been times that tenacity played a part). I have seen that when the time is right, things fall into place. I don't mean to oversimplify, or imply that there's not sometimes pain in waiting. I have no idea why some prayers aren't answered. I cannot even begin to understand how God works. But when I wait for God, solutions often come about that I could not possibly have orchestrated.

And so my friends, I'm embracing Mr. Dail's wisdom. "In due time, Diana Mary, in due time."


Friday Five: Summer Reading

Songbird brings us this wonderful bookish Friday Five:
Back in the day, before I went to seminary, I worked in the Children's Room at the Public Library, and every year we geared up for Summer Reading. Children would come in and record the books read over the summer, and the season included numerous special and celebratory events. As a lifelong book lover and enthusiastic summer reader, I find I still accumulate a pile of books for the summer.This week, then, a Summer Reading Friday Five.

1) Do you think of summer as a particularly good season for reading? Why or why not?
This is the first year in... well, I can't remember when... that my summer has actually been a relatively slow season. I think this summer will be delightful for reading.

2) Have you ever fallen asleep reading on the beach?
Not at the beach, no. But in my house, saying I'm going to go upstairs to read in the afternoon is code for napping.

3) Can you recall a favorite childhood book read in the summertime?
I loved Elizabeth Enright's stories about the Melendy family-- especially "Spiderweb for Two."

4) Do you have a favorite genre for light or relaxing reading?
I realized on vacation that summer is my best time for good literature. I read a lot all year long, but when I'm busy it's either work/class related, or really light and fluffy. When I have a little more time (and more attention to spare) I love the Good Books.

But I'm wild about Jennifer Crusie's novels the rest of the year!

5) What is the next book on your reading list?
I'm in the middle of Dostoevsky's The Idiot, and also Rolheiser's The Shattered Lantern. The latter is INCREDIBLE, and is going to go high on my list of recommended reading. Seriously, go check it out.