Stratoz's Interview, Part IV:

(Previous installments can be found here, here , and here).

Do You Blog? Are you on facebook or twitter? How do you feel about social networking and church growth?

I do! Right here, in fact. I've blogged since 2005 (THAT'S crazy to think about).

I'm on facebook, not on twitter. Facebook has been a great way to keep in touch with people I enjoy. So many of my loved ones are scattered that it's really a joy to have a glimpse into their daily lives, to chat about the little things that come up. (Twitter is somehow not as appealing.)

I'm not sure about social networking and church growth, but I do think social networking makes sense as a part of church life. (I get so nervous about what we mean when we say "church growth." I worry that it means numbers and membership roles, rather than deepening our relationships with God and one another.) Social networking is how many of us communicate-- it seems foolish for the church to not be present there.


Stratoz's Interview, Part III: Bumper Stickers

(Previous installments can be found here and here).

What is written on the bumper stickers that you have placed on your cars?

I'm very, very cautious about bumper stickers. During the primaries and the general election of '08, I affixed my Obama bumper sticker to a magnet so that it wouldn't be stuck to my trunk for all of time and eternity.

I also have a very small Denison University static decal in my rear window. I'm crazy about my alma mater.

And that's it for bumper stickers. The only other stuff on my car is a lot of dirt!



During the semester of college that I lived at home, my mom and I had a very fun ongoing ice cream deal. Each week that OSU played, I'd buy us ice cream if they won (in celebration), and she'd buy the ice cream if they lost (in consolation). It's a fantastic memory that I have of her.

Dave and I watch one (and only one) football game every year. Actually, it's the only sporting event we watch.

It's not a bowl game.

It's not a playoff game.

It's the OSU/Michigan game.

And it's this afternoon.



Stratoz's Interview, Part II: Radio

My first response to Stratoz's great (and not intended for me!) interview questions is here.

What radio station do you listen to and why?
I listen to WITF (our local NPR station). I particularly love Nina Totenberg's reporting on the Supreme Court, and Kai Ryssdal's Marketplace. I love the full background of a story that I get with NPR's news. NPR's stories are like word problems to me: every single time, I could get the answer to a math question right if it was a word problem. It made sense. I understood what was going on, and what the objective was. Plain old equations, though, with no context-- hopeless. I like putting things in context.

I also listen to WXPN, the NPR station out of Philly (also broadcast here). They play a lot of indie rock, which I love, but which I am not cool enough to find on my own.

When I'm not listening to one of those, I channel surf a lot, stopping on whatever station happens to be playing classic rock that I can belt out.

Wednesday/Thanksgiving Prayers: It's a blessing. And a curse.

For a while, Dave and I watched Monk a lot. It was light and fluffy, but the characters were charming. I mention this because the lead character often said (about all manner of things, but especially about his OCD), "It's a blessing. And a curse."

This seems particularly relevant to me as I begin to pray Thanksgiving prayers. It's an awkward time of year to have a difficult family situation. I sometimes feel embarrassed, a little ashamed, when people talk about their holiday plans, and then ask what we'll be doing. I love our quiet observances, just the two of us. I love them because they're a safe haven, and our extended families aren't consistently safe or nurturing. I wish very much that they were, and it's not just the holidays that are sad. (The myth seems to be that you either love or hate your family. The truth for me is that I adore my family, which makes it a hell of a lot harder to keep a safe distance.)

The curse.

But here's the other side of it: this week, a woman I know asked for prayer-- and she knew it was okay to come to me, because I had talked to her about my own family. She knew I would have compassion (not to mention bountiful prayers to lift on her behalf).

The blessing.

If my struggles mean that I can love someone better, that I can listen to someone with my whole heart, then the blessing is bigger than the curse.

There are many things I'm grateful for (a safe home, a kind husband, good food, good friends), but that blessing is my best prayer of thanksgiving this year.

What's yours?


Stratoz's Interview, Part I: Books

Stratoz posted such great questions for his parish's candidates that I'm going to take a page out of Robin's book and answer them, too. (One at a time, friends. Because I'm not a terribly ambitious blogger. Or, because I want you to have a chance to digest all my wisdom. *snort*)

Please tell me about the last five books you read.

  1. Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery: I re-read this recently, and was just as charmed by it as I had been as a kid. I especially noticed this time how often Anne finds "kindred spirits" in unexpected people. It's a beautiful book, and Anne's willingness to use her imagination inspired me.
  2. The Web Designer's Idea Book by Patrick McNeil: I'm putting together a website for my fledgling spiritual direction practice, and this book has been a helpful tool for creating a mental picture of what I want. (The challenge will be making that actually happen.)
  3. barefoot contessa how easy is that? by Ina Garten: I understand that there are people who don't adore Ina Garten, but it doesn't make sense to me. This woman uses butter, cheese, and salt like aliens are going to obliterate the planet tomorrow, and there's no need to age gracefully. I love to eat, and this is some amazing food.
  4. The Practice of Spiritual Direction by Barry & Connolly: I'm going through my old material again (slowly), reminding myself of what I know to be true, and picking up some of what I missed on the first pass. This is a wonderful practical guide.
  5. Talking with Children about Loss by Maria Trozzi with Kathy Massimini: A friend lent this to me after this summer's grief class. I've been reading it in the midst of other things (clearly), so it's slow going, but it's a good book. Trozzi raises some important points about children processing differently than adults. She also spends a good amount of time on non-bereavement loss, which strikes me as important-- I think we often minimize children's feelings.

Those are my books! There have been others-- mainly Victoria Thompson's gaslight mysteries-- but those are the ones I'm still reading or thinking about.


November Mix Tape: Rainy Day Cafe

Back in October, I spent a weekend in New York, catching up with friends and generally making quiet mischief.

The first friend I hung out with was a really fun woman whom I hadn't seen since high school. I happened to mention that she used to make the World's Best Mix Tapes, and she shared something extraordinary: she's part of a Mix Tape Club! Seriously. How fun is that?!?!

When we parted, she offered to send me a mix tape, made just for me, but then a couple of weeks later, she made an even better offer: our own little mail mix-tape club.


So, this month is my first stab at it. Autumn always makes me a little maudlin (but in a lovely way), so I went with that general feeling. The compilation is called "Rainy Day Cafe." (I love those quiet gray afternoons in coffeehouses while listening to yearning music, reading, journaling, letter-writing.)

My cover art:

And my playlist (erm... which I see I sort of cut off in the picture-- WHOOPS!):

Both typed with the help of my ancient Remington Rand Deluxe #5 typewriter. That's what you need when you finish with Nat King Cole.

It really is a lovely, lovely list of songs, so feel free to replicate at home! And feel free to steal the idea-- this was the most fun I've had in ages.


Yellow Patchwork Quilt

I made a little quilt, y'all!

I've made them before, but this is the first one I've both pieced and quilted. (On others, I've either quilted one big piece of fabric, or I've pieced rag quilts-- which don't get quilted.)

So, hurrah! I just loved this one. It went to a sweet newborn whose parents I adore-- and I assure you, those are the only circumstances under which I would have been willing to let go of it. It turned out so much cuter than I expected (although I'm still swearing that the binding-- satin blanket binding is surely evil in solid form).I tried to show you the whole thing:

but frankly, I'm not so good with the self-timer and the scurrying into place, so I tried again (overexposed, and then badly corrected...sigh):

Still not great. So, in parts, we have the front:

I love how crinkly quilts get when you use cotton batting-- it shrinks a little in the dryer, and the quilted lines really stand out.

And then the fun scrappy back--I scattered tiny squares like confetti. I added a few Heather Ross chickens that weren't on the front, and they made me grin every time I looked at them:

I had a grand time doing it-- it's machine-pieced, but hand-quilted (which seems to be my favorite way of doing things).

So, that's that! Have a lovely cheerful yellow day!


Wednesday Prayers: A Peaceful Night, and a Perfect End

I've been using Phyllis Tickle's version of the Daily Offices for the last few weeks (or, I should say, I've resumed the habit). Compline might be my favorite office. I love that there's confession before slumber-- it relieves me of all the dumbshit things I've done during the day (that I'd otherwise fret about once the lights go out).

I suppose this points to a specific prayer request of you this week: wiser decisions during the day (and less guilt about old stuff).

Can I pray for you this week? Is there anything that will help you rest easier?



I can't get this song out of my head today. Figured I might as well get it stuck in yours, too.


Wednesday Prayers: Don't Watch the Film

I love Inside the Actor's Studio. I love it even when I don't care for an actor's body of work. It's about hearing people's stories.

When Johnny Depp was interviewed, he said that he doesn't watch the films he's in. More specifically, he said that after he's wrapped, "it's none of my business what the filmmaker does with it."

As a spiritual director, I have to really work at remembering that the big picture is not up to me. In fact, it's none of my business. One of the best sessions I ever took part in was while I was training-- my directee used a metaphor to talk about her situation the whole time we were talking. I never knew what her specific struggle was, and I didn't need to. I'm there to ask questions, God's there to lead her deeper into them. What follows isn't any of my business.

Maybe that's true for everything. We do our part, we respond to God's call, and then we forget about the completed film. If we're honest with ourselves, we know we're never going to know the whole story, anyway; we will do good in ways we will never realize, and we'll hurt unknowingly.

So my prayer this week is to be attentive to my role, and let go of the finished picture. What's your prayer this week?


Wednesday Prayers: And for any others you wish to name, either silently or aloud...

This corkboard above the desk in my office is where I keep prayer requests. (Some of you would see your names, or those of your loved ones, typed on tiny pastel squares.) It's just first names, and it's often vague for anonymity's sake. (Confession: there's a little square that just says "Peter in TX." I'm not sure who Peter is, and I only have a hunch about who the prayer-requester might be, but I'm still praying for him.)

I really like having a visual reminder of all the things for which we turn to God. (Perhaps someday I'll remember, "Hey, it's on the board. That means God is carrying it, not me!)

You've all been so lovely and kind this week, I'd like to just turn the prayer requests over to you. Is there something of yours I can add to my board?