Friday, December 16, 2011

Needs vs. Wants

I've been thinking a lot about needs versus wants lately. Somehow in December, along with a whole host of other folks, I am more likely to give in to wants than in the first 11 months of the year.
My inlaws arrive tomorrow for a two week visit. We are excited that they'll be here for Christmas, but at the same time I've felt a bit of added pressure (self-induced) to make sure there are a "sufficient" number of presents under the tree. Whatever "sufficient" means in this context. They've told us point blank they don't need or want much. That doesn't make things any easier, really.
My friend Carrie has been doing a Christmas countdown video series. I'm finally catching up, and her post from Monday is resonating with me. Go check it out.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Missing a Few

Well, a month of daily, consecutive blog posts has eluded me once again. There you go.
Once I missed the first post, suddenly it wasn't so urgent to write every day. Of course, last week we were at my parents' house two states away, and a daily post meant staying up later than was helpful each night (I took along a novel that never even made it out of my bag!).
Our annual Thanksgiving vacation was good: spending time with family and friends and hitting a few favorite haunts always feels just right. I could have tacked a few extra days onto our vacation with great gladness, but it also feels really good to be home. What is it about sleeping in your own bed - even if no one in the house sleeps very well, as last night - that feels so good?
We arrived home late-evening yesterday, and hit the ground running. G got the car unloaded (we came home with WAY more stuff than we headed west with, after more shopping than we should have done...) and I got the first load of laundry into the washing machine. This morning we all overslept after our night of horrible sleep, and I got to the office about 10am, was home for 45minutes of lunch, and didn't get home again until close to 8pm. G got to church for the first Advent midweek soup supper (he even made soup this afternoon!) and then led Evening Prayer and got home just as I was putting the Munchkin to bed.
 Of course we didn't manage to get the house very clean or tidy before we hit the road 10 days ago, so there's still plenty of work left to do around here. My hope is to get all the autumn decorations put away and the first Advent decorations up before the end of the week. We'll see... If the tidying and cleaning get done, and I can get the advent wreath out and the mantel "done" I'll feel pretty good...

What's the state of Advent/Christmas decorating at your house? How ambitious are you this year?

Oh, and before I forget: as promised, Santa Picture #39
My sister's family and my family. The tradition lives!
Too bad the little ones weren't happy about it!

Friday, November 25, 2011

#39

Santa Picture #39: check.
I'll post it as soon as I get the email with the jpeg attached...

Thursday, November 24, 2011

So Much

There is much to be thankful for.
Today I am especially thankful for my husband, whose birthday is today. And I'm thankful we were able to get him a couple of gifts that were "just right."
I am thankful for my family, and that we get to be together from time to time.
I am thankful that the Munchkin has great cousins.
I am thankful that I have no pressing need to stay up late tonight or get up early tomorrow to go shopping for Christmas presents or other deals (though we do plan to hit a shop that's got half-price socks tomorrow morning. G's feet are pretty rough on his socks).
What are you feeling especially thankful for??

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

I'll take mine naked

Here's a great post about wrapping gifts, from Get Rich Slowly. I for one have purchased the last wrapping paper I'm ever going to purchase. And once it's all gone, and there aren't pieces big enough to salvage to do the job, we'll be switching to brown grocery bags, or better yet, the Sunday comics. Of course that may take awhile, since after a wedding 4 1/2 years ago and a baby 13 months ago, we are still swimming in oh-so-reusable gift bags.
If, by chance, you plan to ever send me a gift, please put it in something repurposed, recycled, or at least reusable. Or better yet, give it to me naked. :)

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

New Do

It's amazing to me how much a haircut - even a trim - can improve the way I feel. It's not like I put a whole lot of time and energy into my appearance. It's been months since I've worn more than moisturizer and lip balm on my face. And my hair-product usage is down to the very occasional spritz of hair spray.
But I got my hair cut today, and I am loving it.
It's not really that radical of a change. After donating almost a foot of hair to Locks of Love back in February, I've been trying to grow the mop out to "all-one-length and off the shoulder." I've also been looking for a new stylist... mine moved home to San Diego (boo!). I was hopeful about the last one to whom I entrusted my no-longer-golden mane, but ended up with my least favorite haircut of all time.
But today, with a spur of the minute appointment and an unknown assailant "designer," I'm feeling good. So - perhaps there's hope!?!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Sounds Good

Some favorite sounds this week:
Snoring dog, snoring (well, sleep-breathing) toddler, snoring husband.
The little beeps the coffee pot makes when the brewing is over and it's time for the drinking to begin.
The Munchkin trying out new consonant-vowel combinations.
Wind in the last few leaves on the aspen trees.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Counting Down the Days til Advent

Advent begins a week from today. And while I know the season of Advent is intended to help us prepare not only to celebrate the coming of Christ the first time around during the 12 days of Christmas, but also to prepare for his coming again, I always end up feeling like I need time to prepare to prepare. I need more time to get ready for Advent than I'm going to get, once again.
I need time to clear some spaces out around the house, to make room for making a welcome, to unclutter so that there's room enough in space and time to wait and watch and be ready.
I'll keep you posted on how it goes...

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Thanks 4 Giving

This morning G came home a bit early from the weekly men's breakfast and Bible study he participates in. I wanted to get out the door to try to get into town and parked by 9am. Today was the first day of a new Bozeman tradition: the Thanks 4 Giving Clothing Give Away.
I heard about it last year, but with a newborn I didn't make it out the door to check it out. It's a great event. People donate clothes, from newborn to adult xl, and then they all get sorted and piled high on tables and racks in an old school gym. Then the doors are flung open and anybody who wants to can go and take whatever they want. For free. Anybody. It was a little bit of a zoo, but I'm glad I went.
Unlike many of the others (mostly women) waiting in the line in single digit-teen temperatures, I didn't have a bag in hand. The list of items I was hoping to find included a couple of long-sleeved onesies or shirts for the Munchkin to wear now- somehow we didn't have enough long sleeve first layers to get from laundry day to laundry day. Needless to say, we do now.
I came home with a plastic grocery bag stuffed with previously loved clothing, including a pair of pediped shoes and a pair of Stride Rite shoes. And the great thing is, if anything doesn't fit or work for us, I can just donate it back next year and put it back in the mix.
Today I am thankful for living in a generous community. (Remind me later to write about my first 'GGHAC' meeting a week and a half ago...)

Friday, November 18, 2011

Bowling Luck

We had a youth event this evening, of an interesting variety. The congregation's Family & Youth Ministry Team decided to make it a combined middle school and high school event, but didn't realize tonight was also the opening night of the high school's musical, and several of our youth are in it. As a result, we had the youth group equivalent of a bowling split: a handful of 6th graders, a handful of seniors, and a lone 8th grader in between. The bowling was quite fun: 4 youth and 1 adult on each lane, cheering each other on, with some friendly competition. (I bowled surprising well, considering it's been 5+ years since I picked up a bowling ball, I think. In two games I bowled 253!)
After bowling we returned to the congregation's building for some dinner, albeit a late one. The games that followed revealed the age differential and the seniors excused themselves (pesky kids with driver's licenses...) Can't say that I blamed them, really.
Overall, I think a good time was had by all. I'm pooped, but glad I participated. I relish opportunities to hang out with the youth outside of more structured learning times. They're hilarious, and most of them have no idea how great they are.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Mid-month writers' block?

I've got nothing. The to-do list is plenty long: sermon and worship prep, youth event tomorrow evening, loads of housework and holiday prep, gifts to wrap, etc. And it was an interesting enough day: lunch with a parishoner, dinner out with G and the Munchkin (free pizza @ Old Chicago since it's G's birthday month), and we got something close to 5 or 6 inches of snow this afternoon and evening.
But I've got not much to say and am looking forward to an imminent date with my pillow. :)

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

I Know Where She Gets It

Today the Munchkin did a new trick: after emptying the little basket we have our random assortment of coasters in, again, she put. them. back. in. She didn't quite get all of them back in the basket, but I'm not complaining. It's so fun to watch her figure things out, and she was so proud! She held the basket out for me at a full-arm stretch and a goofy grin on her face.
The Munchkin's momma (that would be yours truly) had a bit of an "aha" this evening. I spent about 90 minutes sitting on the floor in our bonus room, sorting through bin after endless plastic bin of photos, rubber stamps, paper ephemera saved (and some even purchased!) for future uber-artsy collage projects. And when I got up, I saw exactly where the Munchkin gets her Entropy-Girl skills. In my experience, such sorting always makes things look worse before they look better, and there was a momma sized empty space surrounded by piles and bins, a recycle bag and a garbage bag. I didn't take a photo- the evidence would be far too embarrassing. But you can get the general idea here:
Increased entropy achieved, the Munchkin moves on to new targets.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Entropy-Girl in Action

The Munchkin (aka Entropy-Girl), Master of Mayhem & Chaos
Here she is, doing what she does best. At least today I finally managed to get that very full basket of laundry into the washing machine!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Ready to go nowhere

Tomorrow is our Sabbath. And I can hardly wait. It's not that we've got a day of amazing restful and renewing things planned; for the most part it will be like any other Monday - a more leisurely breakfast than usual, perhaps a few household chores (I didn't manage to do any laundry today), connecting as a family. I'm especially looking forward to it, though, because we have been on the go a whole lot more than usual over the last few days. G went to our bishop's convocation in a town 3 hours away on Friday, then yesterday I spent 90 minutes each way getting to and from a campus ministry board meeting, and this afternoon G headed out again for an outdoor ministry annual corporation meeting.
I do like being involved, but three big meetings requiring so much time in the car, three days in a row, is enough, thank you. I am no longer accustomed to spending so much time in the car.
I really appreciate our minimal commute of 0.9 miles - after spending hours commuting in Phoenix, this tiny commute is a major uptick in quality of life for me, even if it does mean I miss a lot of the news on NPR (tomorrow morning will likely find me streaming Morning Edition while I make buttermilk pancakes). I'm ready to pretty much go nowhere tomorrow.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

A touch of summer

It seems winter has arrived to stay after all. We had some snow last Saturday, and though we didn't get any more snow until today, the grass stayed white all week. Another couple inches got added today, and I'm thinking we may not see the lawn til next spring. So much for planting the iris rhizomes or the last super-cheap perennials I picked up.
I'm not quite ready for winter. A couple more weeks of autumn would suit me just fine.
It's hard to believe this picture of one of G's sunflowers was taken only two and a half months ago. Ah, summer sunshine...
There are always sunflowers in our garden.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Super Power Revealed

The Munchkin's super power has been revealed in our home: entropy. The girl's got serious skills in chaos-creation (and it's not like G and I are the king and queen of order, tidiness and a-place-for-everything-and-everything-in-its-place). BUT - we do have a handful of containers intended to keep a few things in certain spaces. There's a basket under the end table into which we put the daily paper and junk mail before it all gets schlepped to the garage; there's a big wicker basket for all the kitchen laundry (our laundry room is upstairs, the kitchen is downstairs, and we generate an insane amount of kitchen laundry with cloth napkins, bibs, towels, washcloths, etc.); and we have a small bookcase in the kitchen filled with cookbooks. The Munchkin can systematically, and with great stealth, remove the contents of all of these containers in no time flat.

Entropy-girl. That's my daughter! (pictures forth-coming, I hope).

Thursday, November 10, 2011

All I Want for Christmas

It's wish-list season. My family has a long history of wish-lists, which isn't necessarily a bad thing, as we've also got a long history of buying extremely practical gifts - so practical that sometimes the wisher goes out and gets said item for him- or herself before the gift-giving occasion rolls around. That could happen to me this year: this afternoon the Munchkin and I ventured to the mall to get her mormor (that'd be "mom's mom" in Norwegian) a Christmas present: eye make-up remover from a particular cosmetics counter. I won't be surprised in the least if it turns out that my mom has acquired her own new bottle of this stuff before the calendar hits the 24th of December.
One of the benefits of the wish-list is knowing that family will be spending money on things we actually want/need/will use, and that we'll be giving them gifts they want/need/will use, which certainly beats the alternative. There's not much point in spending money just for the sake of spending money, and I hate the feeling of having NO IDEA what to give someone.
However, this year, when asked what I want for Christmas, the answer is LESS STUFF. I not only don't really want any STUFF, I'd love it if someone would come over and help me (us) let go of some of the stuff that lives in our house already. Of course, given that we live states away from our families, and they really do want to give us something for Christmas (evidently - if any of my relatives are reading this and you don't really feel like getting me something for Christmas, then please donate the money to your food bank or something instead!!!), I also need to have a couple of "real" things on my wishlist. Here they are:
Aveda Hand Relief lotion (I go through one of these a year since SW Montana is a semi-arid climate and my hands do not like winter weather very much).
A new box of chargers for my most excellent whipped cream dispenser (go through about a box of those a year, too).
Origins Ginger hand lotion and hand cleanser (that way there's lotion in the downstairs bathroom too! And, Origins Ginger is my favorite scent - even though other than that I'm mostly moving away from smelly products...).
After that, there are some big-ticket items I'd like for our household to have: a camcorder to capture the Munchkin's hijinks, an external hard drive to back up our photos, etc., a telephoto lens for taking stealth Munchkin pictures. But I don't expect anyone to get any of these things for me. At this point, the exercise of writing a Christmas wish list helps me think about savings goals for the weeks and months ahead. And that's okay.

What do YOU want for Christmas this year (besides world peace, of course)?

PS - This post was inspired by today's testosterhome post. Enjoy!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

One of THOSE days

Some days it is very clear to me how much they DON'T teach you in seminary. Today was one of those days.
No major crises, nothing overly urgent, just an accumulation of issues I haven't had to deal with before and am quite confident are not on any MDiv syllabus (or at least weren't on my syllabi between 1997 and 2001).
Fortunately, I was inspired to call my Dad (of all people!) and he could actually help with one practical congregational detail. Gotta love it when that happens.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Mutual Ministry and Preparing for Advent

We've got a Mutual Ministry Committee, and more often than not, it's a pretty good thing. I've heard the occasional horror story (though it seems most are second or third hand) about such committees that are constitutionally required in many congregations, but which end up having whining/complaining/fix-the-pastor meetings, more than anything else.
I really like all the parishioners on the committee, and value the time we get with them, though sometimes I wish we had an excuse to have the kinds of conversations we do with other small groups in the congregation, too. Tonight I asked them what they need from their community of faith during the seasons of Advent and Christmas. I want to make what we do as a community meaningful and faith-forming, not just one more thing people feel stressed out about when they commit to participating, or feel guilty about when they don't participate. I think sometimes less can be more, but only if we slow down enough to recognize the more - and I want to help people notice what's going on around them, and within them.
What do YOU need during Advent this year? Who could help you find/have it?

Monday, November 7, 2011

It never rains...

It never rains... but it pours - invitations to dinner, in our case.
We've been trying to invite folks from the congregation over for dinner at our house on a fairly regular basis. Not only is it nice to get to know folks in different circumstances, but we also enjoy entertaining and offering hospitality - and knowing we have company coming is one of the best motivators for cleaning I know, which is a serious bonus.
When we first arrived here, we were invited to several members' homes for dinner, which was nice. For the most part, though, it's been a while since anybody has invited us over for dinner. I suppose having the Munchkin is a significant factor in that. However, yesterday after worship G and I each accepted a dinner invitation for the end of the week (on the same night). We decided to keep the invitation that he accepted first, and asked for a raincheck for the second invitation, which was graciously given to us. And then, this afternoon, mid-diaper-change, I answered my phone only to receive ANOTHER invitation for dinner, ON THE SAME NIGHT!
I don't think we're looking underfed (I'm looking extra-pudgily over-fed,  if anything), so I'm not sure how to account for the sudden arrival of so much meal-time hospitality. I'm not going to knock it, though. Let the parties begin!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Economic Thoughts on a Sunday

Today was "Commitment Sunday" for a capital campaign in the congregation we serve. The leadership team set an incredibly hopeful goal back in September: $600,000. The rationale behind this huge (given the smallish size of the congregation) number was that over the three-year duration of the campaign, enough funds would be received to give away 10% to other ministries and organizations, use 10% for ministry enhancing projects in the facility, and use 80% to completely pay off the congregation's mortgage.
After today's service, the initial gathering of commitments totalled less than a third of the goal. There are still opportunities for folks who were not in worship today to make commitments, and there are additional request letters - to friends of the congregation and folks who've moved out of town - yet to be sent.
I think it would be easy for me - and for the congregation - to feel like we have failed somehow (I'd hoped to hit the 1/3 mark today) - but it's not a failure. A group of people have made a commitment, not just with words, but with finances, to continue in mission and ministry together. The leadership team worked hard and well and has renewed a conversation about what faithful stewardship looks like in real, regular lives. A couple of the members of that team have been so inspired and motivated that they want to keep meeting. (!!)
Over the last several weeks, and again this morning, several people mentioned to me that the timing of the campaign feels difficult to them - good jobs remain scarce, the stock market is volatile enough to inspire fear, coming into winter the ancient fear of scarcity rears its head, and the economic anxiety around the world certainly trickles down, even if economic prosperity rarely seems to.
As people of faith, I believe we are called to recognize the abundance that surrounds us, and to live in faith, not fear. Yes, we may not have enough cash for all of the things we WANT, but it seems like a lot of the time getting the things we want doesn't bring real satisfaction or fulfillment anyway. When we live with the community in mind, and are as discerning as possible when it comes to how we spend, I believe there is reason for hope, and fulfillment to be found outside the shopping mall.
One of the things that has made me crazy for a few years now is the constant reference to Americans as "consumers" instead of as citizens. Here's a great artcile from Abundant Community (I came across the website after reading the book by the same name). Hope it inspires some good thinking and conversation at your house!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Not quite treasure

It's snowing. It's been snowing. Since before I got up a little before 7:30 this morning. For the 5th of November - that's a lot of snow. Fortunately, it hasn't piled up too high yet; I'm not quite ready to hear the roar of the snow thrower...
One of the joys of the onset of winter, besides already drying out skin and hair, is the return of outerwear to my regular wardrobe. I can get by with my 18 year old Patagonia fleece for quite a while as the temperatures start to drop, and having grown up in Seattle, I can walk through a lot of rain before I would classify the weather as "wet" instead of "damp."
That said, I do not especially enjoy being cold, and so this evening on my way to worship I pulled my red down vest from the coat closet and put it on for the first time in months. And what to my pocket-seeking hands did appear? But a whole pile of junk that hasn't seen the light of day since the last time I wore the vest, last winter... including: a wad of Kleenex (not used, thank God), a starlight peppermint, a couple of peppermint wrappers, and one of those not-even-bite-sized Three Musketeers nuggets, which at this point could probably break a tooth. Not exactly buried treasure. Not even some spare change!
These spontaneous treasure hunts happen every year, and with just about every coat, jacket or vest I own (which I would have to admit are greater in number than one girl actually NEEDS). You'd think I'd manage to clean out my pockets before relegating the warm stuff to the back of the closet in the spring, but I never know the last time I wear something will be the last time I wear it for the season.
I remember something similar happening when I was growing up. As the oldest of two sisters, I was the one who handed things down, not the handee. The upside: lots of new clothes, including beautiful wool coats thanks to a Grandma who also did not enjoy being cold. The downside: I rarely cleaned out those pockets, either, at the end of winter, and when they became hand-me-downs, the ownership of pocket contents transferred to my younger sister along with the pockets. Maybe that's why I rarely find any money in my own coats winter to winter these days...

Friday, November 4, 2011

For blogging's sake

Yep, I've done it again, as I guess I do have a tendency to be an all-or-nothing kind of blogger.
It's November, which means it's National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). And while I have absolutely no intentions of doing THAT again any time soon, I did sign up for its cousin: NaBloPoMo, National Blog Posting Month. The theme for this month is blogging for blogging's sake. And that's about all this post is going to amount to. We actually watched a movie tonight, and now I'm feeling rather tired. Think I'll head to bed!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

*8 Things: A Gratitude Practice

Join *8Things Rachelle over at Magpie Girl is up to her lists of *8 Things again - and I've been thinking since last week that I might do my own list of *8 Things. But - Thursday has rolled around again, and once again it's time to list a new *8 Things for which I am grateful. Magpie Girl has been struggling with keeping up with housework in the midst of wanting more time for writing and creativity. While housework is always on the to-do list around here, it's not been the huge stressor it can be, at least this week. That said, I'm in the middle of one of my "is this really what I'm supposed to be doing here?" spats of vocational anxiety. So, with that in the back of my mind, here are my *8 Things, off the top of my head, and in no particular order. I am grateful for:
1. The amazingly tasty West Aftrican Peanut Soup we had for dinner tonight - the first time I've tried this recipe from Sundays at Moosewood. (I DO love all the Moosewood cookbooks. And maybe I'll share the recipe here sometime sooner or later).
2. The fact that even though we share a call and cut our income by half (or more) when we moved here, G and I have - since we moved here -  managed to start an emergency fund and save a little more on top of that over the last three years.
3. For the emergency fund, given that we had a water leak in our crawl space which required a plumber to come to our rescue on Saturday.
4. The Munchkin, who is working so hard to walk (15 steps tonight, without holding on to anything, though the last half were definitely "baby" steps) and is weaning herself.
5. The cleaned-out space in the garage so that at least one of our cars will be parked inside when the snow hits this weekend.
6. My husband who cleaned out said space, and who is so fun to watch be "Daddy" to the Munchkin. They are thick as thieves and she doesn't even talk yet - though the giggle can kill you.
7. The promise of time with family over the holidays. I'm not counting down days yet, but getting out of dodge for a few will feel incredible.
8. Every day in my life is different - there's rarely time to get bored - and while this can make planning a challenge, it also keeps me on my toes.

What are your *8 Things?

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Highs and Lows

Wednesday nights during the academic year tend to find me in the congregation's library/conference room/makeshift office for our worship coordinator/director of music. With a group of very hilarious and wonderful middle school students. For ABC (= Affirmation of Baptism Class, aka Confirmation).
Middle schools house three grades here, 6th-8th, and so our ABC ministry follows the school district's lead and we use a three year curriculum: a year of Hebrew Scriptures, a year of Christian Scriptures, and a year of Discipleship in Daily Life (that would be Luther's Small Catechism). We're on the third year of the rotation this year, and the kids are getting in to the catechism pretty well.
Tonight we discussed the 8th commandment, with a couple of rousing games of "Telephone" - very funny. Whereas basic understanding (never mind real-life application) of the 6th commandment required some definition of terms (at least a third of the class members weren't sure what "adultery" even means when we started), they have no problem understanding how bearing false witness against one's neighbor makes a difference in life. They "get it" from their own bus stops and school hallways to American presidential campaigns.
As great as the weekly content of our conversations is, one of my favorite elements of our time together each week is a little life review of "highs and lows." Or "wahoos! and that sucks!" Or "roses and thorns." It's amazing to watch the level of disclosure and reflection deepen as the year goes on. And it is a privilege to be allowed into the minds and hearts of such a great crew of students.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Happy All Saints Day!

I hope you had a wonderful Halloween. And an even better All Saints Day.
(Yesterday we ran an errand to a new big-box-department-store (more on that another time) and there were already Christmas decorations up. Really!?)
Our Halloween was pretty mellow - we managed to carve a couple of pumpkins while the munchkin napped yesterday afternoon, the munchkin wore her (tags-still-on-it-79-cent gift from her Auntie) costume long enough to get a couple of photos snapped, and last night all of 17 trick-or-treaters landed on our porch to get bags of Cheddar Goldfish (something salty to balance all the sugar).

While we ate lunch yesterday, G asked me which saints I'd be remembering and giving thanks for today. I didn't give him much of an answer - asked him his own question, instead, but he did get me thinking. He mentioned a whole host of folks who were members of congregations he's served, and several family members. I thought of a couple of the great church ladies I've known and buried, but mostly thought of seminary classmates, colleagues, and friends who are very much alive and well.
I appreciated the emphasis on contemporary saints in this article, though I wish the author had suggested looking at the person sitting next to you in the pew as a saint for whom we can give thanks - or looking in the mirror and thanking God that God can turn even you (me!) into a saint.
Our congregation celebrated Reformation Sunday this past weekend. Our All Saints celebration will be this weekend. In addition to naming, and lighting candles for, members of the congregation who have died since All Saints last year, we've added the practice of naming and lighting candles for every person baptized in the past year, too, since in the 3+ years we've served this parish, only one member has died. And, everyone in worship will have the opportunity to light a candle in honor/thanksgiving/remembrance of the saints in their lives. The ritual action can be so powerful, and the solemnity of the day inspires awe and reverance in even the most pyromaniacal of kids.
I'm glad we'll have that time in worship, but I wish it could have happened today - so people would have a better chance of getting the connection between the EVENING of All Hallows and the DAY of All Saints.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Yes!

Yes! This makes me glad. Not that I've read it all yet. I may even head to the bookstore to pick myself up a printed copy. Or not, since it's "no impact week."

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

10 years + 10 days

9/11 was 10 days ago. Does it feel like more or less than that? I was intrigued (and to be completely honest, slightly annoyed) by all the media coverage of the anniversary. Somehow it felt like no one was asking the right questions. And I'm not sure how helpful it is to watch footage of planes flying into the World Trade Center on endless repeat.
I thought a lot about "where I was on 9/11" - in Randalstown, Northern Ireland - sort of a suburb of Belfast. I was upstairs at my friends' house, reading something theological, when Liz hollered at me to come downstairs and look at the TV. My first question, upon arriving in the family room was, "What movie are you watching?" Of course, it wasn't a movie.
Having the BBC as my primary news source in the days following 9/11 shaped my experience of those days differently than Americans watching network news or CNN 24/7. And being in a country that's had more than its fair share of terrorist activity in the last multiple generations shaped the way I started thinking about the events of that day, too. Over and over again I heard versions of "I'm really sorry for those who lost their lives, and for those who lost loved ones, but it's about time Americans felt what it's like to live anywhere else in the world." The naivete (and arrogance?) of the shock and "I-can't-believe-this-could-happen-here-this-is-America-and-everyone-loves-us" attitude portrayed in European media was, frankly, shocking to folks in Belfast - as it was also in France, where I spent a week at Taize in mid-October 2011.
I didn't think I had much to say about the 10th anniversary of 9/11, and I guess my own rememberings havven't really said much. I've appreciated these people over the last few weeks - people who've said what I wanted to say, far better than I've found words to say it.

Will Willimon, presiding bishop of the North Alabama Conference of the United Methodist Church, wrote for Christianity Today:

On 9/11 I thought, For the most powerful, militarized nation in the world also to think of itself as an innocent victim is deadly. It was a rare prophetic moment for me, considering Presidents Bush and Obama have spent billions asking the military to rectify the crime of a small band of lawless individuals, destroying a couple of nations who had little to do with it, in the costliest, longest series of wars in the history of the United States.

The silence of most Christians and the giddy enthusiasm of a few, as well as the ubiquity of flags and patriotic extravaganzas in allegedly evangelical churches, says to me that American Christians may look back upon our response to 9/11 as our greatest Christological defeat. It was shattering to admit that we had lost the theological means to distinguish between the United States and the kingdom of God. The criminals who perpetrated 9/11 and the flag-waving boosters of our almost exclusively martial response were of one mind: that the nonviolent way of Jesus is stupid. All of us preachers share the shame; when our people felt very vulnerable, they reached for the flag, not the Cross.

September 11 has changed me. I'm going to preach as never before about Christ crucified as the answer to the question of what's wrong with the world. I have also resolved to relentlessly reiterate from the pulpit that the worst day in history was not a Tuesday in New York, but a Friday in Jerusalem when a consortium of clergy and politicians colluded to run the world on our own terms by crucifying God's own Son.
Copyright © 2011 Christianity Today
Diana Butler Bass is brilliant, here.

A colleague I hope to meet someday posted this sermon.

And thanks to Mary Hess, one of my favorite seminary profs, for posting an Indigo Girls rendition of the first couple verses of Finlandia, below. I hadn't even considered putting a patriotic song in the liturgy on 9/11 (a Sunday, remember) until Saturday afternoon, September 10th - too late. And on Sunday morning, during Communion, a member of the congregation handed me a note asking to sing America the Beautiful before worship was over. I knew I had to do it, but I didn't want to. It's not that I'm unpatriotic, it's just that too many American Christians get their patriotism and their faith blended and confused in ways that aren't good for either. I'm thankful that Finlandia is in our hymnal. A little perpsective - and humility - is good for us.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

The Postcard Project

A new month, a new project (since my last project didn't actually turn out as well as planned - I did TAKE the picture that should have been posted on Friday, August 12th, but clearly didn't manage to POST it).
This next project has several sources of inspiration: Katy, at the Non-Consumer Advocate has a 52 Weeks, 52 Letters project going this year - writing one letter every week. And Tammy, at Rowdy Kittens has been doing a Postcard Project since mid-August. Both have served as reminders to do something I love to do anyway: put pen to paper and send people REAL mail, that can be touched and stuck to the fridge or bulletin board. One of the best parts, though, is that this project is going to cost me very little money. In fact, I'd bet good money that I could send a postcard a day through the end of the year and never have to buy a postcard to make it happen. I've got something of a collection going... (stamps may require purchase, though several of the postcards I have were previously stamped - and some even addressed to folks who have long since moved. Mostly, I need to stock up on those pesky 1, 2 and 5 cent stamps).
SO - don't be surprised if some random postcard shows up in your mailbox. I've got 'em from the 1994 spring break mission trip to Jamaica, from my 1993 sojourn in Norway with a stop in Copenhagen, a 1997 visit to London, and more recent trips to a Benedictine monastery in Idaho, and several other exotic locales. Not to mention all the artsy fartsy postcards I have accumulated along the way.
Ah, how I love me a project...

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Simple Steps

Sometimes simple steps aren't so simple. Or, perhaps more accurately, simple steps aren't always that easy. At least not in our house. Here's what caught my eye today, every single time I came in the front door or had to go upstairs.

Naked stairs!
They are the stairs in our house, and what's different about them is this: there's nothing else there. For pushing 30 hours now, the stairs have been completely clear of anything needing to go upstairs, go out into the garage, get recycled, or generally find some sort of more permanent home. I'd say it's been close to 6 months since this has been the reality in our house. I just got used to walking past all the piles. I got used to putting things down and picking them up again, at whatever stair-height seemed convenient. I nearly broke an ankle and dropped the baby on more than one occasion. And now I can't stop looking at all that naked carpet.
I wonder how long this will last?

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Year(s) in Review

I had my first-ever "ministry review" tonight. I was in my first call for almost 4 years, second call for 2, and we arrived here almost 3 years ago - and this is the first time I've had a formal review in all those years! The church council president and another council member arrived on our doorstep at 7pm and then the fun began...
My dear husband/colleague went first. I tended to the Munchkin upstairs. (The reviews happened at our house so that Munchkin could do her regular bed-time routine with us instead of either being up late or trying to fall asleep with a sitter.We figure since the two of us share one FTE, perhaps it's not too much to ask to have folks come to our house when both of our presences are required. Plus, I served angel food cake with peaches, raspberries and whipped cream. I try to make sure there's a plus-side whenever people accomodate us.)
I think the reviews went okay. We ended up mostly reviewing ourselves - there wasn't a lot of feedback from the two folks involved - it sounds like the whole council will get a turn to add their two cents at our meeting later this week. I'm not sure how I should feel about that. We'll see...
The best part about the review, as far as I'm concerned, is the opportunity to articulate a few goals for the year. Next year's review will start with those. I'm hoping to help more adults get involved in Bible study groups, do a sermon series, spend more time with members/friends of the congregation in their homes/places of work/favorite lunch or coffee spots, and be more intentional in building relationships with and among the college students who worship with us during the academic year. They're all pretty do-able, I think.
Of course goal-setting is important to me generally - how else would one become a "queen of lists"? That said, a lot of my daily to-do's don't always get done. Yep. No photo taken today. I was tempted to take a picture of the Munchkin standing up in her crib with a huge goofy grin on her face, but didn't want the flash to get her all riled up again.
So- here's a photo from the weekend. We spent Sunday afternoon at the local Sweet Pea Festival of the Arts. The Munchkin's first outdoor concert: Shawn Mullins. Not too bad.
The Munchkin and her Daddy at Sweet Pea
Tomorrow: back to work. And there WILL be a photo!

Monday, August 8, 2011

One more thing...

Now that the house is quiet and I'm the last creature awake, I'm catching up a little on some blog reading. One of my favorite things about "wasting" time this way is the wonder-of-the-internet: how you can spend huge amounts of time just clicking links and seeing where they take you. That's especially true on some of the blogs I read.
In case you need a laugh, go read this.

Productive Produce

Today was my first regular day off since late June. And it was a pretty good day. One of the best things about it was actually getting to sleep until I was ready to get up; no alarm was set, the Munchkin managed to go back to sleep a few times. Glorious. The past few weeks have been a bit hectic - VBS last week, the week before we were at Flathead Lutheran Bible Camp as camp pastors, and the week before that was a Middle School Day Camp, called "Service Plunge." All three weeks were great, but all three weeks were BUSY, and meant that our regular schedule of who's in the office when (and who gets to stay home to Munchkin-sit) went directly out the window.
I'm hoping that our schedule works mostly as planned for at least a week or two. We'll see...
Another great thing about today was tending to some of the fruits and veggies we've purchased over the last few days: dehydrated the last of the strawberries this morning, and several pounds of Bing cherries are dehydrating now. We bought multiple bunches of carrots at our Farmers Market Saturday (for two years in a row we have inadequately thinned the carrots in our garden, so they're pretty dang tiny...). And today I made pickled carrots - something I haven't eaten in years, but which I remember eating a lot of as a kid. Then early this evening, we headed to a parishioners house to pick raspberries. We've still got freezer jam in the freezer from last year's crop, so we're just going to enjoy these fresh and maybe freeze a few for winter smoothies and bowls of Cheerios.

8 pints of pickled carrots. They got cooked a bit past "tender."
We're hoping we don't end up with pickled mush!
 After the Munchkin went to bed we sat out on our deck for the first time this summer (long story) and watched the sunset as we made a meal plan for the week. Then we watched a thunderstorm roll in to the south of us. Quite spectacular. (The storm, not the meal plan... though the meal plan should prove incredibly tasty, make the most of local fresh produce and what's already in our freezer, and lead to minimal food waste).
All in all, a good day. The to-do list was only partly completed, but then I am an over-ambitious list maker. And there's always tomorrow.

 -- Speaking of which, it's my goal to at least post a picture-a-day for the next week. I'm hoping it will help me pay attention to what's happening around me, and maybe I'll capture a few fabulous photos while I'm at it.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Seattle

Did a just-before-closing run to Costco on Saturday evening, and heard a snippet of A Prairie Home Companion on NPR en route. Here's a fun piece about my hometown.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Almost free money

I told my sister, who asked me about Swagbucks earlier today, not to sign up herself until I wrote this blog post - not that it's going to be a long one. :)
Like just about everyone else I know, we keep a pretty tight hold on our pennies around here. Any expenditure beyond the usual grocery-list cash is up for conversation. Spending a dollar on a redbox movie is not automatic.
Any opportunities to save on the purchases we're going to make anyway are always much appreciated. To that end, here are a couple of websites that are relatively new to me, latecomer that I am. The first is Gift Card Granny, which I learned about over at this post on Get Rich Slowly. I haven't purchased any discounted gift cards yet, but I have a feeling it will happen sooner or later. One of the places we shop a few times a year is Bed, Bath and Beyond, because they carry the CO2 charges for the most excellent Soda Stream Machine G's brother gave him for his birthday a few years ago. Since we're trying to wean ourselves off soda (but there's no way we'll give up fizz), CO2 canisters will always be on the list. Combine a discounted gift card with one of those ubiquitous BB&B coupons and fizzy water becomes even that much more economical than Diet Coke (yes, I know, drinking plain tap water would be even better, but come on...).
The second site, which I just signed up for today, is Swagbucks. I learned about it first over at The Non Consumer Advocate, and I agree with her assessment, it is a little gimmicky - but if doing what I do anyway  - searching the internet and reading a few different blogs - can land me the occasional Amazon gift card (or any of a number of other "prizes"), that'd be great! Even better (for me - and you, if you get friends to use your referral link) is that they give Swagbucks for making referrals. I'm putting the widget on my blog. We'll see!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

It's beginning to feel a lot like summer

Happy June!
(So, it turns out NaBloPoMo still isn't my thing - but hey, 13 posts out of 31 days isn't SO bad. It's a whole lot more than I'd written for quite a while.)
Here in the land of Unseen Endings, we had a wonderful week in Washington, inspired by my nephew's baptism on May 22nd. I thought about writing something the whole time we were gone, and each day had its own memories and stories to share. Perhaps I'll get to those sometime THIS month.

Today, though, is for sharing the work that's already been done in our yard.
On Monday, a very rainy day here in Bozeman, G, the Munchkin and I headed to a family-owned nursery here in town, to take advantage of the end of their sale on bare root shrubs (25% off!). One of the fantastic things, besides the price, about said shrubs is, obviously, that their roots are bare. This means the hole one must dig is not-so-big. We got four new shrubs planted in about an hour and a half this morning, with plenty of time for wandering to talk to a neighbor, pull out some weeds, and come back in the house to nurse a hungry baby.
The plants we put in the ground are: a Rose Tree of China, an Annabelle hydrangea (I'll be messing with soil acidity a few years from now if I want blue flowers instead of white), a Wedgewood Lilac and a miniature Cranberry bush. A couple of them are just starting to bud out. Of course it will be a few years before they are mature enough to be impressive, but just knowing their promise makes me glad. And being outside under a mostly blue sky in ratty old cargo pants and a long sleeved t-shirt added to the giddiness. There are parts of this state that are severely under water, and there's more rain coming here, but for now it feels just a little like summer might finally be here to stay for a while.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Two Words

Rummage. Sale. $1425.77 for Family and Youth Ministry. Thanks be to God the Sale is over for another year.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Not (Entirely) My Fault

Last night I tried to log on to write a quick blog post, but Blogger was down. I'd like to say that my failure to get a post up yesterday wasn't my fault, but the fact that I didn't sit down to try until 11pm is no one's fault but my own (despite the fact it was 10pm before we got home from our church council meeting).
For the last 24 hours my thoughts have been circling around the pluses and minuses of sharing a call with my husband. When it is good, it is very very good, but when it is bad... horrid about sums it up.
By far, more days are very very good - I love that we are investing in the same congregation. I love that the Munchkin is cared for by one of us every day and that we don't have to drop her off at daycare. I love that we get to spend Christmas and Easter together. I love that we can try to work from our gifts and strengths, which are quite different. I love that the people I minister to and with also know my husband.
On the horrid side - sometimes we live in each others' pockets just a tad too much for comfort; sometimes the hard stuff from work comes home, and the hard stuff at home goes to work; sometimes it'd be nice to have a safe harbor at home to talk about difficulties with my colleague.
I think a lot about integration, and having a life that is all of a piece, but sometimes I wish I could draw tidy little compartmentalizing boundaries around parts of my world, and just be the wife and mom.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Contemplating getting back in the saddle

Every once in a while I wonder what might my life would be like had I ended up working in the field of one of my undergraduate degrees (in my over-achieving youth I got a BS in Atmospheric Science and a BA in Scandinavian Area Studies from an excellent state university). The science has always seemed like the more "valuable" - or marketable, anyway - of the degrees. Right after graduation I thought about staying in school, but needed a break, and neither Kansas nor Northern Alaska, where Weather Service openings were at the time, felt like the right move.
It's been a long time since I've been able to "do the math" the way I used to, but I think it will be good for me to start plugging back in to the science. (At our pastors' conference at Chico Hot Springs after Easter, one of our speakers talked some about the intersection of faith and science - particularly in terms of stewardship of the earth, which piqued my interest). So, before I get all gung-ho and start looking seriously at DMin programs - more school so often seems like a good idea - I think it would be a good idea to catch up a little. After all, a lot has changed since I graduated in 1995.

I think I may have found a helpful blog for this purpose: RealClimate.org - and they've got a great place to start if you want to learn more about climate change and the science behind current models and theories. That's where I'll be spending some screen time in the next few days and weeks.
The 350.org site is another place I'll be hanging out. And, what do you know, there's even a site called Lutherans Restoring Creation which is brand-spanking-new to me. Huh. Guess I've got my work cut out for me.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Conversations

Yesterday evening a couple of family friends from what seems like a lifetime ago stopped by. They are a bit younger than my folks, and I think were the first couple my sister and I called "Auntie" and "Uncle" who were not actually aunts or uncles.
After moving so many times in the last 15 years, I must say it's fun to talk with folks who remember when I was in elementary school - and what I was like back in those days. I'm not sure if it's a pro or a con, moving away from the people who know you and your history the best - a little of both, I suppose.
One of the most fun parts of the evening (besides the dinner they took us out to enjoy) was introducing them to the Munchkin, and then watching the Munchkin enjoy their dog, Mandy, who is a Dachshund mix of some kind. The Munchkin is completely in love with dogs, and the conversation she had with Mandy was pretty dang hilarious.

video

Monday, May 9, 2011

Where does the time go?

A couple of weeks ago, I kept running into the same saying, in all kinds of places: "The days are long, but the years are short."
I think I would agree, usually.
Except sometimes, the days are short, too.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Momma's Day

To all the mothering types of the world: Happy Mother's Day. As I discovered many of my colleagues do, I struggle with the inclusion of Mother's Day on Sunday morning. For some it's a great day of joy and happiness, but for so many others, it's just NOT. For women who long to give birth but can't, for women whose children - of any age - have preceded them in death, for men and women who have difficult relationships with their moms... so many reasons that it can be a harder than average day.
There was much discussion on the RevGalBlogPals blog about Mother's Day and how to include it, or not, in worship. One of the most helpful pieces was posted at a pearl down under. I included this litany in the prayers of intercession this morning. I think it's pretty great.

Of course, this is my first momma's day as a momma, and apart from the sleep deprivation, I have to say it's been a good day. I got to talk to my Mom and my Mom-in-law. G gave me a great card and a gift certificate to the spa at the hospital (where I had an absolutely GLORIOUS pre-natal massage about a month before baby arrived). And I got to spend the day snuggling with one of the cutest kids ever. Here's a photo (taken 13 days ago) of the Munchkin whose Momma I am blessed to be:

Saturday, May 7, 2011

It's still Saturday somewhere...

Well, so much for writing every day in May - technically speaking, I didn't even make it through the first week. But, I'm still up, despite the fact that I'm now into early Sunday morning. My sermon is kicking my butt.
In reading the gospel text for tomorrow, Luke 24:13-35 over and over, I realized that I could likely do an introduction (for some, hopefully, a re-introduction) of Vibrant Faith Ministries (formerly the Youth & Family Institute) four keys to nurturing faith in the home and congregation:
1. caring conversations
2. devotions
3. service
4. rituals and traditions

It's still not quite done, though I'm getting tired enough to head to bed and try to get up early to put the finishing touches on it.
Good thing tomorrow's Mother's Day - I am definitely going to need a nap!

Friday, May 6, 2011

The List

I am a To Do List junkie. At our rehearsal dinner, G's brothers and friends sang his praises and generally impressed everyone with what a fabulous and caring guy he is. My friends and family went for the "roast the bride" angle on rehearsal dinner toasts and speeches, and they made sure G was well aware of some of my chief foibles before he said "I do" the next day. Near the top of the list: my lists. Yes, plural. I think they gave G some post it notes, and I don't remember if a white board was involved or not...
 I don't actually have a list of lists, but I don't think it would surprise anyone who knows me well if I did.
I come by my need for lists honestly. I am a recovering over-achiever, and even back in my high school days I had enough irons in the fire to necessitate an "external brain" - a piece of college-ruled notebook paper with two columns to a side full of homework, projects, papers and other things I needed not to forget.
During my college years, recognizing that I needed to begin each day with a sense of accomplishment, thinks like "eat breakfast" and "shower" were at the top of each day's list. And most days, they got crossed off. I discovered I am not above adding something to the list after it's been finished, just to have the joy of crossing something off.
These days, there's usually a list for the week, from Tuesday - Monday, since we take Mondays off at our house. It's not on notebook paper anymore, it's a typed list. And it's color coded, in four sections. The first is stuff to do at work. The second is stuff to do at work that I know there's no way I'll get to THIS week, but which ought not be forgotten. The third section is full of tasks to do at home. And the fourth is like the second - things that I know I won't get around to any time soon, but that I need to keep on my radar.
There are many tasks that are on the list every week (like update the congregation's website, prepare for teaching Confirmation, etc.). And some that only appear a couple times a year (send mother's day cards, pick up steer manure to mix into raised bed, mix in steer manure, etc.).
The bummer is, this week I never managed to actually modify and print the list. I have that sinking feeling I'm forgetting a few things...
I'm enjoying poking around in this post about to-do lists over at Unclutterer. Perhaps it's time for an overhaul. And maybe I'll feel better with shorter lists.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Loving the Library

The Munchkin and I hit the Bozeman Public Library today. I love the library. M's not sure what to think, I think, as she slept through most of our visit (perfect!). I had quite a take, after roaming the stacks for a few minutes. I love seeing what one search leads to, and could easily spend hours pulling books off the shelves. Here's the haul. We'll see how many I can get through before they're due on June 2nd!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

(Maybe) Read. (Probably Not) Reply.

A member of my congregation likes to forward me lots of stuff. Lots.of.stuff. Seriously. For awhile I felt compelled to open it all and then try to read it all, and then think of some decent response to email back to him. I couldn't keep up. Finally, I told him I'd subscribed myself to the Henri Nouwen Society's daily email, and also let him know that I wouldn't always be able to reply to all of the First Things articles, youtube videos and assorted other things he sends. He seemed surprised that I'd thought he expected me to in the first place. Let me tell you - after the fall out we took at our house for taking some parental leave, G and I were starting to feel a little paranoid. Unnamed, unspoken expectations can be dangerous things. Especially if you're the one of whom a couple hundred people have unspoken expectations.
Fortunately, after some hard work, lots of listening, and near-constant reminders not to get defensive, things are getting better. At some point I'll be able to write a half-way intelligible and thoughtful paragraph about how the whole thing went down.

In the meantime, you might also enjoy the meditation the Henri Nouwen Society sent on Easter. It must have made an impact on me. I remembered the "maybe" - perfect for this month's nablopomo - and perhaps a fitting description of the growing edge of my life, too.

Christ is risen. He is risen indeed. We joyfully announce it. [And yet] I realize that my faith and unbelief are never far from each other. Maybe it is exactly at the place where they touch each other that the growing edge of my life is.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Please Pass the Paper

I love it when little ideas come to fruition, without me pushing to make them happen.
After our synod pastors' conference at Chico Hot Springs last week (more about that later), I've been trying to think of simple things our household could do to continue simplifying, build community, and live a little lighter on the earth.
When I finally rolled into the office late this afternoon (Grant had a continuing ed. gig til mid-afternoon), I ended up having a good conversation with our office manager. We covered a wide range of topics, including stewardship, giving, making sacrifices, American lifestyles of consumption, etc.... I mentioned how we'd given up our satellite TV, she mentioned they've given up their daily newspaper.
And a light bulb appeared over my head. We still get the daily paper - why don't we share?
So, starting tomorrow, I'll take the paper with me to work and hand it over. I said I couldn't make any guarantees about getting today's paper today - chances are good it'll be a day later - but she didn't mind (the crossword will keep). The only promise I extracted was that the paper will be recycled when her household is finished with it - otherwise she has to bring it back and give it back to me so I can recycle it. She laughed. No problem.
How fantastic!!
This feels especially good, since over the weekend I also remembered to ask another family at church if they have a broadcast spreader for things like grass seed and fertilizer that we could borrow. I figure if we only use it once or twice a year, there's no reason we need to own one!
The spreader arrived by the office door Sunday night. Perfect!
It feels good NOT to buy things, and even better to share the things we already have.

Monday, May 2, 2011

A death in the human family

Just before I turned off the computer last night and finally headed to bed, I saw the headlines that Osama bin Laden had been killed, and listened to the President's speech about it.
It's been hard to avoid coverage about it - front page of the paper, all over the news, and even all over facebook. I am thankful that so many of my friends who "demand a deeper ethic for the world," as one new facebook pal put it.
Check out tensegrities, and the links offered there.
Maybe... someday we will actually remember to pray for our enemies, and to love them, until the only enemy left is death itself.

What follows is the letter to all the members of my denomination, the ELCA, from our Presiding Bishop. Not bad.

Sisters and brothers in Christ,

 The death of Osama bin Laden is an occasion for solemn remembrance. We remember the lives of all whose deaths resulted from his choosing hatred and violence. We stand with those who continue to mourn the death of loved ones while giving thanks for their lives, their love and their faith. We also continue to hold in prayer all whose service in the military, in government and in humanitarian and peacemaking activities contribute to a safer and more prosperous world.

At the same time we also recall who we are: people baptized into Christ, freed to serve our neighbors. We are people called as Christ’s ambassadors of reconciliation with our neighbors, serving God’s work of restoring community. We engage our neighbors of other faiths, including our Muslim neighbors near and far, in respectful, searching dialogue and shared commitment to build a world that reflects God’s will for peace with justice. We pray for our neighbors, even those who are our enemies.
Most of all, in these 50 days of celebrating Christ’s resurrection, joy finds its fullest and deepest expression not over a human death but in God’s promise to unite all things in heaven and on earth, to reconcile the human family and to bring God’s reign of peace. Confident in what God has promised, we witness our resolve against any act of violence in the name of religion and our renewed commitment of service to the neighbors and world God so deeply loves.

In God’s grace,

Mark S. Hanson

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Maybe

I signed up for Nablopomo, or "National Blog Posting Month" for the month of May. It seemed like a good idea at the time, but now that it's pushing 11pm on a Sunday night and I am for the first time sitting down at the computer, I think perhaps I was wrong...
Nablopomo was initially developed to go along with nanowrimo (national novel writing month, when crazy people sign up to churn out a novel in the month of November. I did it back in 2009, and of course have not returned to that manuscript even once. Someday, perhaps...). Now, nablopomo is EVERY month, and every month the minds behind the frenzy offer a theme. This month it's "maybe." Following the theme is optional, and most months I have fleeting thoughts about engaging it and committing to writing more in terms of quantity, if not at all "more" in terms of quality.
Last week, in my post-Easter exhaustion and hopefulness, I entertained all kinds of crazy notions about making more time to write (and read, clean, exercise, cook, etc.). We'll see how that turns out.
I'm learning that in some ways, maybe in some of the least helpful ways, Easter works like New Year's Day in my life - there is before, and after, when of course I'll get everything organized and straightened up and put back on track. Somehow I don't think a massive self-improvement project is what the liturgy has in mind when we are reminded of the newness of life we have in our risen Lord.
Maybe I should just cut myself some slack.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

That Thursday



"Do you know what I have done to you?" he asked that night.
Twenty-four damp feet shifted. That's a rhetorical question, right?
No matter, he didn't even pause for effect.

"Do we know what you have done for us?" Sure, Teacher. No problem, Lord.

Wait.

What was the question?

What have you done to us?
     Why did you take off your outer robe?
What have you done to me?
     Not just my feet but my hands and my head, and my elbows, my knees, my eyes, ears, lips...

"Do you know what I have done to you?"

Sometimes. Sometimes I know.
Sometimes I know,
     the way I remember a dream for all of thirty seconds when I wake up;
     the way the lyrics to that song are almost on the tip of my tongue;
     the way my child looks into my eyes and sees things I didn't even know were there;
     the way all I ever hoped and longed for is suddenly mine, having been there all along.

I know now, in this moment. But I am prone to forgetfullness, and to distrust what I know.
I need you to remind me. Command me. Send me back to the basin and the towel.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

I'm back. I think.

I've been asbent from Unseen Endings for awhile. For several reasons. Perhaps I'll get into those later. For now, I'm back. I think. There's a lot I've been meaning to say, and I plan eventually to get around to saying at least a fraction of it. But for now, go read this post. Amazing. It might get a mention in my Good Friday meditations, if I can figure out just where to put it and how... I'll let you know.