Tuesday, January 31, 2006

slow news day

I've been sitting here staring at this blank composition screen wondering what to write this morning. Nothing comes to mind! The minor rhythms of life don't seem worthy of mention, and certainly don't make for very interesting reading. But for any regular visitors (I think there are about five of you, LOL), surely you'd like something different to read since the last time you came to this page. So, borrowing a page from Pam's EB post the other day, here's something a little different—things most recent (and yes, mundane)…

Last meal eaten: lunch, a chef salad
TV program watched: “24”
Dog let out: Dooley
Dog let in: Dooley (yes, there’s a theme at work here)
Email received: from a clergy colleague
Domestic chore accomplished: dusting!
View from the window: chickens pecking in the leaves
Phone call received: a request from a church to do some regular supply (substitute) work
Web site visited: NY Times crossword puzzles
Photograph taken: friends in Elkhart
Mail read: a late Christmas card
Periodical skimmed (reading is another matter!): Yale Divinity School Year in Review
Computer game played: spider solitaire

Well, that’s about it from here. Hope your day has been a bit more interesting than mine!

Sunday, January 29, 2006

silver linings

Home at last! After a week on the road it's good to be back within proximity of my routine! There are still some things to be put away, and the chaos I left behind when I departed so abruptly last week for the funeral awaited my return! Never a shortage of things needing attention around here.

I'm attempting laundry, but the washer isn't consistent when it comes to spinning, and now the dryer sounds like its get up and go has got up and left. It's always something, eh? I still need to go through mail, and the dust has increased one hundred-fold in my absence. My work is cut out for me.

I'm grateful for a day through which I can simply amble, even with things that need to get done. The last week has been filled with the richness of relationships, and I am enjoying letting the experience of it sink in and mellow. I need to thank my mother (and her mother, before her) for setting the example of maintaining relationships. There's a reason that she sends out more than 300 Christmas letters each year. She values her friends and spends time nurturing those relationships, often by visiting when she's on the road herself. Those relationships enrich her life, and the breadth of her friendships keep her spirit open and growing.

I was reminded, through my own experience in these last two days at our annual diocesan convention, of the value of that same diversity in my own life. Though aligned with some because of shared theological views, there are others I have gotten to know during my years of ministry here that I enjoy and care about. Because of issues and controversies facing our church, we are divided along some lines, but our affection for each other transcends those differences. In some ways it is helpful that there are topics of conversation best left alone, because we then focus on other aspects of our lives and our relationships that might otherwise suffer neglect. Life is full of opportunities and experiences, and we are each individuals whose layers and complexities contribute to the richness of humanity. In our encounters with each other we are given the chance to discover aspects of our own being in unique ways, and it is those exchanges that stretch us and invite us to be as fully alive as possible. How sad it is when we choose to surround ourselves only with those who share our viewpoint or don't challenge the way we look at things.

On another note--a benefit of being gone for Elaine's funeral also gave me some time to work on some layouts that I had hoped to complete over that weekend. Not being on home turf relieved me of the usual distractions and tasks that might have interfered with that objective had I actually been home. These were layouts that I had been asked to contribute for inclusion in an upcoming publication on faith scrapbooking. It was an opportunity not to be squandered, and I am so grateful to have gotten them done in time.

Following the lead of other scrappers I have created a blog for the sole purpose of sharing layouts or other work. The link to it is http://scrappinchaplain.blogspot.com/ , but I have also included the link on the sidebar of this blog for future reference (notice the clever description, LOL!).

Enough for now, there's dusting and vacuuming to be done. Too bad Dooley's tail doesn't sweep the ground when he wags it. He could be mighty helpful right about now!

Saturday, January 28, 2006

last lap!

This road-weary traveler is on her last day of activity and travel before she will land home tonight. I am more than ready to get those slippers on (though I do travel with a pair), climb into my sweats (and yes, I travel with those, too), and lounge with a glass of wine, dogs snuggled up or within reach, and my honey within reach, too!

Just now I need to scramble to get some breakfast, load up the car and get over to the church for today's opening eucharist and day two of our diocesan convention. So far, no blood-letting, but the evidence of manipulation sat in the pew in front of me yesterday, and then sat next to me, so I all too aware of its presence. Sigh. Come, Holy Spirit, come!

Looking forward to being back in touch. Miss you all!

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

a new picture, finally!

Tonight was Marcus' ordination, and it was a nice evening. By the time we were able to take this picture the service was over and he had greeted everyone at the back of the church, and the pressure was on for him to "get to the party" in the room across the hall where everyone was noshing. Being the good guy that he is, he had his priorities straight and took the time for posing!

For all the traveling entailed by this trip, it has been an amazingly good time. It was wonderful to see my friends in Indy, whom I hadn't seen since we all left St. Louis in '99, and they had triplets! Tim was on late shift last night, so after the kids went to bed Jody and I stayed up for a while and had good conversation and catching up over wine. The intervening years melted away in a heartbeat, a true measure of enduring friendship, I think.

Here in Elkhart I'm also staying with friends from St. Louis days, and it's been wonderful to catch up with them, too. Gretchen and I had traveled together on a tour to Israel and Egypt eight years ago, so we've had fun reminiscing about that as well as sharing what's happening in the present. This trip has been a tonic. Nostalgic, too, since I lived in Indiana for six years once upon a time, and driving these roads evokes memories. Tomorrow I will begin to wend my way toward home, with one more stop.

Looking forward to being home where I can actually be in touch!

on the run

Just a quick note from the road so that anyone visiting here at least has something new to read! I spent the night last night with friends in Indianapolis and leave this morning to head north to Elkhart, IN, where my last student is being ordained tonight. I'll get to see friends there, too, before I head back to Tennessee on Thursday. Friday and Saturday is our annual diocesan convention, so I will be attending that before getting home Saturday night. It's been a whirlwind!

Finding time and access for the computer has been a challenge, so getting a word to you has been difficult. I miss everyone! Please pass on my greetings to early birds, monkeys, or others!

ciao!

Thursday, January 19, 2006

bittersweet day

My day began with great excitement. I was asked to contribute several photographs and layouts for inclusion in an upcoming book about faith scrapbooking. The author of this work interviewed me last summer related to this, and she had two of my layouts already. I was thrilled that she wanted to include more. I immediately cleared the decks for the next few days to work on these so that I could get them sent to her by early next week.

Late this morning, however, I had a call from my mother to let me know that my sister-in-law's mother died this morning. Only a few days ago we learned of her diagnosis of leukemia, and last night Mom called to let me know that Elaine had taken a turn for the worst. Tomorrow I will head to Connecticut to be with my family during these sad and difficult days.

When I return, it will be time to drive north to Elkhart, Indiana, to attend the ordination of my last student. From there, I come back for my diocese's annual convention. I will come home at the conclusion of that event.

I have a few hours to pull together the layouts that I can, but I won't be able to send what I had planned. Though it's disappointing not to be able to do all that I had hoped, my priorities are clear.

This is a sad time for my family. My sister-in-law lost her only brother to heart failure a few years ago. Her father died shortly before that. Her mother's brother was diagnosed recently with pancreatic cancer, and her step-father is ailing as well. It's a lot to contend with, and a heavy sadness to bear.

I'll be in touch when I can. My love to you all.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

another day, another challenge

Another challenge (thanks, Kath)! How often do we avoid taking the risk of trying something new because we’re afraid that we won’t do it “just right,” or perfectly? The challenge is two-fold: to consider embracing the adventure of trying something new and different, and to come up with five such things that fall into that category!

List five things you would love to do, if you didn't have to do them perfectly.

1. If I didn't have to do it perfectly, I’d love to paint watercolors. I love watercolor paintings, and a few years ago I took a course so that I could actually learn how to paint. The problem was that we didn’t really receive any instruction, just assignments. I have one finished project from that class that I’m not embarrassed to show anyone, and one that is unfinished, but I think has potential. I still don’t know what I am doing, but at least now I have some basic equipment. Maybe one of these days I’ll try it again.

2. If I didn't have to do it perfectly, I’d learn how to fly, LOL! Now that could be interesting. I know it certainly helps to stay alive if you fly perfectly, but maybe there’s room for less than perfect. I’m just afraid I’d never master all the technical knowledge to make it possible for anyone to let me get off the ground solo. But then again, I might surprise myself!

3. If I didn't have to do it perfectly, I might have to say ballroom dancing (shhhh, don’t tell Ken)! I tend to be a bit of a perfectionist when it comes to dance, and that has gotten in my way all this time as far as ballroom goes. I know from my former dance days what a difference it makes when your partner knows what he or she is doing, and I hate to be the one to mess anyone else up. I don’t like to look bad either, but it matters more that my partner wants to dance with me!

4. If I didn't have to do it perfectly, I would arrange flowers. My mother has a wonderful knack for this and does beautiful work, but my own efforts have never approached what she creates. I love fresh-cut flowers, and would fill the house with arrangements of all sizes and in all kinds of containers if I could.

5. If I didn't have to do it perfectly, I would try song-writing. Back in the good ole teenager years I was able to do some basic guitar-playing, and I did actually write a couple of songs, but I’ve never done anything since. Occasionally I come across some beautiful poetry that I think would be wonderful set to music, but I just never go beyond that initial thought. I don’t see myself as a composer, but I love to sing, especially in parts. Maybe it’s that urge to bring harmony that lies behind this…

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

we're home!

Dooley and I returned home last night from our sojourn to St. Louis. It's good to be home, but it was a good and full weekend! You've heard about our adventures on Friday. On Saturday Caroline and I had a quick breakfast and then headed to radio station KTRS. She does a regular call in show where listeners can "ask the veterinarian" questions concerning their pets. The show has been airing on an afternoon weekday, but they're switching to a Saturday morning format, so this was the dry run for that change. I've done a few radio shows as a guest (when I was on the program staff of a YWCA we used to plug our programs, and again as a "new minister" when I was in Lebanon), so the terrain was familiar. But it was fun, and Caroline is an old pro doing these shows.

Caroline and Mark also have an "entertainment room" at their house, and tons of DVD's, so I chose to make a small dent in my movie viewing by watching "Seabiscuit." Loved it! It's a wonderful/poignant story. We then all gathered for dinner, then Caroline and Mark and I went to the symphony. It has been ages since I've been to a symhony, and what a treat that was! My day of cultural binging was topped off by a visit to a pub called "The Scottish Arms" (where most of the male servers wore kilts!) an absolute natural for this Scotophile. They had umpteen single malt scotches, which we sampled, of course, and genuine Scottish fare on the menu. We weren't exactly hungry, but we managed to put away a serving of crisps with curry dipping sauce and celtic chicken wings, which were awesome! Wish I had been able to try their lamb burger, which is something I can eat on my strange blood-type diet!

Sunday Mark had a bridge tournament, so Caroline and I went to church (great sermon, what a treat!), then returned home to pick up Mark's girls to get a quick bite at the Cheesecake Factory (oh Janet, guess what we ate?) and then do some shopping. Mark's brother is getting married next month, so suitable attire for wedding festivities was on the agenda. Brittany (17), found a great skirt and top, Maddie (14), found an adorable pink chiffon dress and silver shoes, and Caroline found dresses for both the wedding and rehearsal dinner. I lucked out with two pairs of shoes that are making my crunched-toed feet very happy, so it was a highly successful expedition!

Sunday night C and M went to see a play that Maddie was in, and I went to see Kathy and watch the season premiere of "24." What fun! Looks like it will be a great season, but how sad to lose David Palmer. Kathy is doing well with two chemo treatments under her belt. She looks good and her spirits are great.

So, now its back to the grind, and Dooley is a bit more content, I think, only to have to contend with Juliet than Caroline's three dogs. It's a rainy day here, so time to get busy with indoor things, of which there are so many! Dooley sends his thanks to everyone for your concern and good wishes. He's busy wagging his tail (when he's not snoozing...)

Saturday, January 14, 2006

dooley update

I know, y'all couldn't sleep last night wondering how poor Dooley is doing! I'm happy to report that the little bugger is doing great! We removed the little tumor on his neck last night, and Caroline tells me she is sure it's benign. We'll do a biopsy to be sure, but things look very good.

It was a rather funny event for me. Caroline gave him a local, which, for him, was more like a heavy sedative. There he was standing on the surgical table wagging his tail and looking like the king of the world, and the next thing you know he stretched out his paws and slid into the "recline" position, and rolled over on his side. Down for the count! He also drooled during this, which wasn't particularly pleasant, but that was a temporary affliction. Caroline got the tumor excised (it was a protruding growth) and stitched Dooley up, and then we took him into the other room to have his nails clipped (this was a courtesy to one of the staff, who had already swept the floor in that surgical suite). Still groggy from the anesthesia, he looked like he was in a bit of a drunken stupor, complete with extended tongue. I've included a pic for your amusement.

It was a bit of a fun night at the clinic: a rabbit who has taken to peeing into her fur (you don't want to hear more, LOL), a cat with fatty liver disease who gets fed through a tube, a boarder whose owner insists that he wear a sweater to bed at night...

When Caroline was done we headed for a quick dinner before she had to pick up her step-daughter, who was returning from a ski trip. As I locked the car to head into the restaurant a woman getting into her car next to mine called to me.

"Are you leaving your dog in the car?" she asked, "he'll freeze!"

Ah, someone who at least pays attention to all those reports in the summer about pets left in the car and getting "cooked." How sweet, she feared for my dog!

"He'll be fine," I told her. "He has a blanket, and he'll be fine." Not to mention that dogs live outdoors in this kind of weather (30's) all the time. Not to mention that Dooley doesn't necessarily stay still. He likes to leap into the back and paw through things to make sure there aren't any buried treasures. Next he would check out the accommodations offered by the back seat. He would then head to the front once again where he could nest in his blanket or indulge in fantasies of being behind the wheel. No slouch, my dog.

The woman wouldn't give up. "He'll freeze!!" she insisted, and gave me a look as though to try to freeze me. I could see it all over her face, I was being a bad mother.

"I'm with my veterinarian (my trump card). He'll be fine." I appreciate that her intentions were good, but what was with her? She was near to obsessing about the welfare of my dog. Who, by the way, was just fine when we were reunitd less than an hour later, and wanted to know what treats I had brought for him!

It is all about him, after all...

Friday, January 13, 2006

on the road -- again!

I'm about to head off to St. Louis with my little Dooley. We'll be driving directly to Caroline's clinic (she's my friend and our long-distance vet!) where he'll get his neck checked, and she'll aspirate the growth. Depending on what she finds, she may remove it tonight, take him in first thing in the morning, or go in on Sunday. We'll see! He's a good little traveler, and a brave patient, so I think he'll do fine this weekend. We'll head home on Monday.

Caroline and Mark, her husband, have full days tomorrow with various things, so I'll have some time to myself. I have so many things to do just to catch up with life, like organize 2005's finances, that there is no shortage of ways to keep myself busy! But I also decided that I need to do a little scrapping, for me. Last night I began to organize my "ABC" list of things for which I am grateful, for a gratitude album that I have been wanting to do. Rather than haul all sorts of tools and equipment with me, I decided that I will sketch the pages for this album this weekend. It was helpful to go through the list last night, since once of the things on my list is veterinarians! I will take my camera into the clinic with me tonight and shoot some pics of Caroline and Dooley to use in the album. One of the great things about sketching out the pages is that I can plan for pictures that I don't yet have (like garlic, that I want to include on my "g" page, LOL). I've already decided that there will be a standard format for the album, and pages will vary depending on how many words and pictures or images I have for each letter. It's a project, to be sure!

So, off to pack the car and get on the road. Prayers for Dooley are appreciated!

Thursday, January 12, 2006

year in review

A number of my fellow scrappers have been responding to another challenge to review 2005. I have really enjoyed reading their insights and reflections about the year, and have been inspired to follow suit with my own review. What follows is my attempt to look back. Thanks for taking the time to read it!

What did you do in 2005 that you'd never done before?
Started my own business!... spent a week on the Outer Banks in North Carolina… was interviewed for an article for publication in a national church magazine… visited the offices of The Church Center (Episcopal) in New York… went to Ground Zero.

Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
I believe in the theory that I’m a work in progress, and that resolutions arise spontaneously according to awareness or the successful breakthrough of denial! There are lots of things that need attention, but highest on that list is being more attentive to and communicative with my friends and family.

Did anyone close to you give birth?
In August we welcomed our Cabana Baby, Brian, into the Crew, and in December my best friend’s second grandchild, Ella Noelle Marks (pictured), graced the world with tidings of great joy!

Did anyone close to you die?
I lost my beloved Border Collie, Brenna, in May. It has become apparent recently that for the other two dogs she was really an anchor, and they are not the same without her. There were also three deaths in my extended family, and one of them, my cousin Alden, was one of my favorite people.

What countries did you visit?
Sometimes I think that places in my own country qualify as being another planet, but since that is simply one girl’s opinion I guess the answer would be one—the good old US of A. Now, go ahead and ask me how many states I visited!!

How many states did you visit?
I’m so glad you asked! Except for a handful, I was in every state east of the Mississippi, and the fine state of Missouri. My car logged 35,000 miles. Phew, that was exhausting!

What would you like to have in 2006 that you lacked in 2005?
Financial resources, resolutions to some outstanding questions, and adequate space in which to run my business.

What date from 2005 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
There were lots of events in the lives of people who are important to me that are memorable: Johanna’s wedding and Junior’s graduation from Ranger school are two of the joyous ones. My friend Kathy’s cancer diagnosis is the most devastating.
On a national level I will remember the tragic unfolding of Hurricane Katrina’s aftermath. The event exposed much of what is ugly in our society and culture, including ignorance, arrogance, bigotry and apathy. It also revealed generosity and compassion among many whose hearts were not burdened by the above (or that were transformed if they were!).

What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Leaving my job to start my own business.

What was your biggest failure?
Not being more responsive to the needs of the people in the three congregations I served.

Did you suffer illness or injury?
A horrible back injury that sidelined me a good bit early in the year. I’m grateful to have access to a very good chiropractor, who I continue to see for “maintenance,” related to old alignment problems.

What was the best thing you bought?
My plane ticket to Cleveland, and my new camera.

Where did most of your money go?
The boring B’s: business startup and bills.

What did you get really, really, really excited about?
Starting my business… Carrabba’s carmelized onion and sun-dried tomato pizza… sharing a Cabana Crew weekend for Petra’s surprise baby shower. (That's Kip, me, Janet, Jules, Moni and Pete.)

Compared to this time last year, are you:
* happier or sadder? Happier!
* thinner or fatter? Fatter, and not happy about it!
* richer or poorer? Poorer in dollars, richer in spirit.

What do you wish you'd done more of?
Been in better touch with my family and friends.

What do you wish you'd done less of?
Let anxiety about technical matters paralyze me. My catchphrase for the new year is perseverance!

How did you spend Christmas?
For the first time in 15 years, I was able to be with my family for the entire holiday. That's a picture of our Christmas Eve feast!

What was your favorite TV program?
The West Wing, JAG (before it was cancelled), 24, and almost any good sleuthing program. I also enjoy NCIS and Grey’s Anatomy.

What was the best book you read?
Reading has been something of a casualty of life this year, but I started, and keep trying to return, to Brian McLaren’s A New Kind of Christian.

What was your greatest musical discovery?
Coming upon (and buying!) Alisdair Fraser’s CD of Robert Burns’ tunes.

What was your favorite film of this year?
This is a trick question, right? I didn’t even get to the movies until Thanksgiving! Between then and the end of the year I saw only three films, and none of them warrant mention.

What tag line best describes the year?
Road trip!

What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
I turned 48, and my honey took me out to dinner.

What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
The successful launching of my business’s web site.

How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2005?
comfortable

What kept you sane?
Friends, Ken, my dogs and spider solitaire.

What political issue stirred you the most?
It isn’t so much a particular issue, but the all too frequent practice demonstrated by many conservatives of accusing an opponent of malice, immorality, or a lack of patriotism when a dissenting opinion is voiced. It would appear that civil discourse will soon become anachronistic if this practice continues. I recognize that such behavior is demonstrated by persons of all political persuasions, and I don’t excuse that, either, but hey, I can be partisan here!

Is there anyone new in your life that has made a difference?
Jayne Trapnell, whose friendship has been a joy, and who introduced me to Ken.
Ken, whose love, support and constancy allows and encourages me to bump through life with authenticity and integrity, and most of the time, without fear.

Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2005:
It’s worth the risk to follow your dreams.

Quote a song lyric that sums up your year:
On the road again!

What question didn’t get asked that should have?
I can’t quite phrase the question myself, but the answer is Ken. Since we met in February life has taken on a new dimension. There’s love, the growth that comes from investing in a relationship, the challenges of confronting assumptions and reaffirming values,
learning more fully the benefit of hearing a differing viewpoint, and learning really cool stuff about the military, LOL (a pretty bizarre thing for a pacifist!). Without his encouragement to do what was right for me I would probably still be struggling in my old job, and that is no small thing. It’s also not bad to have honey-do lists done with dispatch! Thanks, sweetie!

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

responding to the challenge!

On her blog, Kip posted her responses to a challenge to list ten things she likes about herself. She then went on to challenge the rest of us to do the same. Okay, Kip, here goes!

Ten things I like about myself:

1. I'm a good listener
2. I'm compassionate
3. I can organize or reorganize a closet or other space with the best of them
4. I'm a creative problem solver
5. I love dogs
6. I enjoy my own company and am able to be alone
7. My writing
8. I enjoy diversity among my friends and others
9. I'm willing to take risks
10. I'm a good photographer

Next?

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Say goodnight, Santa

Or is it Shepherd? This is my latest Christmas decoration, a gift this year from my friend Kathy. I LOVE this decoration. If you don't already know this about me, I have this thing about sheep. I think they're cute, adorable, irresistable (and yes, I know, they're dumb and smelly), and I collect them. Kathy and I were doing some shopping before Christmas when we both saw this, and she very kindly indulged me with the gift of this unique decoration. I don't know how to explain why it is that this motif of shepherd in santa hat, caring for his sheep, so warms my heart, but I just fell in love with it (don't you just love the wee lamb in his arms?). I hadn't taken a picture of it before Christmas to post with my other decoration pictures, but it's time to pack Christmas away for this year (all two items, LOL), so I needed to seize the moment and take a picture of my guy and his sheep. Here they are.

Monday, January 09, 2006

memory triggers

Let me see if I can explain this. Back in the days when I had a lawn to cut, I used to enjoy getting on my mower and spending the hour and a half it usually took to cut the grass. Even in the heat and humidity (of which I am not a fan) the time offered an opportunity to think, ponder, mull, or in some manner engage the little gray cells, sometimes productively, sometimes not.

On one such grass-cutting occasion my mind was massaging an interpersonal situation at the point where careful navigation around a small fruit tree was required. No, I did not take out the fruit tree. Rather, the act of navigating those particular turns, coupled with the content of my thoughts, became permanently fused. Every time I cut the grass following that intial foray into those thoughts, when I got to that same part of the yard where I had to cut around the tree I always recalled the people and the scenario that had been on my mind on that previous occasion. Every time. The same scenario.

I thought of all this today as I drove around a particular curve in the road. An old thought replayed, just as it had a year and a half ago when it first was on my mind as I drove that curve, and has replayed ever since.

Does this ever happen to you? What is it about our minds that a place, or an action in a place (funny how both of these involve curves and being behind a wheel) can become associated with a thought such that whatever is in the mind becomes permanently associated with the place? It's almost as though the unconscious and the conscious connect and a linkage is formed. It doesn't just happen during a seemingly mindless routine. I spend far more time at the kitchen sink washing dishes than I do driving around that curve, and yet there are no recurring thought patterns that emerge during that action. So what is it? Are there levels of thinking that equate to altered states? Is there a biochemical event going on? I haven't a clue. I know only that it's a curious thing to me, and I needed something new to write on the blog, so I thought I would mention it!

Anything interesting happening in your world?

Saturday, January 07, 2006

the book of daniel

Okay, I need to get this off my chest, or perhaps I should say off my chasuble! I can poke fun at my Church and the foibles of faith with the best of 'em, and the name of my blog is no accident. I do so with reverence and regard for the serious nature of faith and spirituality. I suppose that Friday night's debut of the new TV show "The Book of Daniel," should be taken with a grain of salt, tongue in cheek and all that. But... the handling of what are very real issues in people's lives, and in the life of my Church (homosexuality, alzheimer's, substance abuse, marital fidelity, relational issues, women's ordination, embezzlement, bigotry...) was so flip that all of these things were trivialized. Any of these concerns could have been the focus of a single episode and dealt with honestly and sensitively, and with humor, but they were all tossed into one as though it were the only shot the writers had to take a stab at them. There was no real angst, no depth to the dilemmas being faced, no evidence of respect for appropriate boundaries and the challenges presented by them. The only really honest encounter was between a couple who were afraid to get married, and who, through conversations with the priest, came to the realization that they didn't have to get married. Even Jesus gave a "thumbs up" to that outcome, which was spot on. An opportunity to look at faith in the context of a clergy family in contemporary times has been wasted.

The show consultants could also have done a better job getting the technical aspects of liturgy and a priest's life right: a bishop doesn't wear one liturgical color and the priest another: the Nicene Creed isn't led from behind the altar, and the priest isn't called "Reverend."

Okay, I'm done now. Back to our regularly scheduled reality.

Friday, January 06, 2006

waist deep in the big muddy

Prompted by an entry about failure on a friend's blog, I've been reflecting on challenges and perserverence. I am what I refer to as "technically challenged." The nuts and bolts of technology are a mystery to me, and even though I understand concepts pretty easily, getting from A to K can stymie me (I can usually find my way from A to B, but not always!).

Getting my web site going is the ongoing hassle of my days. Even when I'm not responsible for the technical "big picture," the little things that do fall within my purview can sometimes loom like mountains. I can feel overwhelmed quickly, panic can set in, and I am soon paralyzed. I'm tired of it, tired of getting stuck in the big muddy. So I have determined that I will perservere. I am willing to ask for help, but sometimes the answers I get aren't always helpful. Out of necessity I am practicing the art of how to "keep on keeping on."

So far, it's working. Because of perserverence I overcame a challenge that has held me up for several days. I made a breakthrough.

I'm still in the big muddy. I need to make a decision about the technical oversight of my web site, and there are pros and cons to whichever path I choose. But either way I have momentum working in my favor, and as long as I keep on the water will eventually become knee deep, then ankle deep, and before long I'll be on dry land, ready to dance a jig. (Thank goodness I already know how to do that!)

Beats being trendy...

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

my Christmas miracle!

Sorry this is long, but it’s a bit complicated. Here’s the deal:

My Church has a great pension plan for clergy (and lay employees, too!). It’s particularly great if you’re employed by the Church, which I ceased to be when I left my job serving three congregations last summer. Taking the leap of faith to leave that position to start my own business doing creative things also put at risk my ongoing participation in the pension plan. To benefit, clergy have to be engaged in “active” ministry to pay into the plan, and to recoup benefits at the time of retirement. Active ministry is traditionally understood as parish work, school or hospital chaplaincy, or some other typical form of ministry. There IS a provision for us non-traditional folks to be granted what is called an extension of ministry, granted by one’s canonical bishop (the one who oversees the diocese in which I work and am “registered to vote”).

After attending a conference earlier in the fall sponsored by the pension group and revisiting my recent vocational decisions, I decided that I needed to request an extension of ministry from my bishop. I wrote to him in late October making that request, but didn’t expect a positive response since he is fairly traditional in his view of what constitutes ministry. If he said no, it would mean that I would have to relocate to another diocese where I could find a bishop willing to grant the extension. Once granted, the extension is permanent and portable, which means that regardless of where I am, I can move to another diocese and still have my extension. If my own bishop said yes, then it would be feasible to stay in TN. (Reasons for doing that have their own set of complicated circumstances!)

When I returned home from my Christmas visit with my family there was a letter from the bishop among my mail. When I opened it I couldn’t help but notice that it was brief, and I assumed that it contained the anticipated “no.” I almost didn’t read it. Fortunately, I did, because my bishop said YES to the extension! I met with him this afternoon and got his signature on the form that makes this official, which is why I waited to post about this.

This takes such a huge load of concern off my shoulders, I just can’t tell you what a relief I feel. What a wonderful holiday gift, and a blessing from God to encourage and strengthen what I am doing. Anyone want to join me in a loud, “Amen!!!?” I’ll even settle for a “yeeeeehaaaaaaaa!”

Now if only I could get the web site functioning, but I'm working on that!

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

one girl's trendy dog

Poor Dooley, my wee one. Something clogged up the fur between the pads of one of his paws and it was irritating him to the point that he'd licked his skin raw! The resident caretakers got him cleaned up and dressed the wound (Jayne, you would be proud!) with antibiotic ointment, a bandage, wrap, and then a sock to keep it all intact. Ha! The little rascal had other ideas. We were mainly concerned that he would just keep on licking (which he has, he's compulsive that way), but a good night's sleep and a lazy day yesterday has made a difference. The sock, which I think he wore for about ten minutes, is a Christmas one with dogs on it. Just another trendy member of the family!

Monday, January 02, 2006

Who, me? Trendy?

This cracks me up. I've been having weight issues during the last year, and while home for Christmas reverted to wearing my sweatpants on all occasions because everything else was too uncomfortable. A couple of days after Christmas I decided to check out the shops near where mom lives, especially Chico's, which was the closest and where I have had success before. Not this time! pitiful selection, and even the sweats on sale were $50! I don't think so!

So I decided I would hold out for the next available trip to Walmart, but while wandering about the shops Ken suggested we look in one to see if they had any pants. The first jeans I saw on a rack at the front of the store were for men, it turned out, and the woman at the counter pointed out that there was a table with women's jeans on sale toward the back of the store. I thanked her for her guidance, and then she proceeded to add, "but you probably won't like them, they're trendy." Um, excuse me? Let me offer you a course in customer service 101. Don't assume you know what I like, what I want, or what I can afford. (Think "Pretty Woman," LOL) She went on to make several other comments that just dug her hole a bit deeper, and I realize that part of her effort was to be helpful, but in short, she blew it! (We'll forget the fact that I couldn't actually afford the $242.00 jeans, LOL! )

From then on there were regular self-references to my trendiness--"I think I'll have the seven-onion soup for lunch, because after all, that's what trendy people eat." Come on, confess, l know that trendy is one of the first words you all would use to describe me!

Ta, darlings!

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Happy New Year!

Well, it's been a mixed bag of a weekend thus far. Got home to find some good news in my mail (great news, in fact, but I'll save that for another post), and today had hoped to work like a demon to get the web site close to productivity. NOT! I can't make heads or tails of the software (geesh), and though I have downloaded the documentation haven't had a chance to sort through it to find out if it will answer my questions. A call to tech support landed me with someone who obviously wasn't happy about working on a holiday, and he was no help. Oyoyoy. Now to decide if I just want to call it a day or keep plugging! Maybe if I close my eyes and imagine myself in front of mom's fireplace that will help. Care to join me? I'll also pour you whatever your drink of preference is. Ahhhhh, I feel better already...
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