Thursday, December 31, 2009

this page turned with gladness

Don't take this personally, 2009, but I am oh, so glad to see you go. It's not your fault, you were simply the vehicle by which we measured the days that failed to live up to our hopes, dreams and expectations. That may make me sound a bit negative, but I prefer to see it as realistic. I call 'em as I see 'em. This year has pummeled us with hurts and disappointments, and catapulted us into hard, thin times. To hell with building character. Character is no match for the need to feel loved, the desire to be successful, or the benefit of a life intact. Character doesn't pay the bills or heal a broken heart. And for the record, it's a challenge to work toward paying bills when your heart is broken. Just sayin'.

But lest you think that all I want to do is spit on the year let me counter that impression with what I DO celebrate.
  • There's McKinlee. Yes, she's still peeing every 2o minutes, but we had a run of luck not long ago when she went three days without an accident. Yay, McKinlee!!! Turns out that if you're mindful of her wee bladder you can prevent a few of those puddles by taking her out regularly. I know, this is obvious. She's a love, that little girl. Full of energy, cute as a button, occasionally cuddly and always ready to love on you. Yeah, we're going to keep her.
  • There's Junior and Trisha. They are the bright spot of our life and a breath of promise. Love those two to pieces and so, so grateful that they are my family.
  • There's Epiphany. There are still a whole lot of challenges ahead for this little church, but we did some good and momentous things in 2009. We are finding our compass, which is like having our own personal sheepdog to keep us where we need to be. That's sort of a biblical metaphor if you think about it.
  • There's my expanded blog world and the people I have come to know through it. RevGals has been an anchor of stability and a web of connection. Several of those amazing women have become staples of my grounding and the glimpses they offer into their lives and ministry encourage and console me. Through them I found others: Kim, Diane and Cake Wrecks, to name a few.
  • There's a collection of TV shows that have distracted me and made me laugh or offered me brain food. Reruns of "Burn Notice" are on as I type. How can you not love a series whose hero asks his girlfriend, "Fee, do you have any explosives?" and she replies, "I'll pretend you didn't ask me that."
My point is this. The year might have been crap. No, that would be Crap. But I continue to laugh, love, hope and have positive thoughts. And occasionally I get some things done that I set out to do. My prayer is that 2010 will prove more edifying, satisfying, and pleasant. And if I'm really lucky I'll overcome whatever gets in the way of writing thank you notes.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

on the mend!

After blogging yesterday I returned to bed for the rest of the day, getting up in time for most of NCIS and the Kennedy Center Honors before Nyquil and a return engagement under the covers. This morning my lungs feel clearer and my congestion is leaving room to breathe. But enough sick talk!

There is no telling what the day ahead holds. I still have half of our Christmas cards to send out (I am beyond embarrassed that it has taken so long to get this done), so there is always that task. There's a book I'd like to get back to. There's always cleaning. And filing. Grin. There are thank you notes. I used to be so good about that and for some reason I have turned into a total derelict in that department. I need to make some Pampered Chef calls to schedule some shows. Anyone? If I feel well enough later and it isn't raining I'd love to take Juliet for a walk. She's been deprived these last several days, and she's eager for her stroll through the 'hood. Me too.

Right now I'm planning to enjoy some coffee and consider my options. Make a list. Check it twice. At least. Cross things OFF the list! And I think I'll start with a thank you note or two. Yeah, that's what I'll do.

Have a great one!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

still down and out

Slept this morning until morning was close to being gone. At midday yesterday I thought I was over the hump--coughing subsided and congestion eased, but then a few hours later it was all back with a vengeance. I'm drawing on various medicinal combatants for help and will simply have to ride this out. Not fun!

During the lull in symptoms I did, however, get a lot done just sitting at my desk chair and going through stacks and stacks of "stuff" on my desk. It is now almost clear, which does my psyche and my soul good.

In the midst of this cleanup I also decided that it's time to purge the collection of cooking and scrapbook/papercraft magazines that I have hoarded. There are lots of ideas and projects and materials and patterns that I have kept on hand with the firm conviction that there would be a time down the road when I would "get to it." When I turned 50 I confronted the reality that measured against my "to date" track record, this would not be the case at all. It's okay. Dreams with a small 'd' can be let go. The space freed up by the purge will improve the feng shui in this house, and we can certainly benefit from that.

In the meantime it's tea, tissues and tenderness.

Monday, December 28, 2009

inevitable



I've been lucky. I haven't had a down and out episode of being sick since Christmas of 2004, when I came down with strep on Christmas Eve. That was not a happy time. I was serving four small churches in the Sewanee area and commuting from my home 90 miles away. Some friends in Monteagle had offered me their house to stay in over the holidays since they would be gone, and allowed me to have the dogs there. When I realized the degree to which I was becoming ill I managed to get help from a colleague to take one of my Christmas Eve services that evening, but then when my own duty was done I loaded the dogs in the car and drove the familiar road back home so that I could wake up Christmas morning sick in my own bed. It was a smart choice.

But that was then. This Christmas I woke with a bit of a scratchy throat and a mild cough, but over subsequent days the throat and cough have become worse. This morning nasal congestion descended. Such fun, during holiday times, to be laid low. Fortunately I am not utterly miserable. I can be about the house and sit up and participate in conversation. But my head hurts, and my throat is raw from coughing, and I don't have much energy. Bah!

I'm not really surprised to find myself sick after the pace of the weeks leading up to the holiday, and I will ride this out as a good sport. Still. I'm oh, so mindful of my friend Kim's desire to share the love, and not the germs!
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Saturday, December 26, 2009

the day in pictures

How to hold the attention of six dogs (Emma is checking)...

Trisha and friends

Puppies are growing up! Remember Emma (chocolate lab)?, and there's McKinlee, 11 months old

Ken is excited to open a gallon-size can of peanuts from Rigel. This dog really knows his dad.

Tex and Scooter during a lull in activity. Christmas outfits for all the dogs next year!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

celebrating being

Y'all know that I am a dog person. The kids arrived last night with their three beloveds, so for the next few days we are a household of four adults and six--yes, six!--dogs! This clip was sent to me by my friend Yolande, and it is too wonderful not to share. Moved me to tears! Enjoy every moment of it, and celebrate being.

Monday, December 21, 2009

in search of

It all began with a last name. It was a friend's last name, and that faint, tinkling bell of memory hinted at connection. Didn't I have an ancestor with the same last name as my friend? Might we be related?

In due time I pulled out my files, read and reread material once familiar and subsequently blurred by time. I felt again the itch, the tug of interest and curiosity of lives that came before and shaped the lives that in due time would shape my life. Ancestors.

I stumbled upon a couple of interesting items, one that when I first learned it held no meaning. Another was brilliantly new and wonderful. My first and middle names are Anne McKinne. It is my mother's name, and it was her mother's name, and by the time you count the generations back to the first Ann(e) McKinne it turns out that there are seven of us. Ann (without an 'e') Galphin married Barna McKinne in 1810. It turns out that Barna's mother, Elizabeth, is the one whose maiden name is the same as the friend mentioned above. It turns out that Elizabeth is buried in the church cemetery of St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Augusta, and that an early incarnation of that church included a window given in her memory.

With those two items of interest tucked into my mind Ken and I ventured to St. Paul's on Sunday while we were in Augusta. The present church, shown here, was built after what is known as the great fire of Augusta in 1916. The interior of the church is beautiful--open and airy with gorgeous appointments and windows. We're told it is a close replica of its predecessor, but less dark. The structure before that was also lost to fire, as was the one before it. There was no chance of finding the window. The grave would be another matter. We learned that until 1820 when a cemetery was created, St. Paul's was the lone graveyard for the people of Augusta. It looks sparse now because bodies were relocated to the new Magnolia Cemetery after its opened.

Elizabeth McKinne died in 1809, and we had been told that many of the grave markers had deteriorated over time, and some were now illegible. I began my search among those, locating a chained off area with McKinne names that were discernible. Not there. I continued to move through the yard, finding at last the monument that marked the location of my great (x5) grandmother, Elizabeth. It is pictured here with one indicating the place of burial for one of her sons. Hers is the one to the right with the egg-shaped, finial sort of thing. Ahhh. Success. The inscription on the marker leads me to believe she rests in peace. A part of me rests knowing where she is remembered, and giving thanks to those who loved her then who make it possible for me all these years later.

Blessings upon you, Miss Elizabeth.

Friday, December 18, 2009

with seconds to go

I am waiting for one item of clothing to come out of the dryer and then I am packed and ready to be on the road! We had an eleventh hour crisis of dog care for the weekend, but all is well and resolved, and we will drop them off locally and be on our way.

I hope you all have a lovely weekend. We are looking forward to ours!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

edging toward christmas

Although the tree has been up since Thanksgiving weekend it wasn't until last night that ornaments finally took their place on the branches. It is always a joy to me to unwrap these gems of memory. I noticed for the first time last night how dominated the collection is by sheep and dogs, though I shouldn't be surprised! Pictured here are a few of my favorites.

The angel is from my friend Kathy, who died a few years ago. It was her last Christmas, and I had visited her in St. Louis to help with shopping and wrapping. She gave angel ornaments to a number of friends that year to thank us for being her angels in so many ways during her illness. This one will always go on my tree. Next is that rather mischievous-looking sheep in mid flight. A dogsitter from my days in Sewanee gave me that one year to thank me for the privilege of spending time with my beloveds. I adore the border collie asleep on the rug, a dear reminder of Brenna, who died while I was in Sewanee. She was a sweetheart who loved to snuggle without encroaching too much on personal space, if you know what I mean. Except when it stormed, in which case she made every effort to become one with the nearest warm body. Absent a body, the bathtub was her next choice. The last whimsical critter was from Mom, who knows well how to indulge my sheep interest.

This morning I woke to the sound of loud banging and then a whining and whirring that one associates with an electrical tool. Ken was dismantling the old mantel at the fireplace to accommodate a reproduction antique setup that I have had for several years. Nothing like tackling that sort of project a week before Christmas! I had deferred decorating the mantel because he had indicated that he "might" take care of this, and sure enough, the wait was worthwhile!

Today is full of errands in anticipation of a trip to Augusta this weekend for a Christmas shower for Junior and Trisha. Everyone is invited to bring an ornament or Christmas decoration for them to hang on their tree, the first for both of them. I think that is such a fun idea for a shower! Thinking about the shower is what prompted me to post ornaments today in the first place!Anyway, we're looking more and more like Christmas here. Today I will also wrap some presents to put under the tree. There is a lone one there now that has proven to be an excellent training tool for the dogs. Every time they get near to it they are reprimanded, and the discipline is working. At least so far!

Blessings on your day. I'll try to sneak in one last post before the weekend!


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Wednesday, December 16, 2009

scrambling

Our inventory of computer peripherals has gone through some transition. We had two computers, two working printers, and one printer on standby. Then my printer bit the dust. I used Ken's. Then Ken's computer got zapped by a virus and his printer couldn't be accessed. The standby printer had been nonfunctional for so long that the ink had dried up. It was also, in the context of technology, obsolete. Spend the money on ink cartridges and hope for the best? I opted to use a gift card from Best Buy to buy a new printer. Merry Christmas to me!

The good news is that I can now print again. The good news is that I can now catch up on all the things that have been awaiting printing. The bad news is that I am overwhelmed with such tasks and the followup details that attend those print jobs! Eeeek!

So here I am to apologize for my lack of attention to this blog, and the lack of time to visit (never mind comment) on the blogs of others. Soon! Soon! In the meantime enjoy these days of Advent preparation, and may your weather be bearable.

Monday, December 14, 2009

once a chore, now a choice

I mentioned previously that I used to have to walk the dogs at least twice a day for their exercise and relief when our yard lacked containment. During that time I came to enjoy the benefits of those walks and watching the neighborhood's transitions through the seasons. I thought that once our invisible fence was in and the dogs could utilize the yard fully I would still take them out for occasional walks. Never happened.

Of late (the last several months) Juliet has disregarded the boundaries of the fence and taken off for strolls through the neighborhood. Not a good thing. In the morning I would go out with her in the yard to keep an eye on her, make sure she took care of business and then bring her back into the house. I know this option didn't satisfy her, but she was safe, which was my main concern.

More recently I thought she would benefit from walking to aid her with what comes naturally (if slowly). And God knows the exercise would be good for me. So we have begun to walk. I started the twice a day routine, but evening walks are a challenge to me, who likes to settle and "tuck in" after dinner. Now we walk once, but we make it count. Thanks to the generosity of my friend Janet I have a pedometer to record distance, and I have experimented with routes through the neighborhood to find tracks that will take us two miles.

As noted previously, as well, walks have become an opportunity for nostalgic reflection, and it was through those experiences that choosing to walk emerged. I actually look forward to them (except on days like today--cold and damp), and at this Christmas season especially it's fun to see the lights (when I DO walk at night) and decorations. I have also discovered that the longer walk is essential to the endorphin experience for me, and that contributes to the pleasure of 1) being with Juliet, 2) enjoying the neighborhood 3) having time alone to contemplate whatever might wander into my consciousness and 4) the physical benefits. As for the latter, I do believe that a pair of pants are, in fact, a bit looser. Phew! I don't think I'll drop three sizes between now and April (Junior and Trisha's wedding), but finally I am doing my part to get myself there.

Right now I am going to enjoy the remains of my coffee, have a little time with Ken, then put on my walking shoes.
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Saturday, December 12, 2009

the dilemma of integrity

This whole business with Tiger Woods has got me thinking. But first let me come clean. I'm a big fan of Tiger Woods. I watch golf because of Tiger Woods. I love his impish grin. Something about him simply captures and holds my attention. Maybe it's that he always wears a red shirt on the last day...

A week ago I would have said that I admired what I assumed was his integrity. And then the car crash, rumors, confessions and not only tabloid but major news sources couldn't resist writing about a private matter over which the public (and media) seems obsessed. "OMG, he's human!" Ah, yes, he is, and always has been. " He messed up!" Indeed he did. How human of him! "How could he cheat on that glamorous and adoring wife?" I won't even begin to respond to that one specifically.

So here's the thing. Integrity. That's what I've been thinking about. My dictionary tells me that integrity has to do with wholeness, entirety, unbrokenness, moral exactness, perfection. While there are indeed people who maintain a level of integrity by such a definition, no one is perfect. We all have flaws, and those flaws litter different areas of our lives. At what point does one's brokenness diminish the virtue of integrity to the the extent that such a label cannot, or does not, apply to him or her? Does it matter that poor choices which lead to unacceptable behavior is exacted privately versus publicly? Is integrity context specific, and who or what determines whether or not one might be considered to be a person of integrity?

As a culture we also have sacred cows of moral expectations. One of them relates to the violation of sexual boundaries, including adultery. But as a culture we are also fairly forgiving when that particular line is crossed. Like it or not, adultery occurs frequently, and I would venture to guess that almost every family has someone on the family tree whose indiscretions are whispered (and yes, my own family includes them). The sin, if you will, is commonplace, and visits all manner of individuals from the rich and famous to the lowest class known. It is also a private matter. Though it can affect others beyond the transgressor and the transgressed, adultery hurts most where trust is betrayed. It is for Tiger and Elin, his wife, to navigate the road that can lead to the restoration of trust between them, and heal whatever other elements in their relationship may have contributed to this breach.

I don't hold Tiger blameless, but I am also very aware from my own and the experiences of others in a multitude of situations that it is not for anyone to judge. Unless we are walking in his shoes, we can't know the life he lives or the private sacrifices he makes for the privilege of fame. I am sad for Tiger, for Elin, for the others involved that any of this has taken place, privately, and I lament the public thrashing he has received.

Tiger has chosen to withdraw from his professional life for an indefinite period of time to tend to his family. He compromised his two loves: Elin and golf. He is paying a dear price. Oddly enough, that, to me, is a sign of integrity.

Friday, December 11, 2009

friday five: holy help

At RevGals Sophia writes: It's the last week of the semester here so I offer another very simple Friday Five in honor of the past, present, and eschatological dimensions of this powerful season of the church year....

Please share five ways that God has come to you (your family or friends, your church or workplace, our world) in the past year, that God is coming to you right now, and/or that you are longing and looking for God to come.

This last year has been one that has seriously challenged my coping skills. I’m faced with behaviors of and choices by others than run counter to my norms and experiences, as well as what I have learned, integrated and affirmed about living a healthy life (in all the senses of that word). Even though I have resources for dealing with these challenges I have felt isolated and alone more than is comfortable or consoling. God’s presence has not been overwhelming, nor has it been detectable through the dusk of my days. Like the sun on a cloudy day, however, I do know that God is there. The connection has simply been weak (and we won’t go “there,” just now, to discuss how to interpret that!).

Even so, there have been glimpses of divine presence that have helped me to limp along. Those have been:

1) My goddaughter. She is a source of amazing spiritual wisdom and insight, and has offered guidance and accountability that has helped push me through stagnancy and break into the light.

2) Dreams. One very profound dream contained images of Christ’s life and death and involved a player named Rami whose name, I learned, means “loving.”

3) The icon-writing workshop I took last spring. That was a week of grace and growth spiritually, sacramentally, and creatively.

4) Breath Prayer, offering me a way to include Christ differently in my quest for peace and wholeness.

5) A holy trinity of women are helping me to heal some old wounds that interfere with the health of my marriage. These professionals—a pastoral counselor, nurse practitioner and physical therapist—have opened the door to hope on a path I thought I was traveling alone. Their singular talents are gift enough, but the combined effect of what they offer incarnates salvation. This might just be the greatest gift God has bestowed this year.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

one liners (it's that kind of day)

  • It’s windy as all get-out this morning, and fortunately the wreaths on the windows are still in place (though they sometimes swing to and fro).
  • With all that I am not doing this Advent/Christmas season I still have too much to do and not enough time to do it.
  • Getting a functional printer in this house needs to move to number one on the priority list.
  • I wish I could harness McKinlee’s energy to help me accomplish the litany that is my “to do” list.
  • The sun is shining!
  • I wish Ken would move his bicycle out of the pantry.
  • I have developed a passion for dark chocolate-covered pretzel sticks—keep me away from Target!
  • Today is national pastry day (thanks, MJ!).
  • I’d rather be sewing.
  • I would love a grilled swiss and pastrami on rye for lunch.
  • We still don’t have ornaments on the Christmas tree.
  • The liturgical calendar in my office is still showing November.
  • Will someone be sure to get me a “Pooped Puppies” calendar for Christmas?
  • I’m offering special incentives for Pampered Chef hosts in January: who’s game to help me get my PC business back up and running again (catalog shows are also helpful)?
  • I love Advent!
  • I wore a necklace yesterday for the first time since I can remember.
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Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Overslept! Gulping coffee, Jules only gets to tour the back yard, and the fastest shower on record. Later!

Monday, December 07, 2009

rounding second base...



...and heading to third! It was a very full weekend, and the week ahead shows no signs of letting up the pace.

Saturday was the church's spaghetti dinner fundraiser for the International students at our local university, with money raised to create an endowed scholarship for the students. The university doesn't have a designated scholarship at this time specifically for International students. In spite of the fact that our volunteer coordinator was very sick all week and was not able to be there, the rest of us rallied together in our collective state of oblivion to make decisions as well as make things up as we went along. It all went very well! The kitchen crew worked out a system for getting food on the plate, and others of us floated between busing tables, offering to get drinks, assembling "to go" orders, and in general being genial hosts. We raised about $1400, not a bad effort for our little band of faithful, and considering that the SEC championship and other "critical" football games were in progress during the time frame of our dinner. We're also very pleased that out of the nearly 200 meals served, 70 of them were donated to a population of homeless families that are in residence at a local campground. Supporting one cause went to support a second cause--how better could it get?

Sunday was busy with church in the morning, walking Jules, heading out to an afternoon party, and then me scoping out possible finds at a local store offering 20% off my total purchase as a valued customer. It was worth the stop. I picked up a couple of items that were already half off, as well as scoring a tie for Ken suitable for wearing during Advent. He was tickled.

Today Ken and I will return unused food items purchased at Sam's for the spaghetti dinner, make a visit to a parishioner recently home from a hospital stay, and then I will get busy on some administrative tasks that never seem to make it to the top of the ever-changing litany of priorities on my to do list. Tomorrow I have an all-day clergy event, and Wednesday we begin a new bible study series. Somewhere between now and then I need to dust off notes of old and refresh my memory, as well as do some additional preparation for that class.

Somewhere in between I also need to figure out what is wrong with my printer and get it fixed. Ken's computer has been wonked by some sort of bug that tells him that every file on his computer is infected and won't function again unless he purchases some anti-virus software. We know this is a fake, but that's besides the point since nothing on the computer is operable. Which means I can't print anything from his computer, either. So annoying.

Glad to have a bit of time this morning to get back to the blog and to try to catch up with what everyone else has been doing. Cheers!

Friday, December 04, 2009

friday five: do nothing

At RevGals Sally writes:
I am reading a wonderful little book for Advent it's title: "Do nothing Christmas is Coming!"

So this weeks Friday Five is simple.

List Five things you won't be doing to prepare for Christmas.

1) For the first time in thirty years I won’t be sending a Christmas letter.

2) Because of financial hardship we won’t be buying many presents: just for the kids (two) and grandchildren (2).

3) I won’t be baking cookies.

4) I won’t be making snow angels (this assumes that we don’t get any snow, a 99% accurate assumption)

5) I won’t be drinking eggnog.

And while you are doing nothing play the bonus, put your feet up and listen to your favourite Advent Carol, and post it or a link to it...

Like many, I adore O come, O come Emmanuel, but I have a special fondness for Comfort, comfort ye my people. At the time of a spiritual renewal in my life that led to my baptism, I lived just blocks away from the carillon tower of the chapel at Trinity College in Hartford, CT. I could hear the bells easily, and this is one of the tunes that was played regularly that Advent. Hearing the music evokes that time in my life that was full of spiritual stirring and seeking, as well as other memories of that place and time. It will forever be special to me.



Simple!

Thursday, December 03, 2009

listen and enjoy

When I first heard this setting by Bobby McFerrin of the 23rd psalm I was blown away. More than that, it sents shivers down my spine. It still does.

I hope you enjoy this. I find it to be wonderfully moving and meditative.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

being a sponge

That's my baby up there in the blue, heading to a landing at Fort Gordon during a recent training exercise with his National Guard unit (photo from the Augusta Chronicle). I'm proud of him. Prouder than you can imagine. And this from a pacifist Mom.

I've just listened to a segment of NPR's "On Point," where a collection of knowledgeable people discussed--not debated--discussed, the dilemma faced by President Obama in making a decision about US strategy in Afghanistan. I was impressed not only by the depth of knowledge of the guests on the program, but the comprehension of the events of our engagement in wars of the "recent" past (at least back to Korea). To me, they sounded like they really know what they are talking about. Better yet, they didn't counterpoint one another, but were sharing observations and responding to questions from a place of knowledge rather than agenda. I listen carefully when people talk like that.

I also lean toward reading and am influenced in my thinking by the likes of Thomas Friedman, and Greg Mortenson's story in Three Cups of Tea. I referred to that in an earlier post. The impact of Three Cups of Tea continues: I pay far closer attention to news about what is going on in Pakistan and Afghanistan, and my views on that region are more precise as a result.

To offer some context: as noted above I am a pacifist (and was a registered conscientious objector in the early 80's, at a time when registering women for the draft became a topic of public conversation); I tend toward perspectives that emerge from issues of justice and compassion; I value diplomacy as a means to resolving conflict; my husband is retired Army, and my step-son is fourth generation airborne and spent five years in the Rangers. The latter opened up a new world of understanding and insight when I married Ken, and though I am firm in my personal convictions when it comes to war, a balance in my thinking exists that probably had no chance of seeing light without the exposure or such close proximity to a portion of the military machine. I believe in the draft, a view not popular with the mother of my nephew, a sophomore in college.

I have not been happy about the news that Obama intends to send more troops to Afghanistan. My view on this stems from my own pacifistic perspective as well as from what I have learned from some of my preferred reading. But I also listen to Ken, whose military history and shaping offers another point of view. And I listen to programs like "On Point" to find a way to a more thorough and comprehensive understanding of the issues involved, and the consequences intended and known. I'm trying to soak it up and find as objective an opinion as is possible given my context, my capacity to listen without judging, and my desire to understand points of view different from my own.

I confess that it is a challenge. I want my president's decisions to prove warranted and achieve the desired results. I want stability for the people of Pakistan and Afghanistan. I don't want further loss of life at the hands of the US military. Any life. I want our nation's relationship with other nations to deepen with understanding, cooperation and respect. I want the governments of Pakistan and Afghanistan to be supported in their efforts to respond to the agenda of the Taliban (how's that for a polite statement?). I want US policy to be guided by the desire to help those countries find the most peaceful way possible to prosperity. I don't want Junior's scheduled deployment fourteen months from now to be moved up. I don't want the cost of war to burden our citizenry any further. I know that doing nothing is not an effective means toward achieving anything positive.

Being a sponge is hard on the little gray cells and a heart that is torn. Maybe if I focus on what color sponge to be the burden won't feel quite so heavy. I'm leaning toward pink. That's a little out of my comfort zone.

Monday, November 30, 2009

monday miscelany

Another musing from the night: Do you ever wonder if there's something significant about looking at the clock (digital) and seeing your birthdate? It can happen twice a day, though for many the odds are low for actually seeing it twice. This morning at 5:13 I looked at the clock and there it was. There's a 1 in 720 chance of this happening, but it seems to happen to me regularly. Just wondering if anyone else has this experience.

* * * * * * * * *

Ken's birthday was Saturday, and though that day wasn't the best on record I pulled off a hit with a surprise dinner party for him on Sunday. And wasn't he cooperative? He went to buy wine on Saturday and called me from the store to ask what he should pick up, unaware that he was playing right into my hands with suggestions about what some of our friends like to drink. Heh heh heh.

We had a yummy meal of pork tenderloin a la Pampered Chef; scalloped potatoes in the crock pot; a seven-layer salad, french bread, appetizer and dessert brought by guests; and a thrilling final 30 seconds of the Titans football game that Ken had been watching when everyone arrived. (The Titans had possession with 33 seconds left in the game, and in the last 6 seconds on the fourth down scored a touchdown to win. Phew!) But best of all we had a happy birthday boy, laughed a lot and enjoyed good company. A fun night.

* * * * * * * * *

Spaghetti dinner this weekend. I'm heading to the church this morning to finish painting the bathrooms. At some point of consciousness during the night I felt overwhelmed by all that needs to be done for this event, but in fact it's pretty much under control. A few details to take care of, but otherwise the committees are taking care of their end and all is well. I simply need to remain conscientious about those details!

* * * * * * * * *

Indulge me for a moment to brag on my vestry. At yesterday's meeting they:
  • Voted to submit a resolution for our diocese's annual convention in January encouraging the purchase of Bishops Blend coffee and teas to help support Episcopal Relief and Development. The makers of Bishops Blend 1) buy coffee from fair trade vendors and 2) give 15% of their profits to ERD to support those in need globally and locally. The resolution specifically requests that the diocesan office serve make a practice of serving BB.
  • When it came time to vote on the "fair share" request of the diocese to support its budget in 2010, our treasurer suggested and the vestry affirmed that we commit to more than the requested amount. The motion passed unanimously and enthusiastically.
My people rock!

It feels like my week is off to a good start. How about yours?

Sunday, November 29, 2009

appropos of nothing...

During a wakeful moment of the night I got to wondering... My preference is to sleep on my side (right or left will do), but I will hold my arms in different positions depending upon which side. When I sleep on my left side I tend to fold my arms across my chest. When I sleep on my right I am more likely to extend one arm and tuck the other under the pillow. Somehow or other, without making a conscious decision, I have determined that these positions are the most comfortable and conducive to letting the rest of my body relax and rest.

I never thought much about sleeping positions until Michael J. Fox was posed in one in the movie Back to the Future. His "top" arm was extended behind him, while the rest of his body faced forward.

What about you? What do you do with your arms while you sleep?

Saturday, November 28, 2009

new life

I'm not really sure when Advent begins technically. Thanksgiving marks the last feast day in the liturgical year, and the first Sunday of Advent begins the new cycle of the Church's walk of faith through the life and times and impact of Jesus. These in-between days of Friday and Saturday fall where, exactly? Friday might well stand outside of time, considering that many worship the altar of consumer enticements (not an indictment, simply an observation). I'll hedge my bets and refer to today as the Eve of Advent, which, in fact, it is. I suspect most people whose lives aren't influenced by having to prepare sermons and spiritually meaningful activities for others don't think of this time as a beginning, but this year I am very mindful of the concept of beginning. Or, more accurately, beginning again.

I am going to try, again, to improve my health habits. I find motivation in my friend Jayne's faithful commitment to healthier living, and having heard the testimony on Thanksgiving of one who has lost 26 pounds since August on Weight Watchers (and then there's Jules, who has also been successful on that program), I have good role models in this effort. I also have an accountability partner in my faithful canine, Juliet (above, right), who for various reasons has returned to the need to be walked a couple of times a day. She's not shy in letting me know that it's time to put on my walking shoes: she stands in front of me, raises her head and lets out a very vocal demand.

So yesterday we began anew with our walks, morning and evening. The morning walk followed the pattern of old, echoing the days before we had the invisible fence and I walked the dogs faithfully for their relief and pleasure. The morning route is always the same to minimize encountering vehicles bound for work. The evening route, however, varies. Last night as Juliet and I turned toward our old neighborhood I was overwhelmed by the nostalgia of earlier walks. The twice-daily walks of three years ago were born of necessity, but became for me an opportunity to enjoy the dogs without other distractions, and to entertain whatever thoughts might stray into the path of my consciousness. Those were also halcyon days of hope and possibility only barely strained by the weight of vocational, financial and family challenges. Hope and possibility are still present, but are often overshadowed by more urgent and pressing concerns.

To be visited by the pleasant ghosts of those previous journeys was bittersweet. I recognized the gift they were and can be again, now, at a time when such a gift is more than welcome. And I missed the companion who was part of those earlier forays through the neighborhood, my beloved Dooley. It is a comfort, in a way, to trace the paths of which he was a constant part, and to recall his peppy gait, happy expressions, and overflowing personality. I can feel rekindled the joy that he was in my life, and let the warmth of that fill my heart. I see in this remembrance, as well, an invitation to reclaim a ritual of peace and grounding. It is well and good to find motivation in the acts and successes of others, but it is better still to be empowered from wtihin by my own capacity of strength and resilience.

So I am marking today as a new beginning. It will have its bumps and jolts, its fits and starts, but the need and desire to be launched is greater than a desire to indulge the ease of inertia. It is time, literally, to put one foot in front of the other and move. Walks with the dogs never brought me back to the house the same person I was when we ventured forth. I can be satisfied, for now, to measure momentum one step at a time. Before I know it those steps will give way to strides, and with those strides I will cover ground I can only imagine now.

Juliet is waiting patiently. My future cannot afford to wait any longer.

Prayers for a blessed Advent.
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Friday, November 27, 2009

friday five: the crush

At RevGals Songbird invites our hearts to go pitty-patty on the subject of crushes. It's been awhile since my memory went down that lane!

1) Did you ever have a crush on a teacher?
Yes. He was my high school English teacher (junior year). He was good-looking, of course, but he was also kind, attentive (in the listening sense), and had a gentle manner. I also remember that his brother played for the New Orleans Saints. Way back when!

2) Who was your first crush?
Close to home, I honestly couldn't tell you. But in the celebrity world there was Bobby Sherman and Donny Osmond. Donny gets pooh-poohed a lot, but after seeing him on Dancing with the Stars I stand ready to affirm that my instincts were right about him. He's a decent, down to earth guy with a great sense of humor.

3) Have you ever given a gift to a crush?
Does throwing a set of love beads to Bobby Sherman on stage count?

4) Do you have a celebrity crush? (Around my house we call them TV boyfriends and girlfriends...)
Ah, now you're talking.
In the acting world: Richard Gere, way back when, but now he's so last year. I enjoy regular doses of Mark Harmon, and especially love the sheepish little smile that masks the affection he has for his team on NCIS. Deeper down, Tom Skerritt is my man. Ever since Picket Fences. The description of his looks as rugged come closer to reality as he ages, but I still find my heart skipping a beat when I see him (even when he plays a rogue).
In the music industry: Ty Herndon (country). Just watch his Steam video and tell me he's not hot.
5) Have you ever been surprised to find yourself the crushee?
A time or two, and sadly, the crusher was of no interest to me. Ah, such is life and love.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thanks







For each new morning with its light,
For rest and shelter of the night,
For health and food,
For love and friends,
For everything Thy goodness sends.
--Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882)










Happy Thanksgiving...

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

random meme: Thanksgiving theme

Meme stolen shamelessly from the Bug at Bug’s Eye View, who starts out by noting:

If it's Wednesday of a holiday week, it must be time for the Random Dozen Meme from "Lidna" at 2nd Cup of Coffee. If you want to participate just go to Linda's site to link up.

1. Are you sticking to traditional Thanksgiving foods this year, or are you being culinarily adventurous?
We’re not cooking this year! Thanks to an unladylike fall several weeks ago that landed me on my tookus (I have no clue how to spell that) and left me with significant pain in my butt, we are unable to follow through with our original plans to travel to Georgia to be with our good friends Jimmy and Barbara. Riding in the car is one of the most painful positions while recovering from this misfortune, and the trip is just too long to manage. We have been invited to friends’ here in town Thursday evening to join their family meal, so we will make a dish to take with us there. Some minor culinary adventure will be involved. (photo to the right: turkey day three years ago)

2. Tell me something concrete that you're thankful for. (Something you can literally touch, see, etc., not a concept like "hope.")
My Hoover Steam Vac. With three dogs and one still-needing-work-with-housebreaking-issues puppy, shampooing carpets is the most regular exercise I get. The Woolite Oxy Pet Cleaner is likewise my new best friend.

3. You knew the flip side was coming: Share about something intangible that you're thankful for.
I am very thankful for the new blogging connections I have made this last year. They have expanded my world, touched my heart, made me laugh, helped reignite dreams and affirmed aspects of my own being that sag from time to time. Hugs to you all!

4. Share one vivid Thanksgiving memory. It doesn't have to be deep or meaningful, just something that remains etched in your memory.
My favorite memory is of my Mom breaking out and doing the Charleston (or the Jitterbug, maybe?) in the kitchen while we were washing up after dinner.

5. What is one thing that you know beyond a shadow of a doubt is going to happen this Thanksgiving because it always does, year after year? I’ll forget to watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

6. Do your pets get any left-overs?
Not if I can help it! I have a pretty strict rule about not giving human food to the dogs.

7. Does your family pray before the big meal? If so, do you join hands while seated, stand, repeat a formal prayer or offer a spontaneous prayer? Who does the praying?
When I was growing up we always had Thanksgiving in New York (City) with my grandparents. If my memory is right and I’m not mixing up holidays, my grandfather always wrote out a prayer that recalled the events and people that he wanted especially to acknowledge. They were wonderful prayers (Mom, were any of those kept?). We also sang the Doxology as our grace, seated, holding hands. After my grandfather died (I was 17) I couldn’t sing the Doxology for the longest time without choking back tears.

8. Will you be watching football in the afternoon? If not, what will you be doing?
We may very well watch football, but not with any particular interest. I’m going to try to make some more tissue cozies if I can. I’ll also be preparing the dish that we’ll be taking with us to dinner that evening.

9. There are two distinct camps of people on this issue: How do you feel about oysters in the dressing/stuffing?
Blech!

10. Do you consider yourself informed about the first Thanksgiving?
I do, some of my ancestors were there and they took really good notes (just kidding about the notes).
This print, "The return of the Mayflower," hung over my grandmother's mantel when my mother was growing up, and it has hung over mine (or a wall in my home) since my grandmother had it reframed for me when I graduated from college. (The Mayflower was returning to England. Somehow we never heard about that in our history classes.)

11. Which variety of pie will you be enjoying?
I rarely eat pie until the next day! Apple is my pie of choice.

12. Do you feel for the turkey?? (This is a humorous throw back question related to the 12th question in another Random Dozen!)
I’d never really thought about it before, but probably not since I am predisposed to being a carnivore.

Blessings, one and all, for a joy-filled Thanksgiving weekend!
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in search of spaghetti


My church has finally latched onto a mission cause around which there is some energy and the desire to be involved. At least to some extent. There is a population of international students at a local university and we have decided to adopt them to help take the edge off of transitional dilemmas and challenges, offer them a home away from home, and let them know that someone besides their loved ones are interested in their well being.

There are several things that make sense about this relationship. For one thing it's not an overwhelmingly huge ministry for a small church with limited resources, both human and financial. For another, it's not your average ministry, and for whatever reason it doesn't show up on the radar of the larger churches in our area that would already have responded to this need. It's not exactly widows and orphans, but there is a family of four who had no bed for Mom and Dad to sleep on for the first couple of months that they were here. Needs come in all shapes and sizes. Initially a fundraiser for general purposes, the money raised will now be used to start a scholarship fund.

To help financially, we decided to host a spaghetti dinner fundraiser. Generally popular with the masses, this seemed a manageable event for our facilities and the interest and dedication of some of our reliable membership. We have a reasonable plan of execution to make it a success. That is, if all goes according to plan and as we all know, we plan, God laughs. It didn't help that I was out of town two out of three weeks that fell during a critical period in that execution. As a result, we are scrambling for donations of food so that our proceeds are maximal.

Pasta, anyone? We need about 80 pounds of it. And sauce. And meatballs. We think we've got the salad. We're going to make our own tea and the lemonade for wee folk is a drop in the bucket. Part of our problem is that we didn't have sufficient lead time between the idea of doing this and getting a date on the calendar (which has already been changed once). We are learning that businesses want four weeks notice for donation requests. We are also learning that at this time of years most businesses have maxed out their donation budget.

We are less than two weeks from our event. We will buy what we need if that is what we have to do, make appropriate notes for the second annual spaghetti dinner and highlight deadlines in bold, neon colors. But there is good news. Sixty tickets have been purchased for meals to go to a local campground where homeless families have taken refuge. A ministry to help one group of people offers an opportunity to serve another in need. I like that. A lot. And some of our volunteers have experience with dinners like this, and their wisdom is not only helpful but provides a sense of grounding (I'm trying to keep from going crazy tracking the details of this effort).

Once I post this blog entry I plan to take Juliet for a walk, grab a shower, and get back on the phone in an effort to secure some food. Prayers are welcome, as are checks to cover the cost of pasta and sauce. Or, if you're local, we can use some volunteers the day of the dinner (December 5) or some batches of cobbler for dessert. Or any combination of the above. Email me at epiphanytn@gmail.com to learn more about how you can help. No, I'm not averse to begging!

Monday, November 23, 2009

photographs and memories

Years ago my grandmother and I went through some boxes stored at Melrose where family pictures, albums, and letters had accumulated. We made attempts to identify everything and everyone in the pictures, and if she couldn't remember who they were, she was of a mind to toss them. I understood her thinking--I toss pictures, too, when the event or person in a picture can no longer be recalled or ceases to be meaningful. But I live in an era when photographs are abundant. The pictures in her collection, well, not so much.

Among the photographs was this one. Meet Miss Sue. My grandmother didn't know when the picture was taken, or where, but she remembered Miss Sue, a friend of the family. And that is all I know. But I adore this picture. Miss Sue is standing so gracefully and regally, even if posed, that I feel a desire to honor her memory if only to admire her in this moment. And that is, in fact, all I can do, since I know nothing about any other moments of her life. I don't know how she knew my grandmother's family. Neighbor? Church? Distant kin (my grandmother would have known that, so probably not)? Whatever her connection, having a photograph of her among the family's other prizes was warranted, so she must have been important to someone at some time.

I am awash in photographs. Since going digital most of them haven't been printed, and as I get older I wonder which of the segments of my life I want to spend the time organizing, printing, journaling and presenting in some form that looking at them one day will matter to someone else. Without children of my own there are few people that I can imagine will be interested in my life and times. I don't take pictures, or scrap them, for posterity, but this whole aging business does make me mindful of how I spend the time I have.

One thing I do know. I need to record what matters to me in more than pictures. Because the day WILL come when I won't remember, or can't place the who, what, or where of some of the pictures I've taken. If I want my life to matter, then something tangible will need to reflect that, at least as I see it now, today. Lovely as she is, I don't really want to end up like Miss Sue.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

share the love update

I forgot to mention one of the really fun things about this sharing project. Kim's idea is that they are made to give away. BUT! Give two away at a time: one to the designated recipient, and the other for that person to give away themselves. The gift that continues to give, at least for another "generation." Love it!

So after I had finally nailed down the process of creating these lovely cozies I got busy yesterday for a while and made 11 more, yielding a grand total of 12 cozies. Thus far, three fabric combinations have been used, those that you see here. This is so much fun! It takes longer to pull fabric and put together color combos than it does to sew these, and soon I will need to venture out to buy mere portions of a yard for the little accent strip.

Anyway, just wanted to offer this update since Sunday mornings are never a good time for to sit here and be thoughtful about something to write. Too many other things going on in my head!

Have a lovely, cozy day, and if you'd like a cozy yourself, just let me know color prefrences in the comments. I'll see what I can do!

Be well...
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Saturday, November 21, 2009

finally! a finished product

I have been wanting to sew something, like, forever! Several days ago my friend Kim posted a project she is working on that she calls "Share the love! (don't share the germs)," that involves making cozies for travel-size tissues. Kim has such a great sense of color, and the cozies are so darn cute that I thought, "this, I can do!" It took me several days to clear space in my office and to free up the work counter to set up my cutting mat. Once that was done I began going through my stash of fabric. There's plenty there! The trick, however, is to find three fabrics that work together in the finished look. Not so easy, especially when my fabrics were acquired over a span of years, and the colors don't always coordinate through palette changes. I finally found several combinations that would work, and got busy on my first cozy.

Kim reports that she has the project down to five minutes. Let's just say that my first effort took longer than that. For one thing I had to shake free of "the practice of sewing" cobwebs. Don't laugh, it's a genuine impediment! And then there's the "measure twice, cut once" wisdom that translates into exceeding caution following directions the first time through. The sewing part, after that, was easy. I got stuck on the corners yesterday and then got interrupted by other tasks (we will NOT talk about dangerous it is for me to go to Sam's this time of year), and finally decided that a fresh start in the morning would be a good idea.

Never underestimate the power of the mind to work through problems during sleep, for it was during that brain doze that I resolved my corner dilemma. Did you know that Elias Howe, inventor of the sewing machine overcame a major stumbling block with his invention because of a dream? In the dream he was being chased by sewing needles that bounced up and down to create forward momentum, and that, ladies and gentlemen (are there any gentlemen that read this blog?) led to the mechanical principal of the sewing machine.

Back to my cozy. Strengthened by a cup of coffee after rising this morning, I got busy taking care of the cozy corners and voila! The picture you see above is my first finished product. There will be two just like this, and who knows, maybe more, but this is a happy place to start.

So thanks, Kim, you got me off my duff (and then onto it, ironically) and I am now producing handcrafted work again. Y'all have no idea how huge this is, especially right now in my life. If you'd like to take part in this sharing adventure, link to Kim's blog (see banner in the left hand column), and join the fun and use up some scraps.

Now I just need to go buy some tissue packs!

Friday, November 20, 2009

friday five: thinking about thanksgiving

At Revgals Jan writes:

The Cure

Lying around all day
with some strange new deep blue
weekend funk, I'm not really asleep
when my sister calls
to say she's just hung up
from talking with Aunt Bertha
who is 89 and ill but managing
to take care of Uncle Frank
who is completely bed ridden.
Aunt Bert says
it's snowing there in Arkansas
on Catfish Lane, and she hasn't been
able to walk out to their mailbox.
She's been suffering
from a bad case of the mulleygrubs.
The cure for the mulleygrubs,
she tells my sister,
is to get up and bake a cake.
If that doesn't do it, put on a red dress.

--Ginger Andrews (from Hurricane Sisters)

So this Friday before Thanksgiving, think about Aunt Bert and how she'll celebrate Thanksgiving! And how about YOU?

1. What is your cure for the "mulleygrubs"?

Not a cure, exactly, but as a means to get moving I pick one task that will offer the satisfaction of having completed something. Making the bed always works. After that I can usually do another task. The best sustained therapy is to create something.

2. Where will you be for Thanksgiving?
We’ve been invited to join the family of some friends, so we will be there for dinner, but otherwise home doing who knows what.


3. What foods will be served? Which are traditional for your family?
I have no idea what foods will be served where we are dining. Growing up we had the usual fare, except that I didn’t like potatoes, so there was always a rice dish. For several years I made a pumpkin roll for dessert that continues to be a favorite.


4. How do you feel about Thanksgiving as a holiday?
Love the four day weekend, hated the traffic back when I would drive to my Mom’s (I haven’t lived in the same area for 15 years). I was always glad to be with my family. We usually had others join us, which changed up the dynamic a bit. Playing charades was standard after-dinner fare. Since moving elsewhere I’ve pretty much been an orphan at Thanksgiving, so the experience is different from what it was.


5. In this season of Thanksgiving, what are you grateful for?

I’ve been feeling pretty beaten up lately, so right now I would have to say that I am grateful that I have the strength of inner resources to get me through. God is a huge part of that, as are other faithful people who have been companions on this rocky stretch of journey.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

intentional radiance


There's been a lot of conversation about gratitude on blogs in recent months, and for good reason. A natural antidote to difficult times and challenging situations is spending some time in the light. At our house our challenges continue. Some days the shadows are deep and long, and on other days they are less apparent, almost unnoticeable. It can be hard to walk that line of inconsistency, so for my own sake of balance I have been trying to think of ways to incorporate a ritual of seeking and reflecting light.

At a bookstore the other day there was a small volume about ways to "give away" at Christmas. It was just the kind of companion I was looking for to help me make my intentions more concrete, and help my focus on seeking/reflecting stay on track. The book offers simple suggestions, like giving hugs and smiling at strangers. There are the fun things like paying for the coffee of the person behind you in line at Starbucks. Then there are the more strategic ideas, like leaving five and ten dollar bills in places where people without much money are likely to encounter them: dumpsters near areas where homeless populations linger, or shopping carts at dollar and discount grocery stores (and I don't mean Sam's or Costco). There was, as well, the notion of starting a "giving" account, which would accumulate funds to be given away. This year I think our various jars of loose change is a place to go to do a little something.

You get the idea. It doesn't take much to make the world a brighter place for someone, even if only for a moment. So I invite you to join me in the practing of reflecting light. My hope is that in doing so, at least for me, my own heart will shine more brightly, and that the intentional ritual of giving/sharing/reflecting/loving will become part of the fiber of my everyday being. I'm tired of being a person whose intentions outnumber her actions, and as we approach a season infused with charity, compassion, love and generosity, there is no better time to get busy sharing the light.

I'll start by thanking you for honoring me with your visit to this blog. Your presence matters.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

I'd like to introduce...

I have some amazing friends, one of whom is Nancy Rue. Nancy was a parishioner several years ago, and despite the boundary issues that challenge clergy relationships, we became close friends. When a series of events a few years back left me homeless for several weeks, Nancy and her husband took me in and gave me refuge. They nursed my spirit, provided comfort, and as ever in their presence we laughed and enjoyed the close camaraderie of friendship. Nancy and Jim rank up there at the top of my list of favorite people.

Life circumstances and directions have resulted in not seeing much of each other since my return to the Cedar City, but one of the comforts of friendship is knowing that the friend is there when you need them. The other day when I was feeling particularly blue and alone, Nancy was the friend I turned to. Yesterday we spent a delicious chunk of time together over tea laced with conversation. I was able to pour out my heart, and she listened faithfully and attentively, offering exactly what I needed. I was able to cry, to laugh, to speculate, throw up my hands at the bewildering mysteries and challenges of life, and have my heart soothed and comforted. That time together was a precious gift to me, and I am abundantly thankful for the honor of her friendship.

I mention her here today, however, not to extol the virtue of her friendship, but to brag on her! Nancy is a writer whose published work began with young adult books and expanded in recent years to include adult fiction. She teaches at writing conferences and participates in workshops that serve the needs of home-schooling families, among a variety of other groups. Her focus is grounded in her Christian faith and through her work she invites others to engage and practice their faith through the daily toils and traumas (and celebrations) that are common, especially, to growing up female. Nancy is one of the best-kept secrets of the Christian publishing world, and I share this today to do my small part to expose those who are a part of my world to the joys of her work. It's not mentioned on her web site, but her novel Healing Waters was selected as the 2009 "Women of Faith" novel of the year!

One of the things that makes Nancy so popular among her readers is that she isn't preachy, and she writes to reach people where they live and run into the foibles of life. She is particularly gifted working with 'tweens, and she engages with them directly through a blog on her web site, as well at conferences and workshops. If you're looking for reading material for a young or approaching adolescence girl, Nancy is a great choice. She's also a rare "moderate" voice in the Zondervan publishing world, who won't compromise her views to please the publisher.

You go, girl!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

nuggets

Nuggets of wisdom can be found everywhere: plaques, posters, greeting cards, tote bags, even tea bags!

Among my favorites:
  • The battle of the sexes will never be won, there’s too much fraternizing with the enemy.
  • Experience is a hard teacher. She gives the test first, and the lesson afterward.
  • The hand that holds the car keys rules the family.
One such tote bag caught my eye recently, and I wrote down the quote and propped it by the phone on my desk. It claims a place of such prominence not because it trumps all other wisdom, but because I thought I would do something with it soon. Like put it on a greeting card!

I have been engaging in a pretty thorough course of self-examination over the last several days, and this morning one of the lines of this “nugget” stood out: “Choose with no regret,” it reads, followed by “Continue to learn.”

That first one gave me lots to think about. In the world of drama we are often shown a character looking at his or her life and coming to terms with its potential end right around the corner. The phrase “I have no regrets,” is uttered, the implication being that coming to the end of one’s life without regrets is a kind of finish line to cross. Perhaps it is. Maybe the substance of regret is the grist we are given for the mill of our being, to grind through and come to terms with the consequences of our choices, accept them and let them go. I can buy into that. But I also know that some unfortunate consequences have a long life span, and their impact on our lives can reverberate a very long time.

I have plenty of regrets about choices I have made. To the best of my ability I strive to make good choices with the information I have at the time. I think that is a fair standard for any of us when it comes to making choices. Held up to the light of scrutiny when all the information is gathered and evaluated is when we are able to recognize the flaws in what we chose. “If I’d known then what I know now…” But we don’t know. If we’re lucky, and perhaps intentional, we’ll learn from the experience when our choices head down the path to regret (see teabag wisdom about experience, above).

What I think “Choose with no regret” is really getting at, however, is the freedom to choose without second-guessing ourselves. It might be something as mundane as picking a color from one of L.L. Bean’s plethora of options when purchasing a turtleneck (or a t-shirt for my friends in the tropics). When a high school senior chooses a college, a more critical choice, the wisdom must hold, as well.

I think choosing without regret means not uttering the phrase that begins with “I wish I had (or hadn’t)…” The reality at such times is that we didn’t do, say, or act as we had the opportunity to do. Regretting our choices at such a time does help us learn to pay attention to the things we have before us to consider at any point in time. I have learned, for instance, not to buy an article of clothing that I absolutely love when no viable opportunity to wear it is likely (or when it is just snug enough that I think that I really will lose the weight to be able to wear it!). But more importantly I am learning that the regret of not doing weighs more heavily on me than regretting doing something. I am working on understanding what part of my being interferes with action, and trying to determine how I can rehabilitate the character flaw that keeps me from getting to my feet, putting pen to paper, or getting out the mixing bowls.

I suppose that what it boils down to is that regret is opportunity. What we do with, whether or not we learn from it, is what shapes the choices we make in the future.

What do you think?
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Monday, November 16, 2009

i detect a theme...


It's no secret that I am a dog lover, but this post isn't so much about dogs as it is about the inclination of the human heart to respond to the needs of others.

I happened upon a program on the Weather Channel yesterday that relates the story behind the famous Iditarod. I didn't know that the race commemorates what is known as the "Nome serum run." In January 1925, teams of mushers and their dogs worked in round-the-clock relays to get critical medicine to the town of Nome, Alaska when it experienced an outbreak of diphtheria. It is a wonderful and moving story about the dedication and determination of these mushers to risk their lives and the lives of their dogs to cover nearly 700 miles of ground (and frozen waterways) to deliver the serum to Nome and save its children from an inevitable epidemic. Just imagine Alaska in the dead of winter and you'll get a sense of the challenge of this operation.

The program included photographs of the people and places involved in the original story, reenactment segments, interviews with mushers, historians and biographers, and footage from a recent Iditarod race. Far better than most documentaries, it is a "feel good" story with something for everyone as story-telling goes. I highly recommend it as something worth watching on television.

It is also inspiring me, once again, to explore opportunities in my own community to become involved and make a difference in the lives of people in need. I really need to do something about that.

Note to self: mush!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

it's a dog day sunday

While catching up with Project Runway I was thrilled to learn that the NY fabric store, Mood, has a shop dog named Swatch. Is that perfect, or what?

Swatch in his supporting role at Mood.

and

I've been quite spoiled by the professionals on "Dancing with the Stars," but no matter what, this dog takes the prize!

Thanks to my friend Yolande for sending me the link.

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