Sunday, January 31, 2010

project life - week 4

Sundays tend to be difficult days for me to give adequate time to writing a blog post. Taking a page from my blog buddy The Bug, I've decided to recap the week's Project Life photos! 
Sunday, January 24
 Our vestry, with two newly elected members and our new officers elected several nights earlier at our first meeting. (I don't usually vest in cassock and surplice, but I had left my alb at home following diocesan convention!)

Monday, January 25
Time to donate blood! I'm a rare type (AB negative), so I try to give as often as I can. It helps that two churches in the area hold regular blood drives.

Tuesday, January 26
I picked up this book the previous week at the Cokesbury bookstore. It is full of observations and insights that I am finding extraordinarily valuable!

Wednesday, January 27
The promise of snow or the reality of it brings out the baker in me. It must have something to do with the warmth and intimacy of the kitchen that draws me to it to create comfort.

Thursday, January 28
When the temperature drops Ken gets the fire going. The dogs love to help!

Friday, January 29
The snow actually arrived! This is a view of the backyard that excludes the um, man clutter. The shed belongs to the neighbor, and is in the corner of their yard.

Saturday, January 30
McKinlee loves the snow!

Got pictures from your week? 

Saturday, January 30, 2010


On Monday I'm heading to Sewanee to a clergy retreat at St. Mary's Center. It won't look as serene as this considering that it's mid-winter and we've just had snow, but it will still be serene. More importantly, it will be away. Retreat. Down time with rest and nourishment for my soul. I plan to read, pray, do some needlework, a little journaling, and visit with my colleagues. And rest.

It's been too long since I had this kind of time away. In fact, the last clergy retreat I attended was at the beginning of the Iraq war. I remember that because I was knitting a prayer shawl for the wife of a soldier being deployed. I had the bishop bless the shawl, and that occasion is etched in my mind.

I'd like to return to knitting. Against all odds with a romping puppy in our midst, I attempted a project as we approached Christmas. McKinlee did seem to catch on to the fact that knitting in my hands was forbidden territory, so maybe there's hope that knitting is something I can take up again. I've got a scarf I'd like to do, but I want to use a pattern that's interesting enough to make the effort worthwhile, but not so different that I have to refer to a pattern constantly. It's been a long time and I don't remember a lot of the stitches I used to know in my sleep. But I digress.

Retreat. Perhaps the thing I most covet when I'm on retreat is that no one expects anything of me. No dogs to tend (translation: McKinlee's waste management system won't be my concern). No meals to fix or dishes to wash. No laundry, no meetings, no anything that isn't of my choosing. Time apart for peace to penetrate my being and to hear the pulse of my soul.

And time to listen. There has been evidence in the last year of God's voice trying to reach me, and I want to recollect those strands of wisdom and direction, piece them together to hear and discern their call. In the last year I have had glimpses of the vision that God desires for and with me, but too often the daily demands of life have pushed them aside and they have become tangled and muted. Time to invite those pieces of divine inspiration to emerge and be present--them to me and me to them.

I am so ready. So ready.

Friday, January 29, 2010

friday five: social networking

Kathryn at RevGals writes: I had the joy of spending time with Songbird last weekend, someone I would have never met had it not been for the blogosphere. Now we keep in touch using a large variety of methods: blog (hers a lot, mine not so much lately), facebook, twitter, text messaging, chat and email. So far there has been no skype.It got me to thinking of the pros and cons of these relatively new means of communication and interconnecting and so I ask you the following:

1) What have been the benefits for you of social networking (blog, twitter, facebook, etc...)
My first experience of connecting online was through a scrapbook message board in 2002. It was a difficult and isolating time in my life and I began posting to this board for help while putting together a scrapbook for a friend. A community of early morning posters formed, and through format changes on message boards, and the creation and demise of others, this group still continues to be in community with each other. I have met most of them "in real life," and all of them have been anchors in my life at one time or another. Three of them came to my wedding several years ago (pictured with me, above--another scrapping friend is in the top right photo).The ongoing contact we have means more to me than I think I can ever express to them all.

Through the Anglican/Episcopal discussion board on Beliefnet I met one of my dearest friends, Jayne, and through her I met my husband! That's Jayne above, top left, and I think you can figure out which picture is of my spouse! It was also Jayne who pointed me to RefGals and a few other bloggers I follow, so I owe her a huge debt for connecting me to people who have become staples of my day and enrich my life in more ways than I can count.

I love facebook. I have reconnected with friends from high school, college, seminary and other phases of life. Maybe best of all it has afforded me the opportunity to get acquainted with some of my husband's extended family, and that has proved a Godsend. 

I won't venture into the benefits of blogging, because I think we all know about that!

I don't twitter. I can barely keep up with the above! And I use my phone to talk to people--I don't do tech through that channel.

2) Which medium do you use the most? Or if you use them all, for what do you use each of them?
I blog almost daily, and use facebook throughout the day. The former is a way to share photos and news with family and friends, and now and then offers a place to express thoughts or share quandaries. Facebook serves a variety of purposes, but is perhaps most valuable when I'm stuck on something and need the expertise of others (especially as it pertains to technical matters). Almost always there's someone who has a helpful response that saves the day.

3) If you could invent a networking site (with no limits on your imagination), what would it provide? What would it not provide?
 I haven't a clue. That's a feat for those gifted with that kind of imagination.

4) Who have you met that you would not have met if it were not for the 'miracle' of social networking?
The most noteworthy, as mentioned above, is my husband. But there are also friends who are lifelines for me and help keep me sane, and the collective community of those friends are invaluable.

5) Who do you secretly pray does not one day try to 'friend/follow' you?
I don't think there is anyone in my life who falls into that category. Should it happen, however, I'll let you know!

BONUS: What was the most random/weird/unsettling/wonderful connection you made that would not have happened if it were not for the ease of which we can find each other in the computer realm?
There are many happy connections and reconnections that have transpired. One significant new connection came through Jan of RevGals, who commended a blog through which I found another blog, through which I began sewing again and rediscovered my inner quilter. Amen to that! There have also been some fun "small world" connections to discover!

Thursday, January 28, 2010


I was headed to the kitchen to reheat my coffee and my thoughts moved toward the day ahead. It stretches wide before me: an appointment canceled, the threat of snow (I'll believe that when I see it!), good stuff to read... The word "today" began to form a sentence, and before I knew it the word was followed by lyrics from a John Denver song. "Today, while the blossom still clings to the vine; I'll taste your strawberries, I'll drink your sweet wine; a million tomorrows shall all pass away, ere I forget the joy that is mine today." I hadn't thought of that song in, well, maybe a million yesterdays, but there it was, clear and sweet in my head.

In the dead of winter our vines are bare, but there is plenty that blooms within. Thoughts, feelings, ideas, confidence are all blooming. Good things are happening. Spring is on the way, a wedding is inching closer, my health issues are improving, I'm creating again, and Ken is in better spirits. there is joy in this day.

Once upon a time I made valentines every year. I can't recall exactly when or why I stopped, but I miss that annual activity of thinking about the people I love and pouring that love into my creative crucible. It's time to renew that tradition, and it's a particularly good idea to maintain some creative momentum with my bright and shiny tidy office and work space.

So today I will think about and pray for loved ones. I will channel that love from heart to hands. I'll think about a man who sang songs about the beauty and eternity of love, and hum along as I work. Today I will relish the joy that is mine.

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Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Jesus and Meyers-Briggs

First, a question. Do you think Jesus was an introvert or an extrovert?

Here's an interesting little item with HUGE implications. I was in the Cokesbury store the other day (there are some distinct advantages to living in the buckle of the bible belt), a dangerous place for me to be allowed any kind of time for browsing, and this book jumped off the shelf and stared me down: Introverts in the Church, Finding our Place in an Extroverted Culture (Adam S. McHugh). Being an introvert I thought that it was written for me, of course. Somehow or other it found its way into my bag.

Heading off to give blood yesterday I grabbed the book to tuck into my pack. I only got to page 25 (I'm a slow reader), but already my mind is jumping, and the "a-HAs!" can't keep up with each other. There is a presumptive bias in the book that the author makes clear from the get-go. He paints evangelical churches as distinctly extroverted (said author also acknowledges that he does some broad stroke generalizing). As such they (read "the membership") are chatty and casual, and the preaching conversational. Since the place and authority of scripture is central to their faith it is one of the things about which they are chatty. Evangelizing, then, comes as naturally as breathing. I'm oversimplifying. He went on to make some other observations that led me to wonder off on my own. Hence:
In more catholic traditions there is this thing called The Mystery. The Mystery is mediated through sacraments, and by its very nature invites reflection and meditation. (I might go so far as to suggest that it is intuitive, but that's another conversation.) In the Episcopal Church we struggle with our identity as evangelists. By in large we shun the notion of taking the word out to the world--not in theory (we are 'piscies, after all!), but in practice. We're uncomfortable talking about our faith (that is a corporate we, not an individual "we").

I used to contend that a principle reason we weren't good evangelists is due to our ecclesial DNA: our roots are in a State Church, which did not need to evangelize. I still maintain that there is something to that theory, but now I add the introvert/extrovert argument. As a Mystery church we are an introverted church. We thrive on drinking it in, literally and figuratively, and mulling it all over. Wonder why newcomers don't want to come to coffee hour? Hello! Introverts in a crowd of strangers--lemme outta here!

I have already been given so much food for thought here I can hardly stand it, and this is just up to page 25. This book is a must read for anyone involved in evangelism, welcoming and incorporating people into the church. It is also extremely helpful in understanding how the church might use the gifts of its people more thoughtfully and with greater impact. At a church I once served the vestry took the Meyer's-Briggs test each year so that they could understand and appreciate the particular dispositions that each member brought to the table. Not a bad idea at all when dealing with a leadership team. It is also a reminder that in any corporate setting the same issues manifest themselves.

There is so much more that could be said on this topic, but already I've rambled enough this morning. As for Jesus, I don't know if he was and introvert or an extrovert, but to me he seems to be a healthy balance that reflects both. But of course!

Monday, January 25, 2010

a pause to give

Today's Project 365 shot. Tastefully composed so that no one has to look at the needle site. I really need to do this more often. Time just somehow slips away, which I guess explains all that gray in my hair!

put your right foot in

I remember a cartoon that appeared in the "welcome" issue of my college newspaper one fall. It read, "It's only the first day of classes, and I'm already a week behind."

Life feels like that these days. As I contemplate the things to be done it all seems manageable, with room to spare even! And then the reality of each day unfolds and I can't keep up. At least not how I'd like to.

Like right now. My hair isn't dry and I need to leave the house in five minutes. See?

Hoping your days are going more smoothly than mine.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

a sunday song

In the world of synchronicity, this hymn seems particularly appropriate to share.

It was sung at my ordination, though to a different tune (and I couldn't find a video of the song to the "correct" tune!) This video even changes up the lyrics a bit, but the gist is the same. May it soothe and inspire.

Take my life, and let it be

Consecrated, Lord to thee

Take my moments and my days

Let them flow in ceaseless praise.

Take my hands, and let them move

At the impulse of thy love

Take my heart, it is thine own;

It shall be thy royal throne.

Take my voice, and let me sing

Always, only, for my King.

Take my intellect, and use

Every power as thou shalt choose.

Take my will, and make it thine

It shall be no longer mine

Take myself, and I will be

Ever, only, all for thee.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

and on the seventh day

Our annual convention began yesterday. Long day. Went to bed with a headache and woke up after fitful sleep with such pressure in my head I stayed home for day 2. Feel miserable. Trying to sleep. Prayers welcome. Sigh.

Friday, January 22, 2010

friday five: planes, trains and automobiles

At RevGals Songbird writes: By the time you're reading this, I'll be en route to a Great Big City to see my son in a play. I'll go by car and bus and train and no doubt cab and maybe even subway. Thus, our Friday Five.

1) What was the mode of transit for your last trip?
That would be the ever-faithful car. I love road trips.

2) Have you ever traveled by train?
I used to take either the train or bus to visit my grandparents in NYC. And of course in the UK, the train is the way to go!

3) Do you live in a place with public transit, and if so, do you use it?
My little town is the terminus of the only public transit rail line to Nashville. I've taken it once. Said little town does not have any other public transportation.

4) What's the most unusual vehicle in which you've ever traveled?
At the time it was unusual, but not so much anymore: a stretch SUV-limo that seated 25 people. It was a Chamber of Commerce event to a celebrity car race at the old Nashville Speedway (Mark Collie, for you country music fans!). Somewhere I have a picture, I'll have to dig it out, scan and post one of these days!

5) What's the next trip you're planning to take?
I'm going on retreat in another week, but I don't really call that a trip. I suppose the next trip in the works will be for our son's wedding in April, to Augusta, GA. We'll combine that with our annual spring visit to Melrose, which is essentially in the metro Augusta area.

Have a wonderful trip, SB!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

no post today

Blogger ate my post this morning. It wasn't a fluff piece like yesterday's, it was a heart-felt, open-the-soul-post, like journaling. Its disappearance is a blow to me (for reasons that would be apparent if you could read it), and I don't think I can recreate it. Posts like that aren't meant to be recreated anyway. So no post today. Instead I'll simply wish you blessings.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

yes, we have no bananas

I didn't have to go far yesterday to chronicle a part of my day for Project 365. Some overripe bananas were begging to be put to use, so use them I did! I'm not a huge fan of banana bread, but muffins? You betcha! And these are to die for. The secret? Coffee! A splash of the stuff with a pinch of cinnamon and you are tasting muffin heaven.

Want one?

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

This day, this hour

Several friends are participating in a photographic life-journaling effort called Project 365/Project Life. The idea is to document each day of the year photographically. The photographs are intended to represent one's life during the course of the year; written journaling is optional.

I started Project 365 last year but wandered from it after about two weeks, never to return for 2009. This year I see one friend's daily expression on facebook, another shares her weekly collection on her blog. I decided I would give it another go.

Here it is the nineteenth day of the month and I feel a bit stumped about what to photograph. My days are very much alike, and the scenery doesn't change much. I spend a lot of time at my computer. Then there are the occasions, like yesterday when I did a home communion, that I would have loved to photograph that. It felt awkward to me, however, to show up with camera in hand with an obvious agenda that the visit afforded me an opportunity to accomplish something, rather than focus on the person to whom I was taking communion. Scratch that.

When I was in college I took a photography course that included an assignment to take pictures at two times during the day: 10:00 AM and 4:00 PM. Wherever we were. I still have those photos somewhere. The morning shot was of my mailbox, since checking my mail occurred at that time pretty much every day. In the afternoon my photo was of the softball coach hitting a ball into the outfield during the team's daily practice. I've been contemplating a similar approach to Project 365 to help me focus on different aspects of my day to help me "see" my life less subjectively.

In search of a graphic to go with this post I came upon this clock. It's creation is the result of an assignment for a college or graduate course dealing with design, and reflects a collection of brands related to a particular industry. The post accompanying this graphic was intriguing and got me thinking about how our environment reflects our identity. Sort of like how a collection of daily photographs reflects, to some extent, who we are through snapshots in time (pun intended).

As I do a visual, 180 degree sweep of the area around my computer as I write this there are a host of different symbols that reflect me: sheep-lover, dog person, quilter, appreciator of Celtic art, friend, step-mother, scrapper, cousin, daughter, pray-er, Pampered Chef consultant, coffee drinker, reader, music-lover, correspondent, crossword puzzle junkie, priest. Those are some of the obvious descriptors. A more reflective glance would reveal other signs that contribute to the person I am, but you get my point.

I'm thinking that it might be a fun project to create a clock that, through words, pictures, or a combination of the two, would represent who I am, or at least who I want to share with the world. And I wonder--what would you include in your clock?

Monday, January 18, 2010

who's in charge here?

When McKinlee was still a wee thing--about four months old, I think--she accompanied me to the home of some friends where I joined them in unloading some possessions at a yard sale. She was so eager to love all over everybody that I didn't worry about her wandering off (I DID have a pen for her there if it was needed). When I went next door to chat with the parishioner who lived there, McKinlee romped along behind me. Mary Lou's son was there helping her do some work in the garden, and when he saw McKinlee his first cajoling words were, "Here comes trouble!" I've blamed him ever since for her subsequent behavior!

Does she not look like trouble? I love her to death, but she wears me out with her antics, her constant need to go outside (a total drag when donning scarf, gloves and coat are involved), the barking that has developed, and her latest motor skill development of clawing at me with her nails to get attention. I am soooo in need of the Dog Whisperer. Yes, I know that I am the one who needs to be brought under control here. A comment by Ken that got under my skin the other night also made me decide that I needed a new approach to my role as dog-owner-in-chief, as well as some professional help. I have Tamar Gellar's book The Loved Dog, and on the heels of my irked reaction to a certain husband's remark I fetched the book from the shelf.

Tamar worked as an intelligence officer with the Israeli army, and her observations of the army's handling of their dogs convinced her that love was a much better way to be in relationship with one's canine than through intimidation, demanded obedience or any form of aggression. Being a lover at heart I immediately changed my attitude the next time McKinlee went to the front door. Instead of starting the clock on her I exercised patience as she sniffed the ground and the air for an indeterminate time. I like myself better, and she probably likes me better, but that is just a start.

I need to work my way through this book and change my behavior while I wait for adequate weather to try to train her to the invisible fence. Of course she's chewed that collar to pieces and I have to find some funds to buy a new one, but we'll just let that go for now. She's a dog, a puppy, and she is going to behave like one until I manage to channel her behavior in a different direction. New Year's resolution? I guess this might just count as one.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

getting back into the game

Friday Night's Sew-In provided two opportunities to me: dedicated time for creating, and time to get back into quilting. I thought a small project would be a good way to spend that evening, not to mention be a "baby steps" approach to something I haven't done in several years. I also wanted a more appealing surface top for my new altar area, presently a dark charcoal gray. A pattern in a small quilt book drew my eye, and with "blue" in mind to coordinate with the blue walls of my office, I set out in search of fabric.

The background, the white fabric, was the only thing in the entire store that seemed to suit the project. From there it was a matter of coordinating tones and colors, and in the end, I thought I had a workable collection. Disregarding the border (which I think will come off) it's not that it's a bad effort; it just doesn't fit the space in terms of mood. It feels better suited to a boys room than a woman's altar. Whatever, it's just not working for me.

So I feel sort of bittersweet about this project. I got it done (the top, anyway) and it's not bad. It just isn't what I wanted it to be. Oh well. This happens. There's no place else in this house for this to fit--our decor is earth tones--so I'm not sure what its future is. But now that the machine is up, the ironing board is up, and the counter is clear for cutting, the future looms large for more projects. Yipeee!!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

a brush with bliss

Thanks to my friend Kim I've had a little pampering in the last couple of days. She posted a challenge on her blog, the prize of which is a collection of fabric that, in my eye, is to die for! How much more incentive do I need? Her challenge was to make a plan to pamper oneself (details on the blog). Hmm. I thought I could handle that!

After a little tumble in the yard the other day when McKinlee decided to take me for a, well, let's just say spin, I knew that certain muscle groups would be feeling the aches of that unexpected adventure. With a physical therapy appointment scheduled for the next morning I got on the phone and was able to wrangle an appointment with a massage therapist following the PT. Woohoo!

But not to stop there (that truly was a therapeutic massage), I determined to pamper myself yesterday with a pedicure. Ahhhhh, bliss. The salon features these fabulous massage chairs attached to the foot bath. No sooner was I in the chair to begin soaking my tootsies than I hit the remote control and let the chair begin its magic movements. I don't know quite how long the entire pedicure lasted (from first soak to dried polish), but I can tell you that most of Let's Make a Deal and the first ten minutes of Ellen were within my view from the chair. Did I mention bliss? I just closed my eyes for most of the duration of this experience and luxuriated. Oh, and they offer wine. Did I mention bliss?

Kim, how can I thank you?

PS. Another new feature in the latest Picasa that I discovered last night: you can customize the ratio of your collage instead of using preset sizes that were the previous defaults. LOVE IT!

Friday, January 15, 2010

color me rich

The other day while playing in Picasa I received an "alert" that a new version was available. Did I want to update? So update I did. There are a variety of new features on the latest version, the most notable of which is that it has a facial recognition feature. Yowza! This feels like big time, like scanning crime data bases to identify an un-sub, LOL. It's been sort of fun to see how many pictures there are of the people in my life (and sad to recognize how many duplicates I've got floating around on this computer taking up precious space on my hard drive!)

In honor of those folks--family and friends--whose images bring smiles to my face and whose presence in my life light up my days, I've done a collage of a few of the players. I love this feature of Picasa. Its only shortcoming is that I'm not able to arrange where the pictures go. For instance I had to click on the "shuffle pictures" button a whole bunch of times before the picture of my Mom wasn't a tiny square.

Anyway, this is a mere beginning. If you're not in the collage please don't take it personally! I limited myself to a small number so that the images wouldn't be tiny. All of you bring light and love to my life. I am a blessed woman!
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Wednesday, January 13, 2010

today's silly poll and post

During a break in yesterday's meeting I visited the women's bathroom. There were four stalls, including the one for disabled women. All were empty. I headed into the second one and that got me to thinking about something totally mindless and useless. How do people choose their stalls?

This is not a scientific inquiry, and whatever data gathered here will not be used for any purpose. I'm just idly curious. Assuming you have your choice of stalls when you use a public restroom that has, let's say, three or more stalls, do you typically: head for the closest one, go for the middle, use the disabled stall, avoid the disabled stall, check to see which is the cleanest, have no pattern whatsoever.

Just wondering.

PS: I know it's been interfering with the sleep of my readers, so let me just share that I have decided what I will be working on during the Friday Night Sew-In. No, I'm not going to tell you yet! I just thought you would sleep easier knowing that the decision has been made!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

cleanup bonus

Prior to getting my office cleaned up I had been longing for a space to set aside as a focus for prayer. My friend Kim once referred to an "artist's altar" on her blog, and the idea of that seized my imagination in a big way. You can see in the "before" pictures that trying to identify a prospective location for my wee altar area appeared pretty much impossible. As I cleaned, however, I kept in mind my little prayer corner as a priority. And wouldn't you know, by the grace of the Spirit working through my being a space emerged. Best of all, it is within reach of my desk chair, which means I can light candles without having to get up! (I wasn't aiming for that at all, but I really like the proximity of this holy space to where I sit).

the set-up isn't ideal, but for the time being it works. A place for my Mary icon was most important, and the candle and candle mat was next (thanks, Kim!). The large, faux stone cross with tea light at its base was a gift a couple of years ago, and it had been on my desk hidden behind piles of things. I could hear it breathe a sigh of satisfaction as it was freed from the clutter and found a place to be honored. The smaller icon is a recent acquisition from my recent trip to Florida. There's a story behind that, which I'll save for another post. And finally there is the bronze-like cast of the risen Christ. I think that was from my Dad some years ago, but it may have come from my spiritual family at Immanuel House (Genie, do you remember?)

The transformation of my office space is having a positive effect on me beyond anything I could have anticipated. I feel lighter. I feel more connected to the essence of who I am (the creative person). The openness of the space creates a kind of tranquility that bathes me with its freshness while I am in here. And the prayer space makes it oh, so much easier to feel grounded, especially when it feels like life is hammering away at me or those I care about. I'm loving my new space. But best of all, it is loving me back.

Monday, January 11, 2010

monday miscelany

It's a day of chasing details and crossing items off the to do list. And then... fun stuff! A little creating in my newly cleaned up office, and then this afternoon a trip to the movies to get us out of the house. I usually don't mind extended stays at home, but I am really ready for a change of scenery. There is a world out there, after all, where people live, and move, and have their being. Time to see it again, encounter it in all its humanity and messiness, and contemplate life in the present moment.

I've got two full days of clergy stuff this week, tomorrow and Wednesday. Before you know it it will be the middle of the month and I will be wondering how the heck we got there so soon! There have been days recently when I have not used my time to full advantage and I lament that. I don't dwell on that waste, but it makes me mindful that when opportunities come along to enjoy life, it behooves me to seize them. Which is one reason I am planning to take part in the Friday Night Sew-In. Accountability is a good thing for me, even if it is mainly to myself. And if any of you want to hold me accountable that is okay, too. The temperatures are supposed to move above freezing in a couple of days, and Juliet and I are more than ready to get back out for our walks. There's miles to go before I shed the pounds I seek!

I've now had my coffee, endured a lengthy interruption from a certain spouse, and will head to the shower to get my system kicked into the next gear. Hope your day is a good one.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

it's a pajama party!

Through my friend Kim's blog I learned about an upcoming Friday Night Sew-In, an opportunity to share some virtual time with others working on creative projects. It's sort of like virtual crops that I used to do sometimes with scrapping friends, but this one broadens the field to include any creative project, be it sewing, scrapping, knitting, and so on. Cool! Participants are asked to sign up and spread the word through our own blogs. So here I be, spreading the word. I haven't decided yet what my designated Friday project will be, but I can tell you that I'm already excited about it! Wanna join in? Follow the links!

Saturday, January 09, 2010

drum roll, please!

Speaking of dreams, here's one that has come true!

You've been reading about me working to clean up my office. You've seen occasional pictures of progress along the way (stacks of fabric in the top of the closet, photos tucked into the corner cupboard...). Finally it's more than an effort--it's an accomplishment! Can you give me an "AMEN, sistah!"

Here's the view of the room from the door. Note all those clean and empty work surfaces!
And here's the long wall of scrap booking paper and accessories, fabric, and Pampered Chef materials.And finally, the desk area. The big thing up on top of the smaller shelf unit contains stamp pads and colored pens for rubber stamping.
And just so you can appreciate this accomplishment-- some before and after pictures. The before pictures were taken prior to a rearrangement of some furnishings that took place when the corner cupboard and counter top came to live here. There is no before picture of the desk area because it was so overflowing with clutter that I didn't want it documented as a source of embarrassment and shame!

The best part about this? A lot of the things that were cluttering up the space have either gone to the trash, been filed or put away, and the homeless items have found a home. I've got a bucket of scrap booking stuff hiding out in the guest room that still need attention, but that's it. And I think I know where those goodies are going to go.

I still have major plans for better use of the space in the closet, but until I can take care of that let's just say that this camper is better than happy. She's delirious with joy!

Sing with me now, "Heaven, I'm in heaven..." (okay, so the rest of the words to that song don't fit, but I don't really care!)

Friday, January 08, 2010

friday five: dreams

At RevGals Sophia writes: With the beginning of a new calendar year many of us are engaging with dreams of another kind: planning, brainstorming, setting intentions or resolutions, etc… So let's take a few minutes on this (where I am at least) lovely snow-blanketed Friday morning and share about the many different dreams and visions in our lives.

1. Do you tend to daydream?
I wouldn’t call myself a daydreamer, but a possibility-generator (true for my Meyers-Briggs type!). I get ideas and inspiration for things that could be, and sometimes I even act on bringing those possibilities to fruition.

2. Do you usually remember your night dreams? Do you find them symbolic and meaningful or just quirky?
I remember my dreams fairly regularly (like last night, there were these weird snakes…), and if there is something in them that strikes me as significant I am generally able to recall enough of the dream to mull it over for a bit before losing it. My dreams fall into both camps: symbolic and quirky!

3. Have you ever had a life changing dream which you'll never forget?
I wouldn’t say that I’ve ever had a life-changing dream as much as dreams that offered epiphanies that led to changes within my life. Some of them I would describe as opening the eyes of my heart or mind. During one period in my life when I worked for a demon rector, dreams alerted me to the manipulative and cunning side of his personality. That understanding of him led me to a healthier perspective of myself in relation to the church in which I worked. Ultimately it gave me the strength to leave that position for my own well-being before having a call elsewhere.

4. Share a long term dream for one or more aspects of your life and work.
Sigh. I have concluded that I don’t really have dreams for my life. As noted above in #1 I delve more into possibilities than dreams. This might be because I tend to be my own worst enemy when it comes to achieving dreams (or goals). It’s not sabotage so much as a lack of certain skills. Or so I think. I could be very wrong.

5. Share a dream for 2010....How can we support you in prayer on both the short and long term dreams?
More a hope than a dream: our son is getting married in April, and he and his fiancée are struggling to pay for the wedding. It is my hope that we will, somehow, be able to help them financially to ease some of that burden. We have our own financial struggles that make this a challenge, but there are some things I could do to bring in some additional income. I'd also love to lose a bunch of weight by the time that event rolls around! ... Prayer support to help me tackle the fears getting in the way of me doing what I can do to generate more income would be helpful.

Bonus: I wrote this while coming to terms with the end of a relationship long ago.

Reflections on the Memory of a Dream

You were there
like a figure in the mist.
More than a shadow,
the shape was yours.
I felt your presence,
your breath.
I knew it was you.
On the edge of a dream you greeted me,
the warmth of your hand was my
anchor in the mystery that
never unfolded,
but enfolded the harmony of that moment.
Side by side
your shoulder leaned against mine.
"You know, don't you," you said.
"Yes," I said,
"I know."
We watched as a dove soared by,
sweeping to cut an arc
into the mist with its wing.
It disappeared from view,
leaving a flutter of vapor in the funnel
of its wake.
Even in absence there are signs of life.
Your turn to face me,
and I place my fingers against yours,
the pressure of your hands
a gentle tug against my heart.
I watch your fingers fold around mine
and you kiss my hands.
Slowly I step back, the space between us
widening even as the warmth lifts my soul.
I raise my arms and follow the dove into the mist.
You are there. Always there.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

day of light

Twelve years ago I had the privilege of sharing leadership on a trip to Israel and Egypt. We were a small group of Episcopalians and Baptists, trekking to and through various holy sites identified with the life and ministry of Jesus. There are a host of highlights of that trip worthy of mention, but today I am remembering the fields of Bethlehem. On the edge of the modern city hailed as the birthplace of Christ, where shrines and iconic bling dominate the landscape you will find a monastery. It is an ancient place that emanates a kind of serenity lacking in most of the venerated sites associated with Jesus. Old stone walls and stubby trees frame the immediate boundary of the place, and beyond those edges an expanse of pasture and gentle hills extend for a distance.

Bethlehem fields. It is here that shepherds watched their flocks when the glory of the Lord appeared to them to announce the miracle that would shift the poles of the human heart. It is the place among all the places we visited that drew me into the depth of the Christian story and embraced me with its power. Here I could imagine the shepherds. Here I could listen for the baa's of the sheep and goats as they fed in the dark night on the hills. I could imagine the sounds of birth and the cry of a baby and, in time, the growing light that would fill the sky and lead humanity to the cradle of faith. This is the place where The Story resonates with me and becomes deep-in-my-bones real.

Today is the feast of the Epiphany. It is my favorite feast of the year, calling me to follow the transcendent light that holds me fast in its holy grip through the journey of my days. It is a day when divine simplicity shines through the web of theological complexity that marks the mystery of faith and infuses my soul with the joy of God's love. It is a day of triumph that heralds the ultimate triumph of resurrection. For all of its majesty it is day of silence and awe.

I doubt that silence will permeate my day, but I will do my best to keep the awe within my sights. I will light a candle, probably more than one, a reminder of the gift of light and love that translates as hope for me. More than anything else in these difficult days of our lives hope it what keeps me afloat. Today I will give thanks that faith guides my way like a polestar, close my eyes and imagine the fields of Bethlehem ablaze with light.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

a fresh look at a familiar problem

What is it about a calendar changing, a year changing, that inspires us to consider that our lives are reset in some way to begin anew? The clock strikes twelve as it does every other night. The morning dawns as it does every day. And yet the idea that something is new is so powerful that we truly believe we are at a beginning. The culture has embraced the "out with the old" concept so thoroughly that it permeates what we talk about, what we think, and for many of us, what we do.

I am among those, this year, reaching out not only for a fresh start but a transforming launch into the new year. I feel energy particularly as it pertains to my work. I have a clearer sense of my purpose as a priest "in charge" of a struggling congregation. A year of living with, in and through the bobbly rhythms of this small parish have revealed strengths and weaknesses (theirs as well as mine, though I am already fairly familiar with my weaknesses), and a sense of needed structure is emerging that I believe will help them claim their gifts and exercise the ministry to which they are called.

To help in that effort I spent the day yesterday outlining ministry descriptions according to the needs of the parish's common life. The list looks like that of a large church, and yet small churches need the same mechanisms to function in a healthy manner: communication, pastoral care, worship participants, education, a ministry of outreach, stewardship... The challenges are multiple when there are a small number of players with the energy, time and commitment to make things happen.

I'm thinking that it might be time to go to some of those we don't see often and yet call this place "home," and ask them to take on a specific role. They are needed. I recall a friend from another parish telling me that when she and her family moved to a neighborhood with a church just a block away, they spoke to the priest to offer their gifts for ministry. In essence they were told that they weren't needed. That family found their way to a small parish in a neighborhood far from their own and made that community their home. They were needed there, and the gifts they offered breathed life into a house of God that needed them.

This is far from being a new idea, this notion of matching people with their gifts. Yet somehow, as clergy, I think we fall prey to the idea that somehow that matching will happen with a minimum of effort. Announcing a need and expecting that an individual will claim their place to address that need rarely happens. It takes a conscientious effort to consider what people have to offer and unite them with a role to which they are particularly suited.

A year ago we went through a gifts and talents program that energized the participants and left us wanting to apply what we had learned. The failing of that program is that it offers no mechanism for application, nor does it provide ways to sustain the momentum it creates. We made an effort to gather and identify areas of ministry where we could apply our gifts. Individuals volunteered to take responsibility for moving forward with the ideas that were generated, knowing there were others whose gifts and interests could lend support. And then nothing happened.

So I struggle. As a leader I can empower and encourage and support until the cows come home. At the end of the day if the job doesn't get done what part of the failing is mine? Where does my responsibility end and that of the member begin? These are perennial issues of leadership, especially in the church.

So I pray. I pray that the opportunity to start anew is visiting not just me but those I serve. I pray that renewal will take place not just in my heart but in the hearts of others, and that the affect of that renewal will translate into action and, ultimately, transformation. It's not a lot to ask. It is a common hope. I will do my best to work toward its accomplishment.

Monday, January 04, 2010

make dust covers, not war

I am working on making peace with my new printer. Seems like a good way to start the year. My old Epson was approaching six years of age when it sent me a message alerting me that its innards weren't working as they should and it was shutting down. Apparently the necessary surgery would have to take place at a specialized facility in one of three other states (the nearest to me). We all know that printers are cheaper to replace than to fix, and though I had been very happy with my printer the expense of fixing it was out of the question. Alas, so was replacing it. I went online to do a little research and pretty much concluded that the printer you see here would be my solution. It does what I need it to do (a main criteria of which is that paper loads from the back) and the price was right: $99 plus I had a $50 Best Buy GC to apply toward it.

This bright, shiny Epson now sits by my desk. It is a poor cousin to the one I gave up, which was a much better model. The cheap plastic parts of the new one fail to inspire confidence in its ability to perform consistently, and it is one LOUD sucker of a machine. Not to mention that it takes for-ev-er to communicate/translate the data from the computer and get on with printing. I will say this, however. Once it is in print mode it cranks those pages out pretty quickly, and I am happy with the print quality itself.

I noticed within the first few days of its settling into its new home that it was attracting dust and dog hair to its state of the art shiny self with aplomb. So I have decided, as part of my peace-making, and now that my sewing machine is set up and I have room to work in my freshly organized and tidy office, that I will make it a dust cover. Nothing fancy, just a simple cover to protect it from the ravages of living in this house where dust and dog hair rule supreme.

It's a gesture of good will. and I promise to stop cursing at it silently when it takes longer than I have patience to generate its first page when I hit print. There, I think I hear it purring already!

Saturday, January 02, 2010

one the ninth day of Christmas

I woke up to snow! For the record it's not a hearty snow--it's more like a tease just to prove that it could if it really wanted to. No accumulation except in those few rare spots where the ground was actually cold enough to sustain the flakes. And when I say accumulation I mean fractions of an inch. You get the picture. But it's snow. Heart, be still!

Anyway, the most exciting thing about today is that I came into my office this morning to enjoy the efforts of a great deal of reorganizing and tidying yesterday. Juliet now has at least twice the square footage to find a place to lay her beautiful head, and as soon as I finish writing this one of the last obstacles taking up floor space will be removed and she'll have even more choices!

It is a great feeling to have open space to move and to work, and I'm particularly excited that the sewing work space is so much more accessible. I plan to get back to my tissue cozy project asap, and am eager to pass those lovelies on as part of sharing the love.

The office will soon be ready for a prime time photo shoot, and then I will post before and after shots so that you can appreciate with me the enormity of this accomplishment. And celebrate with me! But before then there's just a little more work to do. Today I plan to indulge in continuing that work. I have the luxury of not having to worry about a sermon for tomorrow--the bishop makes his annual visit--so my mind and my time are free to dabble in other things. It is a rare opportunity for a Saturday, kind of like playing hooky without any penalties.

And oh! I have a question. What do y'all do with the little things (objects) in your life that don't have an obvious place to be kept? The random glue stick, key chains, fabric swatches for matching paint, or paint chips for matching fabric... a bowl? a box? a drawer? and where do you keep the bowl or the box? (if it's in a drawer then I'm in trouble! maybe drawers are the next thing that I need to tackle!) I'm in search of a clever and creative solution to a pesky and persistent problem.

So that is the day ahead for me. What's on your plate today?
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Friday, January 01, 2010

friday five: a fresh start

At RevGals Sally writes: As I prepare this post I am aware that it will be posted on New Years Day. We stand at the beginning of 2010 looking not only at a New Year, but at a new decade full of promise and possibilities. For some of us this will be exciting, but others will approach it with trepidation and probably most of us stand on this threshold with a mix of emotions and reactions.It is at this time of year that many (British) Methodist Churches celebrate their Annual Covenant Service, a service that will include this prayer:

I am no longer my own but yours,
Put me to what you will,
rank me with whom you will;
put me to doing,
put me to suffering;
let me be employed for you,
or laid aside for you,
exalted for you,
or brought low for you;
let me be full,
let me be empty,
let me have all things,
let me have nothing:
I freely and wholeheartedly yield all things
to your pleasure and disposal.
And now glorious and blessed God,
Father , Son and Holy Spirit,
you are mine and I am yours.
May it be so forever.
Let this covenant now made on earth
be fulfilled in heaven. AMEN

This prayer is said every year, and offers every member an opportunity to renew their covenant with God. This is no soft or easy prayer, it states in the company of others our willingness to worship God come what may, not that we should become doormats, but that we place God above all else. ( And every year if we are honest we have to acknowledge that we fail).With this prayer in mind I bring you this Friday Five:

1. What will you gladly leave behind in 2009?
The consequences of my husband closing his business. Unnecessary hurt.

2. What is the biggest challenge of 2010 for you?
It looks like I'm going to be the only breadwinner for an indefinite time. My biggest challenge will be meeting that challenge.

3. Is there anything that you simply need to hand to God and say "all will be well, for you are with me"?
Funny, I basically prayed this last night when I went to bed. There are a host of demons in my husbands past that have caused him a lot of hurt. Not addressing those hurts in a healthy way is a catching up with him. I can be a companion and encourager to him in facing that vulnerability and dealing with it but I cannot do it for him. Leaving that to God is very necessary. But oh, I want to help.

4. If you could only achieve one thing in 2010 what would it be?
Reaching the end of the year in better shape than we are beginning it.

5. Post a picture, poem or song that sums up your prayer for the year ahead....
My favorite, favorite poem includes these opening verses:

I said to the Man who stood at the gate of the year,
"Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown."
And he replied, "Go out into the darkness and put your hand into the hand of God.
That shall be to you better than light, and safer than a known way."
Minnie Louise Haskins, made famous by George VI when recited during a Christmas broadcast in 1939
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