Friday, September 30, 2011

friday five: home sweet home

At RevGals Songbird writes: I've got home on my mind: what it feels like, how we make it, what we carry from the past and how we separate other people's leftovers from objects that really reflect our identity. My family has had one home for the past 13 years, the longest I've ever lived anywhere. As the time when all the children are gone comes closer, I wonder where my next home will be?
So here are five questions about home.

1) Where was your first home?
The first home of my childhood was in Newington, Connecticut, a suburb of Hartford. It was a small, three bedroom house with one bathroom, but it's packed with lots of memories inside and out: our cat having kittens in my closet, dinner at the picnic table on the brick patio, a treehouse in the apple tree, drawers in the upstairs bedroom built into the wall, a tree that bloomed at my birthday, playing in the crawlspace in the eaves, invading our parents' bedroom and playing "airplane," balancing in the air on their feet, obstacle courses set up for birthday parties, baking cookies, and so much more. Wish I was home to upload a picture of that house!

2) Do you ever dream about places you used to live?
If you mean dream while sleeping, then the answer is yes. I dream occasionally about the first house of my childhood (see above), but I have dreamt with some frequency about the first house I owned. I suppose there are lots of reasons for that! If you mean daydream, then the answer is also yes. I remember with deep affection and some longing my first home in Tennessee. It had a great yard for the dogs, for one thing, but it had other things to commend it, and I miss it.  
3) If you could bring back one person from your past to sit at your dinner table, who would you choose?
Great question! After some thought I think I'll say my late friend, Kathy. She died five and a half years ago, and I thought at the time of her death that we had resolved some tensions in our relationship. Some things that have transpired since her death--or more accurately, haven't transpired--lead me to believe that full reconciliation did not take place. I carry a lingering sadness about that, and I would like an opportunity to do whatever I can to correct that.
4) What's your favorite room in your current living space?
I don't have a favorite room in my home at the moment. When I finally repaint the living room and make some modest changes there, it will probably be that space. It's where my husband and I hang out, where we relax, and where I am able to read and do hand-sewing. At the moment the room is chaos. I guess I do have a favorite room!
5) Is there an object or an item where you live now that represents home? If not, can you think of one from your childhood?
Hands down, the fireplace and mantel (see above!).I associate it with Christmas, birthdays, and family or friends gathered around it. It's a place of community and celebration, warmth and comfort. The common thread of what makes it special to me is that it is a place of gathering with people I love.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

thankful thursday

A pause to reflect is a good thing in a busy week. And so...

This morning I'm thankful for a new 'do! It's actually new as of a month ago (and no, I don't have a picture, yet!) but it was in desperate need of tidying up, so I took care of that yesterday. MUCH happier with the new shape and the attention to detail given by the stylist. I will try to get pictures soon.

I'm thankful that it is finally feeling like fall around here. Cool nights, pleasant days, and clear, crisp skies. Ahhhhh.

I'm thankful for my nephew, Jesse, whose birthday is today. When he was born 21 years ago his maternal grandmother was moved that he was born on "the holiest of days," which, in that year, was Yom Kippur. On the Christian calendar, today is the feast of St. Michael and All Angels, so Jesse is doubly blessed with holiness. Mazel tov, Jesse!

I'm saying on the front end of a new adventure that I'm thankful to start zumba tonight. I hate exercise, but I just can't take the pudge anymore. Or the snug pants. Or the way I look in pictures (it's not an accident that there aren't any pictures of the new haircut). I will probably pass out five minutes into the program because I have so little stamina, but I am determined to give this a try. Twice a week. Yes, I am. Those sayings on pinterest about going slow is still lapping anyone on the couch have finally gotten to me. Take that, fat!

I am thankful for a good place to work. We have some great students, and I have some good colleagues with whom to share the mission of the school and some laughs as we try our best to support that mission.

I am also thankful for my assistant, with whom I laugh daily. Guffaw, even. Sometimes we get going to such an extent that students out in the lounge part of the office look up from their studies.

I am thankful for Pinterest. I know you couldn't tell that the site has practically changed my life, but I find so much inspiration there for various ideas and projects. One such project is actually half implemented!

I'm thankful for friends I've never met who stop by here to see what's happening. One of the things that's tough about keeping up with this blog is that I have lots to say when I'm in the car and hearing stories on the radio. I reflect on what I hear and want to write right then. Alas, by the time I'm at work or get home, that moment is but a memory. One of these days, however, I might just hold on to one of those thoughts and get it down on paper so I can recall it when I get to the keyboard.

Anyway, thanks for stopping by. I appreciate your visit, and I appreciate you!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Saturday, September 17, 2011

formative phrases

Whether we think of them as rules, wisdom, or advice, most of us can probably recall a list of such items that our parents or elders recited to help shape our manners and even, perhaps, our worldview. My father had three favorites that were repeated at meals: chew with your mouth closed, put your napkin on your lap, and keep your elbows off the table.

It was with some delight that I came across this list on Pinterest espousing those same bits of ettiquette, with a few others thrown in. With less regularity we also heard the good counsel to sit up straight and refrain from playing with our food. We learned early on to ask to be excused from the table, and I never did manage to eat my vegetables.

What's interesting to me as I hear these instructive bits in my head is that images of where these meals took place pop into my mind. The triad of fatherly advice puts me at the kitchen table at the home to which we moved when I was 9. I'm sure Dad used those words earlier, but for whatever reason I trapped them in my memory at a particular time in that particular place. I have no doubt that the chewing and elbow portions were directed to my brothers. I can't say one way or the other if I might have been guilty of breaking the napkin code.

I'm absolutely grateful for stumbling across the cornerstones and staples of other peoples lives to evoke my own. I'm not good at recalling memories out of the blue. For me a "memory keyword" is necessary to go delving into my brain to return with a slice of my earlier life to remember or share.

How about you? Are there phrases of advice and counsel that have followed you from childhood? Is your memory like mine, needing a catalyst to release its riches, or do you have stories to relate that don't require evocation? Do tell!
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Friday, September 16, 2011

friday five: what do you seek?

At RevGals Jan is inspired by a few verses from Psalm 105:3-4:

. . . let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice.
Seek the Lord and his strength;
seek his presence continually.

Seeking is rejoicing. Rejoicing comes from the seeking, NOT the end of glory, heaven, enlightenment, or whatever. Seeking is the journey--RIGHT NOW!

So for this Friday Five the following list reflects what I am seeking.

1) My first response is to say TIME! Since returning to the conventional schedule of work I don't have the same freedom or flexibility with time I had for, oh, the last twenty years! It's an adjustment, with a capital A. Much as I miss the freedom and flexibility, however, time isn't really what I seek. The wherewithal to use my time more effectively is what I seek. Is wherewithal something one can seek? Well, this is my Friday five, so I say "yes!"

2) I seek a return to the depth of God's presence that I once experienced. I've shared before how God's apparent disregard for going to war in Iraq really messed with my prayer life, and nothing has been the same since. I miss that intimacy.

3) I seek friends. My life has become increasingly isolated in the relationship department. I'm trying to look at my  part in the loneliness that I feel, and though I can take some responsibility for it, the rest remains a mystery. It's increasingly painful.

4) I seek God's intervention in a number of arenas: my own life (see #2, above); the hearts of so-called Christians whose espoused beliefs reflect nothing of the gospel; the US congress; the global economy; and my dog's bladder habits. 

5) I seek the courage to make some changes in my life. Overcoming the inertia that keeps me from exercising would be a great place to start. I really hate to exercise, and I need/want to lose 50 pounds. 

Bonus) I seek healing for the pain and brokenness of the world.

Second Bonus) I'm desperate for inspiration for a Halloween costume.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

this kiss is worth a thousand words

You all know I'm nutso about dogs, and not just my own. I'm a big fan of Dog Bless You, a facebook page that celebrates all dogs, but in particular champions service dogs to soldiers who suffer from PTSD. Dog Bless You also connects dog and soldier supporters to organizations that support our wounded warriors through service dogs, and shares wonderful, heartwarming dog stories. This is one of them. The writeup was found on  

This photograph shows a red Doberman kissing an exhausted fireman. He had just saved her from a fire in her house, rescuing her by carrying her out of the house into her front yard, while he continued to fight the fire. She is pregnant. The firefighter was afraid of her at first, because he had never been around a Doberman before. When he finally got done putting the fire out, he sat down to catch his breath and rest. A photographer from the Charlotte, North Carolina newspaper, "The Observer," noticed this red Doberman in the distance looking at the fireman. He saw her walking straight toward the fireman and wondered what she was going to do. As he raised his camera, she came up to the tired man who had saved her life and the lives of her babies, and kissed him, when the photographer snapped this shot.

I'm collecting some dog photos and stories that will appear here from time to time. Be warned, and have your hankies ready.


Wednesday, September 14, 2011

I'm still here, are you?

I realize I have been a spotty blogger since becoming part of a more conventional workforce, but I can't tell if anyone is still visiting here (except for my mother).  If no one is reading the blog I'll fold it up and tuck it away, but if my less frequent posts matter to anyone, please let me know. I DO have things to say, but if no one is reading them there's not much point in spending the time to put them out there.

Please just let me know.

Thanks, and have a stellar day!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

halloween, anyone?

Ken and I have a costume party to attend next month, and I've been trying to think of interesting costume ideas. Ken seems determined to go as Andrew Jackson (we are in the Jackson state, after all), but I'm not interested in going as Rachel Jackson, Andy's beloved. She was about two feet shorter than Andrew, for one thing...

Anyway, I found these photos on Pinterest, and they tempt me. What do you think?

This totally cracks me up.
As does this

I would be going as Mary without her chimney-sweeping other half if I wore this.

Ideas? Votes? Let me know what you suggest!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Once upon a time I wrote meditations based on the Daily Office Lectionary (Wednesdays) and sent them out via email to a list of subscribers. What follows is what I wrote on September 12, 2001. It seems fitting to revive it as a measure of reflection on the work that lay ahead, and where we are now.

“If there is any encouragement in Christ, any incentive of love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind.” (Phil. 2:1).

There is no better time to embrace Paul’s words than in the aftermath of national devastation. When shock and disbelief yield to raw emotion, it is natural for anger, fear and vengeance to step front and center to demand attention. And they will. As we discover our own connections to victims of this tragedy, our pain will burrow deeply into the crevices created by the impact of Tuesday’s events. As stories emerge from the wreckage of the World Trade Center and Pentagon, and photographs and video footage imprint themselves into our vulnerable psyches, the desire for justice will burn deeper and deeper within our individual and collective souls.

The temptation will be to assuage our outrage and mitigate our grief with the time honored response of an eye for an eye. We claim that it is human nature to seek vengeance, and it is, but it is also human nature to feel compassion. At a time when our faith has been rocked on its foundation, the encouragement of Christ is what steadies us and keeps us centered. When anger flares it is the love of Christ that transcends the desire to act or speak impulsively. When fear rises from the core of our being it is participation in the spirit that transforms our disabilities into bold actions for good.

To be in Christ is to seek his mind and reflect his love. In the coming days and weeks we have the opportunity to make choices that will demonstrate whether or not we have sought to be in full accord with our savior, and to share in the depth of his love. How we respond to that opportunity will be the measure of our faith. Daily we will be tested, and daily we must pray for the wisdom and courage to follow the example of Christ. It will not be easy, but living in the shadow of the cross has never been easy.

When my community of faith gathered Tuesday night for prayer and worship, the following verse of one of the hymns we sang spoke to our heartache. It reminds us succinctly that we are made in the image of God, and that the single most important aspect of our creation is that we share in his love:
God is love, and love enfolds us, all the world in one embrace: 
with unfailing grasp God holds us, every child of every race. 
And when human hearts are breaking under sorrow’s iron rod,
then we find that self-same aching deep within the heart of God.
As we live within the heart of God we serve those whom we have lost. For the sake of their memory and the glory of God, we honor them best when we act in love.


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