Sunday, June 30, 2013

sunday review, part 1

So... remember my post from last Sunday about the question, "what would you take?" Among the emails worth reading that awaited me this morning was my daily dose of FlyLady. She helps people clean and organize their homes. A life-saver, she is, but I digress.

FlyLady emails are a digest of helpful information related to how we might function day to day in very practical terms. This morning's digest included the following evacuation guide, which makes so much sense! I'm including it here for our collective edification. I think Ken and I will talk about this over breakfast. And just think, every six months you could have an "evacuation party" to enjoy and replace consumables!

1. PEOPLE: Have a plan for getting out of the house and make sure everyone knows it. Have an emergency bag of food and water for your family. Include wholesome snacks and treats for the children: dried fruit, nuts, peanut butter, crackers and granola bars.
2. PETS: Keep pet carriers and leashes readily available to lead pets to safety. Also take pet food with you.
3. PICTURES: Keep negatives or CDs of pictures in a lock box or at a family member’s home. Have picture albums in one place ready to grab and go at a moments notice.
4. PAPERS: Have all your important papers in a lock box at a bank and only keep copies at the house. This keeps you from panicking. If you have them at home then put them in a folder that you can easily grab if you have to move fast. Color code it so you can find it!
5. PRESCRIPTIONS: Take your medications with you. Don’t forget the ones that have to be refrigerated like insulin. Have small ice chest and cold packs readily accessible to pack and go. If you have babies; remember their formula or medications.
6. PURSES and PETROL: This is where you keep your identification, credit cards and cash. Keep a stash of cash for emergencies and grab it. You may not be able to use an ATM in the event of a power outage. Make sure your car always has a half a tank of gas (or keep some gas cans at home).
7. PROPER CLOTHES and COMFORT ITEMS: According to the weather conditions; gather up a change of clothes along with outer clothing: coats, rain gear, boots, gloves and hats. If you have babies remember diapers. Remember to grab your children’s favorite blanket, stuffed animal or toy. A game or a deck of cards could keep them occupied and calm too.
8. PLANNER/CALENDAR/CONTROL JOURNAL: These documents have all the information you will need from phone numbers, insurance numbers and important dates. They are small and filled with things you don’t have to try to remember.
9. PERSONAL PROTECTION: Many of us still have that time of the month. Be sure and grab a box of your preferred protection. It may be hard to find if you have been evacuated. Stress can cause our bodies to do strange things too. So be prepared. Take medication for cramps too. Did you think this was about weapons?
10. PHONES, RADIOS, FUEL FOR THE CAR: Many of us have cell phones now. Always keep them charged up and have a charger in the car or an extra battery. They may not work in the event of power outages, but then they might. Know which local radio station has emergency bulletins. Keep your battery powered radio tuned to that local station and have plenty of batteries for it. Also keep a old type regular phone that does not operate with electricity. GAS PUMPS don’t work without power either. You can’t leave if your car is on empty. So keep your car fuel tank topped off when it hits a half of tank. This way you will have gas to drive at least a couple of hours. Evacuation routes are usually bumper to bumper traffic. Having a tank filled will keep you less stressed.
11. PATIENCE: This is one of the most important things to pack. Keep it inside of you so that you have a clear calm head. Having your P’s to Preparedness list guiding you will keep you patient. In the event of an evacuation there will be lots of displaced people. Being patient will make things less stressful. Your children need to see you calm and collected. This will help keep them calm too.

That seems like enough to digest for today, the rest of this post will appear tomorrow.  Enjoy your Sunday

Friday, June 28, 2013

friday five: take five!

At RevGals Deb invites us to take a plunge with five. Here goes!

1. Five flowers you'd like in a bouquet or in your garden:
Black-eyed Susans (the one thing I actually have in my wannabe garden!)

Lupine (alas, too hot here, but I would still like to have them)

2. Five books you want to read (or re-read):
Quiet (Susan Cain) 

Daring Greatly (Brene Brown)
Anything by Richard Rohr or John O'Donohue
Any of Julia Spencer Fleming's mysteries (I've only read the first)
The Power of Positive Dog Training (Pat Miller).

3. Five places you want to visit:
Cantabria, Spain (photo)

Assorted towns in Germany where my ancestors lived
Machu Pichu
Iguazu Falls (South America)

4. Five people you'd invite for tea/coffee/beer and pizza:
Ellen Degeneres
Henry VIII
Leonardo da Vinci
Helen Keller
Mary Oliver

5. FIve chores or tasks you'd gladly give to someone else:

BONUS: A five ingredient recipe! (This is harder than it sounds!)

Crock Pot Beef Stroganoff

2 pounds stew beef
2 cans condensed golden mushroom soup (not cream of mushroom)
1 large onion, chopped
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
8 oz sour cream

*8 oz. cream cheese

In a 3-quart crock pot, mix together the beef, soup, onion, and pepper. Do NOT add water to the soup. Cook on low for 7-9 hours.

About 15 minutes before serving, cut the cream cheese into cubes and mix into the crock pot. Just before serving, stir in the sour cream. Serve over rice or noodles.

*my recipe didn't include cream cheese in the list of ingredients, but it is referenced in the directions. Good catch by a fella RevGal! I tracked the source and have added it here. Kindly forgive the error.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

road talk

Sunday was a busy day. As noted, we began with church. From there we headed to a gathering of our local Preceptory, a "branch" of our Templar priory (there are four preceptories in our priory given the geographic spread of it: middle Tennessee; Memphis area; northern Alabama and north Georgia; and western North Carolina, east Tennessee, and southwestern Virginia). We shared the day and the ride with our friend Jeri, who sponsored us as Templars. 

Apropos of the question that launched yesterday's post--if your house were burning what three things would you take with you to save--I posed the question to Ken and Jeri. The first thing that came to mind for Jeri was a bell that belonged to her great-grandmother. During the Civil War the bell was used to alert people on the home-place of possible trouble, and in one particular case, the impending arrival of Yankees. Great-grandmother and a few others escaped within inches of their lives, but those who remained weren't so lucky. They were rounded up and locked in the house, which was then set on fire. 

This story catalyzed conversation about the cruelties of war, especially to civilian populations who, for the most part, do their best to stay under the radar and mind their own business from one day to the next, and nonetheless pay tragic prices for living or being in the wrong place at the wrong time. We lamented the mob mentality that leads to heinous acts like this one, and two different, yet related thoughts and questions emerged for me.

At a recent clergy gathering, ethics guru Stanley Hauerwas from Duke University presented a collection of propositions he is putting together for a book. A pacifist, Dr. Hauerwas spends a lot of his time working with military folk on the subject of ethics (Duke's proximity to Ft. Bragg makes this particularly workable). He shared with us his conviction that, when it comes to the life of a soldier (and I use that term broadly to include all military personnel, if I may be forgiven for doing so), the greatest sacrifice is not one's life, but to overcome the basic human instinct not to take the life of another person. I think this perspective is rather amazing and worthy of considerable thought and reflection. It led into what became a focus of our subsequent conversation in the car on our way to our Templar gathering. What happens to people who are generally "good" when the circumstances of their lives take them down roads that lead them to do horrible things to innocent people? When the circumstances subside and the ordinary course of one's life resumes, does the knowledge and memory of what has been done haunt the conscience? 

I know that in some cases it does. A part of my own family's story is that a raid similar to the one described above took place on a family farm in Georgia where my great-great-grandmother spent her days while her husband was off fighting with the Confederate Army. Blessedly the commander of this unit of soldiers had some degree of decency, for although his men trashed the house, stole family possessions, broke china and crystal and cut off the heads of chickens with the shards, lives and buildings were spared, and at least one item of the household was ordered returned to the family. A family bible went home with one of the marauding men, who on his deathbed dictated a letter of remorse and sent it, with the bible, back to a member of the family.

The broader question remains: how do cruel acts committed under the veil of war affect those who commit them? Has there been any study or research conducted on this? I can certainly understand that the shame attached to such behavior would make it unlikely for someone to confess to such behavior. Perhaps some atone for these sins by committing their lives to doing good, productive and helpful things for others. Maybe some are so haunted that they withdraw into themselves and become shells of who they once were. Perhaps others simply do their best to keep one foot in front of the memory and never deal with its wake. Still others may write it off without conscience at all, chalking it up to the nature of the beast that is war. 

I wonder what we could learn from a conversation about it.  I suspect no conversation would change the likelihood of such acts from taking place in future conflicts, but perhaps there would be a way to help heal the minds and souls that are scarred by the reality. All I know for sure is that it inspires me to pray.

Monday, June 24, 2013


I filled in yesterday morning for a clergy colleague who decided to take an impromptu trip out of town over the weekend. In the pocket of time between rolling out of bed and leaving for church I ran through a mental checklist of the things I needed to load into the car: alb, prayer book, did I need to take a stole? I would probably just wear the church's stole and chasuble. I found myself tucking into the folds of that thought with warm pleasure, which inspired a random thought.

Have you ever done the exercise that asks the question, "if your house were burning and you had time to collect three things to take with you, what would you save?" The question hasn't been far from my thoughts as I listen to the stories of people being hastened from their homes with wildfires lapping up the ground approaching their abodes in Colorado. In spite of this, I haven't taken the time to think about my own answer, or at least one answer, until I experienced the satisfying thought of donning the chasuble. I made the chasuble with which I was clothed when I was ordained priest, so I own a chasuble and matching stole. That chasuble is one of the things I would save.

In spite of my vocational struggles and the scars I bear from my tenure serving missions and parishes of the Church, I am still a priest, through and through. The liturgical joy of priesthood was affirmed yesterday as I processed into the church, singing an ancient hymn and taking my place in the chancel to lead the congregation in worship. It was an hour of joy and contentment, filled with hearts and souls hungry to be nourished with the body and blood of Jesus, and sprinkled with wide-eyed children whose hands stretched over the altar rail to receive their portion with smiles that they couldn't hide. I coveted especially the two-year old, who, rather than shake hands at the Peace, offered his fingers curled for a fist bump, and to whom I offered mine during communion along with the blessing I spoke as I made the sign of the cross on his forehead. Any niggling wonder about whether it might be God's desire for me to pack my stoles and put them into storage was effectively quieted. 

The experience of the morning--which included multiple conversations about the sermon--was a reminder that I still have a voice to proclaim the Word and bear witness to the power of the Spirit. It remains to be seen how that voice will be used and what path lies ahead for that purpose, but I have peace and confidence that a way will open and make itself known. In a way, the affirmation of the morning served to loose the bonds that have clung to my soul like the tattered fringe of pain. The gift of healing seals a portion of the past and allows me to move forward with a necessary lightness. Amen to that.

I'm still considering the other two things I would save. Photographs are always a prominent candidate for selection. Thank goodness many are now stored online and spared the potential fate of destruction by fire. There is the painting done by my grandmother of one of the views at Melrose. There is the pastel drawing of one of my dogs that my mother commissioned. A silk-screened celtic design bought at the gift shop of Dunvegan Castle when I toured my beloved Scotland to dance, a reminder of that trip of a lifetime. The icons I wrote. Interesting that these are all works of art...

I am grateful this morning for the opportunity this blog offers to record the reflections of yesterday. Such thoughts so often dissipate into the vapor of the day and merge with countless other moments that become lost in the abyss of memory.

Today marks 18 years of priesthood for me. I am grateful for the affirmation that I followed a path that, despite the slings and arrows suffered along it, has been right. For all the pain and agony along the way there are countless blessings that I cherish and hold deeply in my heart, and in my bones. As the good book says (thank you, Tevye), I am a priest forever (Ps 110:4).

Mazel Tov.

Saturday, June 15, 2013


According to the stats for this blog, I have written 1313 posts before starting this one. A great number, in my book, seeing how it affirms my birth day not once, but twice!

And on that random note, this post will simply catch readers up on the goings on since that 1313th post (actually the one before it, which promised more news than was ever delivered). It's been a busy time, and I'll try to be brief.

We were actually gone more than we were home in May, with trips serving as bookends to the month. You know already about the first trip to Melrose and welcoming Rock to the world. Here are some pictures that ultimately came our way via mom's camera:

Ken has been immersed in a series of historic fiction novels by Sharon Kay Penman, books I read ages ago and thought he would enjoy given our Templar affiliation. These are set in England and Wales in the 13th century, more of less. Unfortunately he hasn't been able to read them in order, but that hasn't dampened his enthusiasm. "For certs!" he would concur!
This is probably the best picture of us that's been taken in a while. 

The porch chairs at Melrose have probably held up for at least 50 years (they sure don't make stuff the way they used to), but were in need of repainting and recovering. Ken sanded, then mom and I started to prime and paint (there were 4 chairs in total). Until Ken came along and hoisted the chairs upside down with a coat hanger and slapped those babies silly with his paint brush and wrapped up the paint project in no time! He and I then took pains to master the craft of attaching the seat covers. It's not as easy as it looks!

Okay, enough Melrose pictures.

The next road trip was to Durham, NC for a wedding, then a trip down to Augusta for a "gender reveal" party. Silly me, I thought everyone knew what this kind of event was about, but I got more blank looks than I would have thought possible. For the uninitiated, a gender reveal party is an event at which the gender of a baby in utero is revealed.  Some of you already know from facebook, but I'll go ahead and diffuse the suspense by sharing that it's a boy! Another boy! That makes five grandsons!

Back to the wedding... here's the bride and groom. I officiated. This is my goddaughter's sister.
From Durham the plan was to join Kenneth and Trisha with Trisha's family for a camp-out before heading to Melrose for a few days. Alas, the camp-out got camped out, so we had to shift gears and make a last minute alternate plan. We did get to enjoy a few hours at the campground before a sunset departure, which allowed for this lovely photo.

We enjoyed some extra time with family between our arrival and the big event, including pool time with the grandsons, and an afternoon at a local park. I love this picture of Ken and Jude.

Our gift to K&T and baby-on-the-way was a plate that everyone at the party was able to sign. The plate then gets baked and the writing becomes permanent. At least that is the idea. Here's a picture of Travis signing said plate on behalf of his family.

And here's a picture of the parents-in-waiting. We were asked to come wearing either pink or blue, thereby attaching ourselves to a team. The reveal happened when a balloon was popped and blue confetti spilled out. 

I realize that this has been far from a newsy post, but I've run out of time putting this together and am duty-bound to go mow the front yard. 

Until next time, whenever that may be, I bid you adieu.


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