Friday, August 14, 2015

friday five: tell me something good!

(you're singing it now, aren't you...)

At RevGals today Marie writes this:

I’ve recently gone back to daily journaling as a spiritual practice and I am astounded at how it’s changing my outlook on life. In my work as a justice activist, I’m often fixated on what’s going wrong. But my journal is helping me to notice so many more things that are good, like my relationship with my spouse, my friends, and even the weather. So for today’s Friday Five, join me in pondering what is good in our lives.

This comes at a good time, as there is too much discouraging me at present.

What’s one good thing happening in your personal (but not TOO personal) life?
I am losing weight! After gaining, gaining, gaining during the last several years, a step on the scale at a doctor's office in February brought my inertia to a screeching halt. I am using an app that tracks my intake and my output (exercise), and helps me stay focused and accountable. A great benefit is that it draws attention to my food choices, and as a result I am eating differently. It also inspires more exercise than I would ordinarily take on. I didn't really take a "before" picture, but when I reach my goal I'll offer some sort of "reveal." Something to which I look forward! (The app is MyFitnessPal, for those who might be interested).
What’s one good thing happening in your work life?
I'm presently seeking a work life. I do have a Sunday gig, which is great, but it's not enough to sustain our household, nor does it adequately feed my desire to serve. But those are negatives. I suppose the positive is that I am seeking. I am about to submit my resume for a prospective job, and I feel good about an above average fit for it. Whatever transpires as a result of this application, the positive practice of offering my gifts and experience to the world is a good thing.
What’s one good thing happening in the area where you live?
Nashville is about to elect a new mayor, and it is likely it will be a woman with progressive ideas and viewpoints. She stands a good chance of winning, and the energy around her candidacy and the campaign is dynamic. 
What’s one good thing happening in the life of someone you love?

Our son and daughter-in-law (above, probably obvious!) are on the verge of welcoming their second son, Eli, into the world. We can't wait! My brother (below) has also just invested some time and focus into promoting his business online (facebook, pinterest, web and blog), and has done a fabulous job.  He refers to himself as a design evangelist (home building design). I'm so proud of him and happy for him. Check it out!
What’s one good thing happening in the world? (I'm going to mention at least 2)
The Iran Nuclear Agreement is a very good thing. Blogging about my participation in a Lobby Day related to this last fall is still on my "git 'r done" list. Maybe now I'll actually write it! I'm also regularly inspired by the oustanding work that some of my colleagues are doing related to human trafficking and racism (respectively). Becca Stevens, of Thistle Farms, is one. The Very Rev. Mike Kinman, dean of the cathedral of the Episcopal Diocese of Missouri, is another. They each bring different gifts to these significant movements, and impact me in different ways. I am grateful for that.

Friday, July 24, 2015

friday five: family traditions

In spite of hosting the Friday Five once a month at RevGals, I haven't played for a while! Let's change that, starting with today. Deb writes:

During a recent family reunion in Lexington, Virginia, I went with some members of my family to see Foamhenge. the creation of Mark Cline that “mysteriously” appeared one April Fools’ Day. It’s a life-sized styrofoam replica of the real deal. (I kid you not.) If you are in to off-the beaten-path, unique family bonding moments, this will do it.

Every family has their own traditions, quirks and follies. So for this week’s Friday Five, tell us about your family/tribe/clan for these 5 distinctive traits:

Favorite Game 

We weren't much of a game family, at least not when we were at home. But take us on the road and we new rituals emerge.
I grew up with a card game called "Flinch," which has its own unique deck of cards that include sets that go from 1 to 15. The idea was to build on common piles going up from 1 and down from 15. A flinch pile was also involved. We also played multi-hand solitaire, as demonstrated below (seven hands).

Favorite Sports Team
We weren't much of a sports family. Afflicted with polio when he was seven, my dad didn't play sports, and this probably colored our preferences. Neither of my brothers played team sports, although my older brother was on swim and tennis teams. In junior high I was highly influenced by my best friend's family, who were devotees of the Montreal Canadiens, a National Hockey League team. They were then, and continue to be, my team, although my attention waned in college when I lived in a non-hockey area.
Birthday tradition
I'm sure we're not unique in honoring the birthday girl or boy with a choice of meal or flavor cake, but nothing else stands out as a tradition. My own favorite meal was beef fondue. I remember that my brother always had chocolate cake with coffee-flavored icing (below--birthday boy on the right).

The place that you collectively call “Home” (even if none of you live there any more.)
I'm the only one who has left the geographic nest, but Connecticut is still home to me, and always will be.
Family Vacation Spot
In the summer we were fortunate that a cousin had a home in Hyannisport, on Cape Cod, and that was our go-to spot until I was in college. The house had beachfront, which was great, and we had a distinctive view of Marine One coming in for a landing at the Kennedy Compound there. Summers at the Cape hold a vast store of cherished memories (below).
Our other place is a family-owned tree farm in South Carolina (above). Once a peach farm run by my great-grandfather, it now yields timber from loblolly pines. With rare exceptions I have gone there every year of my life. It shares the distinction, with Scotland, of being my spiritual home.
BONUS: Family Dessert: Every family has one. That yummy, calorie-laden delight that frequents your table at parties or holidays. Share the recipe, or (if it’s a family secret) share a photo.
Hands down, Mom's brownies. They were a staple of family gatherings, but also a symbol of hospitality to others. She made them to welcome new neighbors, to take to committee meetings, and to say thank you for a kindness shown. She and I recently made a batch to take to the nursing unit where she spent a couple of weeks in rehab after a recent fall, as a way to say thank you for their care. I have even used them as a sermon illustration on All Saints Day to talk about the idea of legacies (the recipe came from my grandmother), and the communion of saints. Mom happened to be in town that weekend, so we made several batches that were packaged individually to give to the kids, along with a copy of the recipe.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

this just in...

Justice has been delivered for Shelby. I have just learned that her husband has been found guilty of first degree murder, and has been sentenced to a mandatory life sentence, with no parole. Amen, and amen.

Friday, January 23, 2015

for Shelby

Within reach of where I sit at my desk is a candle. I keep it nearby for those occasions when I want to keep a prayer concern going for longer than I can remain focused on it consciously, and where the flame (and sometimes the fragrance) will catch my attention over the course of its lighting to bring me back to the reason I lit it in the first place. It's my version of Paul's admonishment to pray without ceasing. Well, it's one version. 

This morning I lit the candle for Shelby Wilkie, the niece of a friend and colleague. Shelby was killed by her husband two years ago, and this week he goes on trial for her murder. She was in the process of leaving him as his physical abuse toward her not only jeopardized her life, but that of their infant daughter.

It has been agonizing to witness the impact of this tragedy from afar (my friend lives in Michigan, her niece was in in North Carolina), but distance does not lessen the importance of being present to and for my friend in whatever way I can, nor does it prevent me from adding my voice to those who seek a world where anger doesn't translate as violence, and every human being is empowered to feel significant and worthy.

As the court seeks justice for Shelby, I invite each of us to do at least one thing today to affirm a person whose confidence may be low, to extend a hand to someone who is isolated, to embrace someone who has withdrawn, to speak for someone who can't find his or her voice, and to love, by whatever means available, those we hold dear, and those we keep at a distance. 

Connect, smile, hug, reach. For the Shelbys of this world, and for us all.


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