Friday, December 12, 2008

sounds like good stewardship to me

"It is necessary to recover some basic dimensions of finances, that is, the primacy of labor over capital, of human relationships over mere financial transactions, of ethics over the sole criterion of efficacy."

-- Archbishop Celestino Migliore, the Vatican's permanent observer to the United Nations, on the global financial crisis (quoted by

Thursday, November 27, 2008

What's been going on

To make a long story long, I really need for Dragon naturally speaking to work correctly. So I have to train it. Therefore, you will get posts that are too long and have too much detail with the sole purpose being to help me train DNS.

I sincerely apologize for the drudgery, the whining, and the extraordinary amount of detail that is completely unnecessary. If you are looking for an upside: it does put something to read on my blog.

TMI Chapter 1: education

I passed comprehensive exams!
I was convinced that I would receive conditions (conditions must be completed before beginning anything to do with the dissertation). I received a question that was dramatically different from what I was told to expect. When I finished answering the question asked, I knew that I would have a condition related to that. But I didn't.

There's a five person committee (professors from the department) that prepares the essay questions for each student. Most of the professors will communicate with the student and give some indication of the nature of the questions to be asked, the areas to be covered, or specific items that are “helpful” to know -- which usually means “memorize” this. In many ways, through professors and students, the repeated advice was “know” the theories and their theorists.

It was a huge compliment when, following the oral interview with all five professors, my chair said to me, “of all those sitting for comps this time, it was very clear you had the best grasp of theory." When I met with her a week later she asked, “has it sunk in yet?” I said, I keep wondering if they really meant it. And if maybe I got a “preacher pass.” She said, “let me assure you there is no such thing. You earned it.”

So now I am officially admitted to candidacy, and in dissertation phase. I'm working on clergy and grief. I'm still working on defining the parameters but if you would be willing to be considered for an interview say-so in the comments.

TMI Chapter 2: rheumatoid arthritis and “Big Dog” medicine

The Remicade begin failing in the spring . Anticipating the need to change to a different biologic, my RA doctor gave me brochures for Orencia and Rituxan in June. And the head nurse was given instructions to begin the paperwork to get insurance approval. During the July appointment, approval in not yet been received and the doctor’s clinic had been bought out/merged with a larger group which required a completely different computer system, different billing department, different insurance department, different lab protocols, and different lab personnel.

By August the office changes were not as stressful. And, they had received insurance approval three days before my appointment day. good enough. So I started Orencia August 4 and had appointments at two week intervals for the first three doses. I found out that Orencia is a “slow load" During the first infusion (it is delivered via I. V.), and that results are not usually noticeable until three months. That was well past the date for comprehensive exams and I was quite concerned about my ability to function.
I was having pain that my doctor identified as nerve pain rather than the usual muscle and joint pain. I don't remember my RA being inflamed enough to add nerve pain during any previous flares. But once identified, Lyrica was added. It made a dramatic difference in three days time. It gave me, “Swiss cheese” brain but managed the pain.

So my thought processes were not what I wanted. I had significant difficulty walking, and my shoulders were very painful. But my hands were fine for typing and writing.

I'm now far enough into the dosing that I can tell it is working, but it's not fully effective yet. At least that's my hope; that I will continue to feel better. I still battle fatigue that is very thick. As a side note,. There was an interesting event that developed in October when the insurance declined to pay for the Orencia . Yes, The pre-approved medicine was denied. It is billed at $3000 per dose. I think it's straightened out now, but it made for some frustrating phone calls that involved too much Muzak and too many transfers with not enough clear answers.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

All Saints

When the Vietnam Memorial in Washington, DC was designed, there was a controversy over which design should be selected. A wonderful young Asian-American artist submitted an unusual design -- a partially buried, long wall of polished black granite. Most who saw the proposal did not like it at first. It did not look like a typical memorial. There were no heroic figures of warriors. There were no representative generals. All that was there were a long list of all those who had fallen in the American forces in Vietnam.

Thousands of names were listed, not in alphabetical order, for that would be like listing them in the phone book, but rather in the order of the date in which they fell.

If you have ever visited the Vietnam Memorial, you know that it has a stunning effect. The most memorable effects are those rows and rows of names. So many names. And there is an additional effect. As we stand at the wall, looking at the names, suddenly we realize that we see our won face reflected in the polished black granite. We stand there, looking at ourselves, our own reflection, our own face, with all the names of the dead.

In a way, this is what All Saints' is like. We remember the saints, all of them, not just the more notable martyrs, but your Sunday school teachers when you were a child, your parents, the preacher, all those who have preceded you in this church and in the faith. And yet, as we remember their names, we see ourselves reflected in them. We join the procession down through the ages. We take our places along with them. We focus on the saints and we see our own contemporary faces reflected in their names.

Friday Five from RevGalBlogPals

Revgalblogpal Friday Five: Positive Potpourri Edition

as posted by will smama

Greetings friends! It's been awhile since I've contributed to the posts here at the revgalblogpals website, but I agreed to step into the Fifth Friday of the Month Friday Five slot.

So here I be.

As I zip around the webring it is quite clear that we are getting BUSY. "Tis the season" when clergy and laypeople alike walk the highwire from Fall programming to Christmas carrying their balancing pole with family/rest on the one side and turkey shelters/advent wreaths on the other.

And so I offer this Friday Five with 5 quick hit questions... and a bonus:

1) Your work day is done and the brain is fried, what do you do?

Watch a previously recorded episode of some tv show that I didn't have time to watch when it actually aired. maybe read a fiction book. maybe crochet -- but that one is a big maybe.

2) Your work week is done and the brain is fried (for some Friday, others Sunday afternoon), what do you do?

If it's Sunday, it's a nap. If it's Friday, it's a football game because the SportsQueen is in the marching band. If it's any other liberated time, geocaching! well, even if it's not liberated time, it's geocaching if I can.

3) Like most of us, I often keep myself busy even while programs are on the tv. I stop to watch The Office and 30 Rock on Thursday nights. Do you have 'stop everything' tv programming or books or events or projects that are totally 'for you' moments?

There are no "stop everything" tv programming events that's what the DVR is for. If it's totally "for me" it's probably sleep.

4) When was the last time you laughed, really laughed? What was so funny?

The best laugh I have had recently that was not generated by my family was listening to 3 daughters tell stories about their mom in preparation for her funeral. (I got called in because none of them are local but the cemetary plot next to her husband/their dad is here.) OMG, their mom was SO creatively funny. And the stories are unique enough that they would pop up on search engine radar so if you are that curious send me an email or call me.

5) What is a fairly common item that some people are willing to go cheap on, but you are not.

crutches. I have bright yellow powder coated crutches with brightly colored arm and hand pads with a detachable bag (my "crutchware" is no longer available so I'm not linking to a pic of them). I may have a body that requires the use of assistive devices but that does not mean I need to be boring about it. I got mine from LemonAid Crutches.

Bonus: It's become trite but is also true that we often benefit the most when we give. Go ahead, toot your own horn. When was the last time you gave until it felt good?

I was part of the very last minute help to serve food at our local homeless shelter. I didn't really have the time, like usual, there were others things to do. I got the phone call to please come help as I waited to pick up the SportsQueen from basketball practice. We went straight to the shelter. After serving, on the way to the car, the SportsQueen said, "Thanks, Mom. I really wanted to do that but I didn't think we were going to be able to. I'm really glad we came. Thanks."

Let us know in the comments if you played and I'll come around and visit. The first 50 are entered into a drawing for a new car (sorry, that's a lie. We are immersed in political attack ads here in the US that lie and so I thought I would join in). Seriously, go ahead and let us know if you play. I will visit. And buy you a new house (lie). The last person to do the Friday Five is a socialist and hangs out with computer viruses (STOP!). Do I qualify as a socialist???

Friday, September 26, 2008

comps outcome

I passed comps! totally and completely!!!

I am officially in dissertation phase

ABD (all but dissertation)

And a doctoral candidate

Friday, August 29, 2008

too many what?

If you follow this link , you will discover that my problem is too many Smurfs ...

how old are those researchers?12?

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

comprehensive exams begin in 3 weeks

“If you are distressed by anything external,
the pain is not due to the thing itself,
but to your estimate of it;
and this you have the power to revoke at any moment.”
Marcus Aurelius

Monday, August 11, 2008


I subscribe to the Comic Strip "For Better or Worse" through my feed reader. Today's strip is about a wedding but the last panel made me think of Facebook. See what you think here

Monday, August 04, 2008

the application of theory update

Today, I received the first dose of Orencia. Yeah! The insurance approval came through on Wed July 30 late in the afternoon. But the infusion nurse was out of the office on Thursday and Friday, so when I called on Friday to check the status of the request, the "office" nurse thought it was approved but not positive. I found out, for sure, when I got there this morning.

The first three doses are administered at two week intervals. The next doses are August 19 and September 3. Comprehensive exams begin September 9. Today, I was told that Orencia tends to have a slow start -- not exactly what I wanted to hear. How long? It may take 3 months to really tell the difference. The infusion nurse said a lot of her patients have told her they could tell the difference in 6 weeks.

side note: A long time ago, I thought I would be an MD. When I finally relented to the call that was so powerful, I said to God, "Fine. If I can't be an MD then I want to be a PhD." The timing and money fell into place for the PhD all the way up to this point.

So, at this point in the intersection of PhD and arthritis, I am consciously choosing to keep trying to study and adopting the mantra, "The God who brings you to it will bring you through it."

Sunday, July 27, 2008


As requested by Cheesehead

software solutions update

Things learned on a Saturday night:

  • The mouse wheel noise is "room room room room."
  • The headphone cord picks up movement and creates spontaneous editorial comments.
  • The on and off positions for the microphone icon are not appropriate for someone who is 12.
  • Sometimes commands become commentary.
  • Speaking louder does not increase understanding.
  • It does not recognize most of the seven words you can't say on tv.
  • Laughter is poorly translated into a repeated word. The word chosen is dependent on pitch.
Predicted outcome: I don't think it will significantly add time to my work after enough training has happened.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

I see the resemblance


1. Sit in a straight, comfortable chair in a well lighted place with a fully-charged laptop.

2. Read over the scripture carefully, to make certain you understand it.

3. Take a quick trip to Starbucks to buy some coffee to help you concentrate.

4. Make a quick call to clergy colleague to see if she's started her sermon, either. If neither of you has started, you might meet up somewhere for a quick bite to help you concentrate. If she casually says that she finished hers last Tuesday and was just brushing up on her delivery, hang up quickly and pray for the future of your friendship.

5. When you get back to your room, sit in a straight, comfortable chair in a clean, well lighted place with with a fully-charged laptop.

6. Read over the scripture again to make absolutely certain you understand it.

7. Check your e-mail; reply to everyone who sent you messages.

8. You know, you haven't thought about your Jr. High band camp roommate in years... You'd better look her up on Facebook right now and get it out of the way so you can concentrate.

9. Go look at your tongue in the bathroom mirror.

10. Download that song you've been wanting to add to your collection, and that's it - I mean it - as soon as that's done you are going to start that sermon. (This, of course, involves digging out your iPod from your gym bag, which necessitates starting a load of laundry.)

11. Put together a photo slide show using new song as background. Send it to everyone you know.

12. Check your e-mail again. (Do not - EVER - read email from members of your congregation that arrive at this crucial time. No good will come of this.)

13. Head for the bookshelf to find inspiration. (Perhaps that illustration you need is in that blue book you bought at that conference and never read.) Organize your library so books will be easier to find in the future.

14. Phone a clergy colleague and ask if he's started writing yet. Exchange derogatory remarks about your congregation, your D.S., your Bishop, and the Conference.

15. Sit in a straight, comfortable chair in a clean, well lighted place with a fully-charged laptop.

16. Read over the scripture again; roll the words across your tongue; savor their special flavor.

17. Check your e-mail to make sure no-one sent you any urgent messages since the last time you checked. Check Facebook while you're at it. It might be your turn to play Scrabulous!

18. Check the listings to make sure you aren't missing something truly worthwhile on TV. NOTE: When you have a sermon due in less than 12 hours, anything on TV from Masterpiece Theater to Sgt. Preston of the Yukon is truly worthwhile. Hey, there might be a sermon illustration lurking on that infomercial!

19. Check Facebook again. Maybe that friend from Jr. High accepted your friend request.

20. Phone your clergy friend to see how her sermon's going. Make fun of other sermons you read posted on the Internet.

21. Go look at your teeth in the bathroom mirror.

22. Check Facebook. Maybe someone wrote on your wall. Challenge a friend to a Scrabulous game.

23. Sit down and do some serious thinking about your plans for the future.

24. Open your door and see if it's too cloudy for stars tonight.

25. Sit in a straight, comfortable chair in a clean, well lighted place with a fully-charged laptop.

26. Read over the scripture one more time. Perhaps you missed something earlier.

27. Put the laundry in the dryer. Make a list of things you must buy at the store tomorrow.

28. Check your e-mail. Put your new photo slideshop on your MySpace page.

29. Scoot your chair across the room to the window and watch the sunrise.

30. Lie face down on the floor and moan.

31. Leap up and write your sermon.

edited later: I got this from an email forward from another clergywoman

Friday, July 25, 2008

Friday Five twofer from RevGalBlogPals

Friday Five: What You Absolutely, Positively, Can't Leave Home Without

as posted by Singing Owl on July 25, 2008

We will be at a chaplain's convention when you all are answering the Friday Five Questions. I'll look forward to reading your answers next week when I get home. At the moment we are trying to get the car loaded so we can hit the road, so this will be a simple F.F. This running around madly in order to leave has me wondering: what are the five things you simply must have when you are away from home? And why? Any history or goofy things, or stories?
1. books
2. medication
3. gps loaded with geocaches
4. laptop
5. if traveling with children, dvds and player

Multiple time events in our family:

When I was a child going to spend the night with grandparents, I would "forget" to pack pajamas because then I got to sleep in one of grandpa's t-shirts.

When the SportsQueen packed her own clothes (for multiple days), no socks were included even though she needed them.

When the Entertainer travels, there is a stuffed animal that goes along. She has also traveled via the United States Postal Service, FedEx, and UPS.

The Friday Five: What's in a name?

as posted by RevHRod on July 18, 2008

If you are a regular reader of Songbird's blog, you know that "The Princess" has requested a new name. Her older brother changed his "secret identity" a while back and now this lovely young lady is searching for a new name on her mother's blog. This got me to thinking. How do we come up with all of these names? There must be at least a few good stories out there.

In honor of the Princess I have posted a picture of one of my favorite members of fictional royalty, Robert Munch's "Paperback Princess." She is a brave young woman who doesn't need anyone else to fight her battles. And she knows that what is most important isn't tiaras and finery but what's on the inside. If you haven't read this little fairy tale, I highly recommend it. But I digress.

BONUS: We LOVE the Paperbag Princess! "hey dragon" for a great review and telling of the story click here

1. So how did you come up with your blogging name? And/or the name of your blog?

Well, the Vicar part came from Vicar of Dibley and trying to be geographically appropriate for the place. The place is the "hometown" for Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. While some Christians have criticized the Harry Potter books for various "anti-Christian" themes, it was apparent to me from the first book that the themes and values share a deep affinity with Christianity if they are not based on Christianity (which I really think they are). I'd like to think that somewhere in the back story the Vicar of Hogsmeade was a regular part of the lives of many of the faculty at Hogwarts even if not so involved with the students.

2. Are there any code names or secret identities in your blog? Any stories there?

The names have been changed to protect whomever needs protecting. Generally, they reflect characteristics or they are the first lame pseudonymn I could create.

3. What are some blog titles that you just love? For their cleverness, drama, or sheer, crazy fun?

preacher, blogger, procrastinator
St. Casserole
Cheesehead in paradise
cafe diem (it's about coffee)
skewed view (one of the re-occuring conversations in my PhD program is about how we all have a skewed view but some of us are better at identifing ours)

4. What three blogs are you devoted to? Other than the RevGalBlogPals blog of course!

I use bloglines to keep track of them all.

5. Who introduced you to the world of blogging and why?

Mostly it was RevGalBlogPals. I wanted to answer a Friday Five but I didn't have a blog. So I started one to tell about how I got to play Jesus in a Southern Baptist church.

Bonus question: Have you ever met any of your blogging friends? Where are some of the places you've met these fun folks? I was on BE 1.o. And I met Mid-Life Rookie because of an obsure reference to a place that closed several years ago.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

software solutions

In an attempt to reconcile myself with the functionality of my body and my need to produce documents, I have obtained a well known voice recognition software program. This is proof that it really does work pretty well.

On the advice of Disability Services at the University where I am scheduled for comps, I was exploring the software options before the most recent arthritis concern. Just in case. Now, I think that was pretty good advice. The software package came with a wired microphone headset that seems to work well. However, if I upgrade to a Bluetooth headset microphone, I can even wander around while writing.

I guess the next thing to do is to write my sermons with this program. So then I will get used to it before I have to take comps.

The most awkward thing so far is actually speaking my thoughts out loud. I'm so used to typing my thoughts that speaking them is odd.

And then there's the editing, I don't have it completely figured out yet. But a few mouse movements and keyboard strokes go a long way.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

when the theory applies

The Theory
Excerpted from Ask the Expert (While this refers to psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis, I have Rheumatoid Arthritis and the facts here are also applicable to me.)

"All 3 anti-TNF medications (etanercept [ Enbrel ], adalimumab [ Humira ], and infliximab [ Remicade ]) have been shown to be amazingly effective and safe in the treatment of psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis. However, a few important anti-tumor necrosis factor (TNF) realities must be appreciated, all gleaned from a worldwide experience with these wonderful new medications over these past 5 years: [huge snip of of points 1 and 2 which also apply but aren't the particular focal point for this post]

All of the anti-TNFs may "run out of gas" to one degree or another after 2-3 years, and some type of medication switch or dose change is needed. "

The Application
Two years ago I maxed out the dosage while losing effectiveness for Humira and switched to Remicade. Now I am 0.5 mg/kg short of maxed out on dosage for Remicade and I am very clear that it is no longer effective. (My methotrexate has increased and I am very clear that it is providing as much relief as it can. But it's kinda like a 4-cylinder car trying to do the work of an 8-cylinder truck.) My next dose is scheduled for the first week of August. Depending on insurance, I may receive a new medication by then (probably Orencia). I am so clear about the lack of effectiveness of the Remicade that I called my RA's office on Friday to make sure the paperwork with the insurance company is being done. I rarely follow up with them because they are so efficient. That phone call really was a reflection of my anxiety.

Let me elaborate. The anxiety is driven, in no small part, by the fact that I am scheduled to sit for comprehensive exams for my PhD in September. A delay in the paper work or approval by insurance means a deteriorating ability to study which is already compromised by "brain fog." "Brain fog" is one of those things that you usually learn about from others taking methotrexate not the doctors, although some of them do tell you. Brain fog tends to occur close to the dosage day and your brain is slower, better with recognition than recall, and sometimes stuff is just gone. As you move away from the dosage day, clarity returns. With the increase of the methotrexate, I've had an increase in side effects that my body had pretty much adapted to on the lower dosage so I've had a return of brain fog that I was kinda used to not having. And, further more, since the Remicade is failing, I am noticing the drop off of the relief provided by the methotrexate toward the end of the week. So when I don't have brain fog, I have pain -- which isn't so conducive to thinking either.

So now, already overwhelmed with the task of organizing and studying for comps, I have added brain fog, pain, and fatigue. So, am asking for you to pray for these things: 1) that the paperwork is completed in a timely manner and the insurance approves the switch for the first week of August; 2) that I can set aside the "overwhelmedness" long enough to get some focus for the organization needed to study; and, 3) that I can actually have productive study time.

And applications for study buddies are open now.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

planting seeds

The more I read and hear about Josh Hamilton the more impressed I am with Johnny Narron, Clay Council, and Josh's family, especially his grandmother.

While there's not as much information about Clay Council and his relationship with Josh, I'm thinking that a 71 year old who still pitches batting practice for teenagers has got some influence on the lives of young people. Obviously, Josh remembered him enough to ask him to pitch for the Home Run Derby.

John Donne got it right: No one is an island.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

well said

Elizabeth Edwards wrote an incredible article reflecting on the death of Tony Snow. Be sure you read it

a Pam Tinnin story

When this story was originally shared through a public email list for preachers Rev. Pamela J. Tinnin was pastor of Partridge Community Church-UCC, the only church in Partridge, KS, USA (population 250).

“Last week I spent some time in the waiting room of a social service agency in Hutchinson. Except for the large woman with bright red hair who sat behind the desk, there was only one other person there, a thin woman who looked to be in her early forties. In blue jeans worn white at the knees and a sleeveless cotton blouse, she looked tired, her eyes sunk deep in the sockets, her hair lying in damp curls. I was waiting to talk to one of the staff people about a project I’m trying to organize, a volunteer chaplaincy program for people who find themselves homeless and in dire straits.

Glancing over, I saw that the woman was looking out the window at the street, her eyes sad, her hands held still in her lap, her feet in the scuffed tennis shoes side-by-side, flat on the floor.

I picked up a year old Readers Digest and began flipping through the pages, past the ads, past the jokes, past the uplifting stories. To be honest, at that moment, I didn’t have the energy to take on anyone else’s problems and she looked like problems came in the door with her. Early that morning I’d had some bad news from California. Pretending to read, all I could think of was how little I could do for the woman sitting across from me, much less my family, almost 2,000 miles away.

Just then a whispery, rough voice said, “Are you in trouble?” I looked up, and then behind me, thinking the slender woman was talking to someone else, someone who’d come in when I wasn’t looking. But when I turned back she was still waiting for me to answer. “Me?” I asked. “In trouble?”

She ducked her head then, like she was embarrassed, but answered. “Your face…you look like something bad has happened…like you feel really lost.”

I couldn’t speak for a minute and could feel myself flush with shame, me thinking all the time she had wanted something from me. Then to my surprise, I told her what had happened, told her how hopeless I felt, told her how more than anything I kept hoping for a miracle. She moved closer and sat down in the next chair. She told me not to give up hope, that miracles do happen. “About five or six years ago I got into smokin’ dope; then it was cocaine and meth…my husband left me…then he went to court and took my kids away,” she said. “I thought my world had come to an end…I didn’t believe in anything…not my family or friends…not even God,” she said, and smiled a funny smile that only curved one side of her mouth.

I didn’t know what to say, so I just kept quiet and patted her arm.

“But you know, just when I’d almost given up, I met some folks who gave me another chance,” she said. “They gave me a place to live; helped me get a job. Pretty soon, I’m gonna get my own place…try to get my kids back, least part of the time. Don’t you worry,” she said, “things work out.”

“But you don’t understand,” I said, “I’m a pastor…I’m supposed to have answers…I’m supposed to be the one who knows how to help everyone, how to fix things.”

“The way I look at it,” the woman said, smiling this incredible smile that seemed to light up the small room, “that’s the work of all of us … we all got to help each other … who else is gonna do it?” And she tipped her head then and winked. “This is a hard old world,” she said. “We got to be there for each other. Don’t you think that’s the good Lord’s plan for things?”

Just then a woman in a suit, a clipboard in her hand, came through the door and said, “Mrs. Holcomb?”

The woman in the worn jeans stood, reached down and slung an old blue backpack onto her shoulder. She stepped past me, then turned back and hugged me hard. I could smell the shampoo she’d used and I glimpsed five tiny silver hoops in a neat row along her ear.

“Good luck,” I told her, “and thank you…thank you.”

She walked away and I sat there thinking how easy it is to look at someone and not even see who she is … not even see that she's a unique and amazing child of God, someone who has come into our life to give us a blessing. None of us has a lock on God’s grace; none of us — pastor or president or homeless person — no one is more special than any other. In the First Letter of Peter, Chapter 2:9, it says, “…you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people.” It doesn’t say some of you … it says you, as in all of you. That woman in the waiting room was right … each of us is called to care for each other — it’s the work of all of us. As she said, “We all got to help each other…who else is gonna do it?” It is pure arrogance to think that one person is called to be all things to all people. When we falter, someone else will reach out a hand and help us walk on down the road. Then there will be the days when our turn will come and hopefully we'll be the ones to reach out that helping hand. Sometimes this is a hard, old world and “we got to be there for each other.”

Monday, July 07, 2008

Guess what we're doing tonight?

We have free tickets and probably it'll "be a shame" but I get to have a Hebrew National 1/4 lb dog with grilled onions!

Friday, July 04, 2008

Happy 4th

hat tip to my long lost cousin who doesn't even know I read his blog :)

Tuesday, July 01, 2008


two shopping carts have been used

two hard drives have been ordered

two hard drives have a status of shipped

two computers should be upgraded soon

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

If Everyone Cared

We played this at camp as one more way to say that one person can make a difference. The 5th and 6th graders were singing along louder than the pretty loud sound system. I hope they can latch onto the power they each have to make a difference.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Going home from camp

I had loaded the car with all of my stuff and was moving the car in order to get the things belonging to the other two who were riding with me. This is what the radio was playing when I started it.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

oh, so that's it

Did you know that June is torture awareness month?

So, THAT'S what my kids were doing ... raising awareness

church camp

I am a leader for the soon-to-start church camp. We have roughly 200 kids registered. A few more girls than boys. We have a full slate of volunteers for the girls and we are desperately understaffed for the boys. We have a contingency plan, phone calls, email, etc for recruiting.

But what I really want to know is: How is it that the Bishop can preach about professions of faith being necessary for the survival of the church and neither he nor any of his District Superintendents or Conference Directors (9 men and 2 women) are volunteers at camp?

Our church camp is a great opportunity to shape the faith of young people so they will, with integrity, reach a point of making a profession of faith. Our church is wringing its hands over the lack of young clergy. Maybe those young people were children who went to church camp where there were no clergy to set an example and be available for conversation. Maybe those kids needed some one other than the clergy in the home church to help them recognize God's call on their lives -- not just as future clergy -- but as baptized Christians living out their faith each and every day. Sometimes camp is a place where God is heard differently and clergy can help shape the faith of a young person in a way that doesn't happen on Sunday morning in "church" clothes. And, maybe, a bishop or district superintendent could live out ministry for 5 days with a bunch of kids for one small shot that God could whisper the name of a kid at church camp and that kid would experience a transformation.

or maybe not

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

what's your science project?

The last science project that I got to "mother" was about a certain mathematical pattern found naturally occurring in nature. I got to paint pine cones and pineapples.

The one before that had hot wheels and hot wheel tracks.

In my opinion, this science project should earn a full ride scholarship

Wednesday, May 21, 2008


I was tagged by Mid-Life Rookie. Good thing she told me herself since Bloglines didn't.

The rules of the game get posted at the beginning. Each player answers the questions about himself or herself. At the end of the post, the player then tags five people and posts their names, then goes to their blogs and leaves them a comment, letting them know they’ve been tagged and asking them to read your blog. Yadayadayada

Ten years ago: I was preparing to move to a small country two-point charge and trying to find childcare for a 4 year old and 1 year old. Everything worked out much better than anyone realistically thought it would. Which tells me, God had something to do with it.

Five things on today's "to do" list: 1) Get SportsQueen out of school early to take her to an appointment with regular pediatrician's clinic to confirm the "mono" diagnosis of the "doc-in-a-box." 2) Call and confirm volunteers for summer camp. 3) Pre-register SportsQueen for accelerated summer school. 4) Purchase more inhaler spacers for the Entertainer (oh shoot, that's now on tomorrow's list). 5) Give pep talk to lay person who is organizing Emmaus gathering at her church.

Things I'd do if I was a billionaire: Buy a house. Pay for someone to tend to the needs of the house particularly the cleaning part. Pay for my kids' higher education. Help my sister have enough money/resources to be the stay at home mom she really wants to be. Create an endowment to fund vacations for single clergy women (particularly ones with kids at home) to fun places. Help Heifer International. Travel to lots of places I haven't been and some I have.

Three bad habits: procrastination, thinking I don't need any help, not using the terrific organizational skills I have to put my office in order

Five places I've lived: the Ozarks, the home of Amelia Earhart, down the road from Arrowhead Stadium, in the country where the nearest grocery store was 25 miles away, in the largest city in the US with no public transportation

Five jobs I've had: lifeguard, temporary for USPS, teller, secretary, pastor

Five people I'm tagging: Cheesehead, Ruby, Grace by the Sea, Verde, God Guuurrrlll

well said

When Robert Louis Stephenson, racked by tuberculosis, was nearing the end of his life, his wife came in one morning and said, "I suppose in spite of all your trouble, you will tell me again that it is a beautiful day."

The great novelist answered, "Yes, my dear. I refuse to let that row of medicine bottles be the circumference of my horizon."

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

best wedding story I've heard in a long time

Posted on PRCL by Dawn Dickerson

"My florist was part of a wedding where the invitation read something like, "Please refrain from wearing dark or bold colours to the ceremony. Examples of acceptable colours are taupe, cream, beige, sage " etc.

So florist, who is at the wedding hanging out in the background with the wedding planner is looking out at this well co-ordinated and very bland congregation and notices an older woman with short FLAMING red dyed hair. So, he turns to the planner and asks, 'Who is that angel with the beautiful hair?!'

The planner replied, 'That is Great Aunt Ruth. Great Aunt Ruth is 92 years old and thought she would not need to add anything else to her wardrobe for the rest of her life. She was looking forward to wearing her favourite red dress when she got the invitation and had to buy a new outfit. So, she bought the outfit and dyed her hair the colour of the dress she wanted to wear.'"

the last class

According to the online grade book for the last class for PhD:
points earned: 1081
percentage: 88.244897959183673469387755102041 %
letter grade posted: A
building relationships with professors (aka being a teacher's pet): priceless

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

update (otherwise known as procrastinating)

I am almost finished with the paperwork (Is it still called paperwork if it is all electronic? Are they still papers if you never print them?) required for my last doctoral class. I have a system that works well for me most of the time: sit on the end of the couch closest to the lamp, prop feet up on coffee table, use the rest of the couch as a desk, strategically place reference books on the floor, and, turn on tv.

I managed to crank out some serious verbiage today with this system.

But it's quite humid here and The Entertainer is having a smidge trouble breathing so she planted herself on the other end of the couch for a breathing treatment. She then had the audacity to fall asleep! Nevermind that it was already well past her bedtime -- she's on MY DESK SPACE!!!

I'm gonna have to move my system to my bed. Where I may very well fall asleep, instead of cranking out the last bit of required verbiage.

some people

Saturday, May 03, 2008

It's not what you know, it's who you know

Now that the funeral service is all over, let me say it was an adventure finding a pianist.

Our fabulous pianist was already committed to rehearsals accompanying students practicing for solo competition. Many other capable pianists were involved in a piano contest at the local university. After talking to our pianist, from 9:15 am to about 2:00 pm, I called 5 methodist churches, 1 Christian (Disciples of Christ) pastor, 1 Presbyterian elder (who happens to teach piano to the Entertainer), Mid-Life Rookie, multiple musicians whose numbers I received as possible suggestions, and one of my best friends that I've known for 14 years who suggested another pianist that I've known for 15 years. I had already called her but my friend said, "I'll call her. She'll call you back in a minute." And she did and she did.

We worked together on staff all those years ago. So I had no worries about her skill or her flexibility. And she played and sang. As a matter of fact, she's the one that suggested the songs -- that were perfect. And, before the service, when I said, the other job that you didn't know you had is to pray that I don't say something stupid. She said, "You won't. You'll be fabulous. Well, here ..." and she grabbed my hand and prayed right then and there.

Doubly blessed

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Sat 5/3

On Saturday, instead of attending the last class session for my last doctoral class, I will be officiating the service for a 30 year old who was murdered.

There are way more questions than answers.

His grandmother is one of the very active older members of my church. He was living with her when I first came here almost 3 years ago. So, while I didn't know him well, I did know him and had talked to him casually. I just recently learned that he was divorced and had a 7 yr old son.

Please pray for his family. Pray that the police officers who are working the case get the information they need to bring answers to the family. Pray that in this difficult time there will be much kindness and gentleness.

I, for once, have a crisis for which I have had training and so have been able to be helpful to the family. However, I've never had to officiate a service like this before so I could use some prayers that the sermon is what it needs to be.

And, prayers that I actually get the course work completed on time, might be a good idea, too.

Monday, April 28, 2008

sweet dreams

Now, on Land and Sea Descending is one of my favorite hymns but since it is an "evening" hymn, we never sing it. Even though I pick the hymns, I haven't yet "made" my church sing it. It's on YouTube as an organ solo but there it's too "straight." I hear it as a lullaby/prayer that helps one settle into sleep. You can hear a snippet of the right style here

1. Now, on land and sea descending,
brings the night its peace profound;
let our vesper hymn be blending
with the holy calm around.
Jubilate! Jubilate! Jubilate! Amen!
Let our vesper hymn be blending
with the holy calm around.

2. Soon as dies the sunset glory,
stars of heaven shine out above,
telling still the ancient story,
their Creator's changeless love.
Jubilate! Jubilate! Jubilate! Amen!
Telling still the ancient story,
their Creator's changeless love.

3. Now, our wants and burdens leaving
to God's care who cares for all,
cease we fearing, cease we grieving;
touched by God our burdens fall.
Jubilate! Jubilate! Jubilate! Amen!
Cease we fearing, cease we grieving;
touched by God our burdens fall.

4. As the darkness deepens o'er us,
lo! eternal stars arise;
hope and faith and love rise glorious,
shining in the Spirit's skies.
Jubilate! Jubilate! Jubilate! Amen!
Hope and faith and love rise glorious,
shining in the Spirit's skies.

for St Cass

Friday, April 25, 2008

RevGalBlogPals Friday Five

An Old Versus Modern (Postmodern?) Friday Five

as posted by Singing Owl

Yesterday I had two separate conversations in which people were musing about how much change is occurring. The WW II generation, of which my mom is a part, went from horse and buggy to automobiles, saw the lessening, or even the end of many diseases, went from widespread use of kerosene lamps and outhouses (in the country, and most folks were rural)) to a totally electrified and plumbed society. The fastest means of communication was a telegraph. The second conversation--gulp--was about MY generation and how much change occurred in the last half of the 20th century. The person said his 13 year old had not seen a vinyl record album until a few days before, couldn't remember a time without cell phones, and on and on.

As for the questions!

1. What modern convenience/invention could you absolutely, positively not live

Remicade (or the other biologics) that let my body move in such a way that most people don't know how bad my arthritis is

2. What modern convenience/invention do you wish had never seen the light of day?

Since I am fully convinced that everything has the power for both good and evil, depending on who is using it or how it is being used, not one thing. God gave us a brain for us to use it. The same brain should also be used to make judgments about the usages that bring about more good.

3. Do you own a music-playing device older than a CD player? More than one? If
so, do you use it (them)?

Older than a CD player? there's a cassette tape deck and receiver that are older. The receiver is used much more frequently than the tape deck. The tape deck (dual, mind you) has been used Maybe twice in the last 3 years.

4. Do you find the rapid change in our world exciting, scary, a mix...or something

I think I''m used to rapid change since I haven't known much else. After all, both MTV started and I learned basic programing on an Apple when I was in high school while the rotary dial phone still hung in the kitchen of my house and we were only able to change the channels on tv remotely because we used the cable remote. (I remember renting a VCR with the tapes for a birthday slumber party for my little sister.)

5. What did our forebears have that we have lost and you'd like to regain?
A better sense of community.

points if you have a suggestion of how to begin that process. Well, first, I think we need to intentionally set aside time for re-creation. With all of our "time-saving" devices and strategies, we focus on getting more done instead of using that time for sabbath, for soul building, for nurturing friendships. Somehow, my grandpa knew that there would always be something to do on the farm but a nap might be the best use of time right then. He did chores AND went to church and taught Sunday School because it wasn't about one being more important than the other but that both needed to be tended to. Feeding the cattle and pigs and horses was just as important as capturing the attention of teenagers and trying to feed their souls. We have to decide that tending to our souls (which includes our community) is important enough to count as "getting stuff done."

Friday, April 18, 2008

sermon writing

I very often have something on tv while writing sermons. I'm trying to finish a wedding homily type sermon for tomorrow. I'm not sure that Juno was the best choice for the tv background, however, I did laugh a lot -- like the kind of laugh evoked by Gracebythesea and Will Smama and company at dinner. (wait ... who's birthday is it???)

Juno is way more funny than I expected. And the sermon is way less done. I guess the friday five will have to wait 'cause the wedding is kinda early so I need to finish sooner rather than later.

working on the sermon for the 5th Sunday of Easter year a

You think they're available for Sunday?

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

the best laid plans

I am taking the last course of doctoral work right now. I have turned in my application for comprehensive exams for the fall which usually means the 2nd or 3rd week of September.

After turning in the application, I was notified by my adviser that as of August she will no longer be with the university. She is the one who is supposed to gather the questions from the four other professors on my committee and prepare the packets of questions for comps that will total 24 hours of writing time (yes 24). I have taken way more than a majority of classes with her and was planning for her to chair my dissertation committee.

I'm working really hard not to freak. As if comps isn't stressful enough! And because of all that, I'm having a hard time finishing the tasks at hand for this one class -- that are not all that hard. So, please do me a favor, when you read this, if you don't want to comment, but you will pray, put a + in the comments for me.


On the MBTI (or other similar inventories), I score pretty strongly toward extroversion. The most obvious manifestations of that in me are: I get energized by people, and, I "process out." I tend to verbally express my thoughts without necessarily having come to a definite conclusion about a decision to be made, or, I just need to tell my story. In telling the story, I hear it differently, sometimes with more clarity, sometimes with more depth, sometimes I become more comfortable with that part of my story because I've told it before, sometimes I just like to tell the story again -- especially if it makes me laugh.

I have a very dear friend that scores very introverted on the MBTI. Sometimes I forget exactly how deep the cave is she needs in order to process her thoughts. Very often, when she talks about something it is because she has already processed "in" very sufficiently. And, people, especially lots of people repeatedly, wear her out. That is so foreign to me that I thought our friendship was broken. I didn't know why and I felt like when I would call to talk to her she wasn't really there.

She called me Sunday night. When I saw her name on my cell phone, I left the finance meeting to see what was wrong. Turns out, nothing is wrong. She is completely and totally overwhelmed. She has a fabulous counselor to listen to her. And, for right now, that's all the "more people" she can handle. Including me. That stings a little for this extrovert who will almost always take more people, but really it is much more comforting because I know that we are still dear friends. And when my introverted friend, for that moment, could stand "one more person," I was that person.

And, BONUS, I got out of the finance meeting!



hat tip to Carmen Andres who hat tips Looking Closer who hat tips Peter Chattaway.

If there are three hat tips, is it a hat trick hat tip?


The Entertainer had a six month asthma checkup on Monday.

She started wheezing when she was months old. She has had a pulmonologist (lung dr) since she was 13 months old. When we first starting going to "the clinic," it was behind the ER in the closest Children's hospital. Several years ago, the hospital expanded to have a separate "clinic" building.

I lost count of the times we drove to the ER when she was too small to tell me what was wrong. I've watched her blood oxygen levels rise with breathing treatments, held her, rocked her, and read books to her during breathing treatments. I have an inverter for the vehicle so power to run a nebulizer is always available.

There was a point when the medicine her pulmonologist thought would be most helpful was not available in the form we needed so we used a different form and measured the medicine into another mix to create what she needed. She has always taken multiple medicines daily just to breathe normally.

For the second visit in a row, we have reduced medicines!!! Six months ago, we dropped one out of the daily regimen that was mostly supportive in nature and have not noticed any differences. This week we changed to a different daily maintenance medication. We're in a trial period to see how it works but that we are in a place to even think about changing one of the "big dogs" is almost amazing. I have worked hard to get her asthma well controlled so that she could choose to do what she wanted to. We haven't had that all the time. But we've had very well controlled asthma for about a year now. I never thought we'd see the day when she had a real possibility of "growing out" of her asthma. While she may not, the fact that she is not continually buffeted by the changing weather, high humidity, a simple cold, nominal exertion, or laughing too hard is a major step toward asthma being a consistent 4th or 5th thought instead of the first or second thought.

That's a good day at the doctor.

Thanks be to God and modern medical technology.

free rice

I found this on someone else's blog. I'd hat tip if I could remember where I saw it. I was hoping this would help with scrabble words but these are too long. However, when I'm wasting time expanding my vocabulary, I'm helping someone else.

Here's the link

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Friday Five: Moving

The RevGalBlogPals friday five as posted by Mother Laura

We are right in the middle of a move--only twenty minutes away, but we're still a mix of busy, excited, nervous and surprisingly full of grief about what we're leaving, for me at least. So this week's Friday Five asks about your experience of the marvels and madness of moving...

1. How many times have you moved? When was the last time?

20 (I think), the last time was June 2005

2. What do you love and hate about moving?

Since 1998 I have lived in parsonages with varying amounts and kinds of furniture. I hate packing, unpacking, taking things out of the place they belong, and trying to figure out where the next place to belong is.

3. Do you do it yourself or hire movers?

As a single mom with Arthritis, I beg for all the packing help I can get and have movers transport all the stuff.

4. Advice for surviving and thriving during a move?

Start getting rid of "stuff" as soon as you know you're moving. For the last move, we were in the perfect location for a garage sale. I hate garage sales but it was a really good idea (after the move was "public") and the money went for GameCube! That made it almost worth the hassle.

And, as much as practical, pack your dishes in your clean towels. Then your kitchen unpacking cleanup is not as bad and the bathroom and kitchen are being unpacked simultaneously.

5. Are you in the middle of any inner moves, if not outer ones?

The inner moves are hard to blog but have lots to do with realizing how isolated I had become and moving toward the love and support I find with other trusted people. I figured that out on the aft deck -- and I hope you won't mind if I call you.

Bonus: Share a piece of music/poetry/film/book that expresses something about what moving means to you.

sad to say the very first thing that came to mind was (probably because of the circumstances related to the last two moves): "Take this job and shove it, I ain't working here no more" but as the old joke goes the current hymn is: "I shall not be moved"

Monday, April 07, 2008

a waiter for Will Smama


For the first time ever, this hockey season I had a fantasy hockey team. I've played fantasy football enough to have an idea of what I'm doing. I also understand football much better than hockey. Most of the hockey season I have been ranked 4 out of 12. I considered that a decent position for someone who had never played fantasy hockey before.

Last night, I finished #1! oh yeah! The team I was playing against traded almost every player in the last two days but it didn't help her -- I still won!

btw, my team is the Holyhead Harpies.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

the picture version

DogBlogger has filled the pictorial void that relates to the geocache adventure here Go see it them!

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

international geocacher

First, you should know that I still grin and glow every time I think about finding a particular geocache and that was 4 days ago. It was the first thing I talked about on Monday when I got in the car. The live lectionary study group had to hear the story before we talked about anything else. That was Tuesday. You are getting this now because I have to tell the story to someone today. My college roommate is supposed to call me tomorrow, so she’ll hear it then. You might consider praying for those I see after that.

There were four of us that got off the boat, well really a lot more than four got off, but four were in our group. We each had something specific we wanted to do and it seemed like we could accomplish all four goals while going together. I wanted to be an international geocacher. All I needed was to find one cache. More would be good, but one is all I really needed.

I still can’t figure out exactly what happened, it was as if I’d never used a GPS before, and we went the wrong way. And we kept going the wrong way. We went past a cache going the wrong way and kept going until we reached the national park with the drunk guys that couldn’t speak English located across from the military installment that had guys in camo holding guns – big guns. There was no sidewalk left, on either side of the road, and someone without a GPS to guide her said, “Uh, I’m saying it’s time to go back the other way.” So we did. And we walked past that same first cache on the other side of it as we went the right way but still couldn’t seem to find the right place for that cache.

As we walked away from that cache, I came to the realization that I was not going to be an international geocacher. I was really disappointed. I was frustrated. Pretty much disheartened. I was discouraged, dismayed, you get the idea. But I was trying to be “big” about it because, after all, I am a grown-up. As we walked, we saw more tourists, more shops, and one of our group found and bargained for the religious kitsch that was her goal (she called it that not me). Somewhere along the way there was enough sand to qualify for the collection that was someone else’s goal. As I thought about making a “plan B” to redeem my goal, while at the same time thinking, “the search is over, just give up and get on the boat,” I saw it. I saw the A frame sidewalk sign that said “No Name Internet.” And I knew there was a cache nearby.

Sure enough two doors down was the bar with the name I was trying to find in order to locate the cache. There were four of us looking high and low in bushes, planters, around door frames and windows, not really being too careful about being noticed because the excitement of a possible find took over. Then this guy said, as he walked past, “More west.”

Of course! So we went more west thinking that we were going inside. But anyone who has spent time in such a location knows that a doorway may very well be an entry to more than a room. This entry led to a short hallway that opened into an area that was filled with tables that have umbrellas instead of a ceiling over them. The place that was most west in this area were the steps that led to the water where we promptly put our feet. The sidewalk guy saw us and said, “you took the more west kinda literally didn’t ya?” Knowing we were in the right vicinity, we looked around the area for anything that might resemble a geocache.

We were kinda tired, very thirsty, and starting to get hungry. I said I’d buy drinks then we could go back to the boat for food and rest. As we waited to be noticed, Will Smama got up to see if she could speed up the process. While wandering, she noticed a mailbox and said, “Could it be the mailbox? Do they have mailboxes in Mexico?”

After our drinks were served, I went over to the mailbox, looked at it, and reached up to open it. When I did, I yelled (like game winning score kind of yell), “Yes!” I carried the bag over and dumped it on the table. We sorted through the swag and I took a geocoin and left a travel bug.

Leaving the travel bug was kinda interesting because I had intended to buy a keychain on the boat to attach to the brand new travel bug – but I forgot. So I searched through my backpack finally deciding to use the church camp lanyard in Seattle Seahawk colors. The swag was returned to the bag, the log was appropriately signed, and the bag was once again hidden.

A few moments later, another geocacher had the swag bag out. Just as he opened it, I called out, “Hey, you gonna take my travel bug?” He came over and introduced himself. He’s from Pittsburgh and he did take my travel bug.

As we were walking back toward the boat, I recognized that Christ had been walking with me. At any point, my companions could have bailed, but they didn’t. Even when I was trying to reconcile myself to extreme disappointment, they were still looking. I opened the mailbox but Will Smama, DogBlogger, and god_guurrlll opened their hearts, and I knew God had been walking with us just like Jesus walked with the two on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24).

The find made me ecstatic.

The “walking with” made me blessed.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Easter thoughts

I'm not sure where I found this because I didn't write down the source but I wrote down the thought. It's related to the Harry Potter series and the concept of Horcruxes, inanimate objects that hold pieces of a soul, placed there through dark magic.

If you think about it the notion that a thing can hold a soul is not a new concept or limited to those who use magic. How many cars have been bought as an expression of who I am? How many mansions have been built to last forever?

If it doesn't resurrect, it isn't worth dying for.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

the ordinary that is more than enough

All too often we focus on what we don’t have and forget that with God we have more than enough. Michael Pollesel writes, “God has been at work, since creation, to bring God's dream to fruition by investing in creation.” God regularly gives us gifts. Michael goes on to say, [But too often] I have been afraid to use the gifts, or to look for new ones. Having been 'forced' out of my 'comfort zone' I did find new gifts which are now being put to good use. Is God continually drawing us out of our comfort zones to help us discover what other gifts God has for us? Could it be that Jesus wasn't aware he could do what he did at Cana? Maybe someone pushed him where he really didn’t want to go. Could it have been an instance when he was out of his comfort zone? Not only does the water change to wine, but the best wine at the wedding party! Using our gifts can have results that are greater than we might imagine.”

There are many in the church who think that they have no gifts, or their gifts aren’t good enough, or they don’t have any gifts left. It’s that “we don’t have” attitude that prompted 'The Reverend William Sloane Coffin to say, "Jesus turned water into wine, but we in the Church have become very good at turning the wine back into water." the new wine of Jesus - the fulfillment of the hopes of God's people - is what we long for and hope for. Yet when we look about us, we can see oldness at every level. We carry old fears and anxieties despite our faith in God; we are weak stewards of God's gifts to us. Sometimes it's hard to see the newness of life, and like the chief steward at the wedding, even when we do see the evidence we misattribute it to the usual sources instead of recognizing the miracle of God working through us.

3 pennies

One of my favorite stories about Mother Teresa happened when she was still Sister Teresa. She went to her Bishop for permission to start a mission. God had called her to be in this kind of ministry. Because of her vows, she had to have permission to change the focus of her ministry. Her Bishop asked her how much money she had to start this new mission. Sr Teresa said, “I have three pennies.” The Bishop said, “Sister, this may be a noble calling but you cannot start this ministry with three pennies. You can’t do anything with three pennies.”

To which Sr Teresa replies, “You are right, sir. But with God and three pennies I can do anything.” She was granted permission.


Albert Einstein said, “There are two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.”

You may remember this story. It’s in one of the Chicken Soup books written by Marjorie WallĂ©. One day Mrs. Smith was sitting in her doctor's waiting room when a young boy and his mother entered the office. The young boy caught Mrs. Smith's attention because he wore a patch over one eye. She marveled at how unaffected he seemed to be by the loss of an eye and watched as he followed his mother to a chair nearby.

The doctor's office was very busy that day, so Mrs. Smith had an opportunity to chat with the boy's mother while he played with his soldiers. At first he sat quietly, playing with the soldiers on the arm of the chair. Then he silently moved to the floor, glancing up at his mother.

Eventually, Mrs. Smith had an opportunity to ask the little boy what had happened to his eye. He considered her question for a long moment, then replied, lifting the patch, "There's nothing wrong with my eye. I'm a pirate!" Then he returned to his game.

Mrs. Smith was there because she had lost her leg from the knee down in an auto accident. Her trip today was to determine whether it had healed enough to be fitted with a prosthetic. The loss had been devastating to her. Try as she would to be courageous, she felt like an invalid. Intellectually, she knew that this loss should not interfere with her life, but emotionally, she just couldn't overcome this hurdle. Her doctor had suggested visualization, and she had tried it, but had been unable to envision an emotionally acceptable, lasting image. In her mind she saw herself as an invalid.

The word "pirate" changed her life. Instantly, she was transported. She saw herself dressed as Long John Silver, standing aboard a pirate ship. She stood with her legs planted wide apart – one pegged. Her hands were clenched at her hips, her head up and her shoulders back, as she smiled into a storm. Gale force winds whipped her coat and hair behind her. Cold spray blew across the deck balustrade as great waves broke against the ship. The vessel rocked and groaned under the storm's force. Still she stood firmly – proud, undaunted.

In that moment, the invalid image was replaced and her courage returned. She regarded the young boy, busy with his soldiers.

A few minutes later, the nurse called her. As she balanced on her crutches, the young boy noticed her amputation. "Hey lady," he called, "what's wrong with your leg?" The young boy's mother was mortified.

Mrs. Smith looked down at her shortened leg for a moment. Then she replied with a smile, "Nothing. I'm a pirate, too."

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Holy Week distraction

From Maundy Thursday through the last service on Easter, I will lead 6 worship services, including a wedding.

And somehow, in the midst of all that sermon writing, praying, setting up the sanctuary, cleaning up, locking and unlocking the building, etc., the reoccurring thought I have is: "Thank God I don't have anyone in my congregation running for office."

Sunday, March 16, 2008


We have a running joke at our house that someone can make the Sportsqueen laugh just by saying the word "spoon." In general, in the right circumstances, it works on almost any jr high girl and some boys. With that history, my curiosity was naturally piqued when I stumbled across a website about chronic illnesses that had a link to "the spoon theory."

The website is and the spoon theory can be found here or, of course, click the sidebar link from the main page.

While my curiosity was piqued by our humorous home life, I think the spoon theory is a great analogy for what it means to live with a chronic illness.

Spoons now have another layer of meaning for me.

I may have to visit their store for a "got spoons?" mug.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

you're not broken

Song of the day from NPR

I think I could use this for a couple of folks in my church. Pastoral care by single CD ... how's that sound? (every pun intended)

Saturday, February 23, 2008

a drink of water to a thirsty soul

I had to cut this story to make the sermon shorter but it's a good story for a "water" sermon. It's from James W. Moore, Some Things Are To Good Not To Be True, Dimensions, p.105-106.

Have you heard the legend of the Fisher King? When the Fisher King was a boy, he was sent out to spend the night alone in the forest, as a test of his courage to be king. During the night, he had a vision of the Holy Grail—the cup used by our Lord at the last supper. He saw it surrounded by great flames of fire, and he immediately became excited by the prospect of the wealth and glory that would be his by possessing such a great prize. Greedily, he reached into the flames to grab it, but the flames were too hot, and he was severely wounded.

As the years went by, the Fisher King became more despondent and alone, and his wound grew deeper. One day, feeling sad and depressed and in pain, he went for a walk in the forest and came upon a court jester.

“Are you all right?” the jester asked. “Is there anything I can do for you? Anything at all?”

“Well, I am very thirsty,” the Fisher King replied. The jester took an old dilapidated cup from his bag, filled it with water from a nearby stream, and gave it to the Fisher King. As he drank, he suddenly felt his wound healing for the first time. And incredibly, the old cup he was drinking from had turned into the Holy Grail.

“What wonderful magic do you possess?” the Fisher King asked the jester. The jester just shrugged and said, “I know no magic. I only gave a drink of water to a thirsty soul.”

Sunday, February 17, 2008

that'll preach

Tom Long says that while he was at Princeton, he went to a nearby Presbyterian church that prides itself on being an academic, intellectual church. Early on, he said, he went to a family night supper and sat down next to a man, introduced himself, told him he was new, and said, “Have you been here long?”

“Oh yes,” the man said. “In fact I was here before this became such a scholarly church. Why I’m probably the only non-intellectual left. I haven’t understood a sermon in over 25 years.”

“Then why do you keep coming,” Tom asked?

“Because every Monday night a group of us get in the church van and drive over to the youth correctional center. Sometimes we play basketball, or play games. Usually we share a Bible story. But mostly we just get to know these kids and listen to them.

“I started going because Christians are supposed to do those kind of things. But now I could never stop. Sharing the love of God at that youth center has changed my life.”

And then he said this profound statement. “You cannot prove the promises of God in advance, but if you live them, they’re true, every one.” (Dr. Lane Alderman, "Asking All The Right Questions")

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

This is so true: I am 2:11 am

Your time of day has a split personality -- sometimes it's sweat-streaked and loud, and you're on the dance floor, getting your third wind, and shouting lyrics like you'll never run out of energy. You are the time of night that carves itself into your memory forever, because you'll never forget how much you love these people and this moment and this song. It's not always about unforgettable parties, though. Sometimes your late night (err… early morning) burst of energy happens when you're home alone. Those are the times when you say, "I flat out refuse to go to sleep until I finish reading this book, or typing this page, or reorganizing my entire closet." In either case, you are the time of night when it feels sort of forbidden to be awake, but you love accomplishing something special long after everyone else went to bed. And hey -- you can always catch up on sleep tomorrow, right?

Friday, February 08, 2008

RevGalBlogPals Friday Five

Friday Five: What Are You Doing For Lent?

as posted by Mother Laura

Ready or not, Lent is upon us! To get you in the mood for this week's Friday Five here is a pretty setting of one of my favorite pieces of Lenten music: Hosea, written by the monks of Weston Priory.

1. Did you celebrate Mardi Gras and/or Ash Wednesday this week? How?
We observed Ash Wednesday at church with the imposition of ashes and communion.

2. What was your most memorable Mardi Gras/Ash Wednesday/Lent?
Several years ago when The SportsQueen was about 5 and The Entertainer was about 3, they were helping me serve communion by intinction. The SportsQueen was holding the chalice. The Entertainer was standing in front of me holding half of the loaf of King's Hawaiian bread. As each one came forward, I broke the piece of bread from the loaf The Entertainer was holding. The girls were very poised. The congregation loved them assisting. The organist and chair of PPR (personnel) was the last in line. As she began to move forward, the Entertainer sneezed -- right into the loaf of bread! As I smothered my laugh, I looked at the organist and said, "Just a minute, I'll be right back." I took the bread from the Entertainer, who was as mortified as a 3 year old could be, retrieved the unused half of bread from the altar, put the "fresh" bread into the Entertainer's hands, and served the organist. This is still one of my favorite, funny moments in ministry. And, of course, the church talked about it for weeks, giggling every time.

3. Did you/your church/your family celebrate Lent as a child? If not, when and how did you discover it?
I grew up in a non-liturgical tradition and learned about Lent when I went to Benedictine College

4. Are you more in the give-up camp, or the take-on camp, or somewhere in between?
Depending on the year, depends on what I do. A year after my separation, I weighed about 110 pounds and everyone could see that I was very underweight (the pediatrician told me to eat ice cream every day) so giving up food was not a good idea. That year, every Wednesday, I worked on a Habitat House. I got to know some of our retired men from church better than I would have otherwise. We talked about all kinds of stuff during lunch or while holding boards for each other.

I miss being in a community that has Habitat during the week in addition to weekends.

Other years, I have given up things or even both -- given up and taken on.

5. How do you plan to keep Lent this year?
This year, I am giving up carbonated beverages. Two days into it, it is harder than I thought it would be, especially for eating out because I do not like plain water.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

the ending of the beginning

The first class session of the last course for the Ph. D. meets on Saturday. So, that means the procrastination by blogging will probably increase. I'm taking Advanced Quantitative Research Methods. But really, I'm starting to put some thought toward the dissertation that comes after the comps.

When I started (Fall 2002), I knew exactly what I wanted to do. That has shifted. I'm now considering clergy and grief. I know that is not defined enough yet. However, I'm thinking that there are times when clergy are involved with church members in multiple relationships that cross boundaries, like the church member who is a 3rd grade teacher and has the preacher's kid in class while the preacher is also the room mother (or whatever they are called now) and a leader in PTA with the husband of the teacher who is also a Trustee at church. When that 3rd grade teacher dies from breast cancer, the grief cannot be contained in a neat little professional box. There are times when, for clergy, to adapt someone else's phrase, the professional is personal.

That is the kind of grief and clergy study I'd like to attempt. I have not found it addressed in any professional literature. (If you know of some please let me know!) What do you think? Would you consider participating (this is not a commitment, just a question)? I could use some conversation around this with other clergy. So comments or questions would really be helpful.

well, of course, I'm working on a Ph.D.

Your Language Arts Grade: 100%

Way to go! You know not to trust the MS Grammar Check and you know "no" from "know." Now, go forth and spread the good word (or at least, the proper use of apostrophes).

Are You Gooder at Grammar?
Make a Quiz

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Friday Five from RevGalBlogPals

Friday Five: Read any good books lately?

as posted by RevHRod

The website promoting this piece of art says, "For the first time, the worlds most influential religious texts are brought together and presented on the same level, their coexistence acknowledged and celebrated”. The shelf is made of reclaimed wood that contains seven religious books. The designers have put them – literally – on the same level.

Well, pish posh! I think that some books ARE better than others! How about you?

  1. What book have you read in the last six months that has really stayed with you? Why? In the last six months, it probably is WinterSong which has writings from Madeline L'Engle and Lucy Shaw.

  2. What is one of your favorite childhood books? I loved The Secret Garden because my dad read it aloud to me, complete with voices and accents for the characters. I loved his version of Colin.

  3. Do you have a favorite book of the Bible? Do tell! Either John or Philippians because those are the two books that I have worked on in Greek so I think I know something about them on a more intimate level. (I probably don't really so there are not any illusions of grandeur here.)

  4. What is one book you could read again and again? I don't read many books over and over but I could reread the Dragonriders of Pern and The Crosswicks Journals.

  5. Is there a book you would suggest for Lenten reading? What is it and why? Fortunately for me, but unfortunately for you, my Lenten reading will be focused on Advanced Quantitative Research Methods and the reading that goes with it. My last doctorate course before comps/dissertation! That small fact adds much more excitement than the actual content would warrant.

And because we all love bonus questions, if you were going to publish a book what would it be? Who would you want to write the jacket cover blurb expounding on your talent?

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