Saturday, December 30, 2006

I must have been dreaming

Friday Five: Dream a Little Dream
From Songbird;

"In the Last Days," God says,"I will pour out my Spirit on every kind of people:Your sons will prophesy,also your daughters;Your young men will see visions, your old men dream dreams.When the time comes, I'll pour out my SpiritOn those who serve me, men and women both,and they'll prophesy."(Acts 2:17-18, The Message)

On this final Friday of 2006, it seems appropriate to speak of dreams.

A very important dream about a lighthouse played a role in my journey towards ordained ministry, and mine last night were vivid and included a flying church.

Please feel as untethered yourself in responding to this Friday Five.
Tell us all about:
1) a dream you remember from childhood I die and am buried young
2) a recurring or significant dream I am on a school bus winding around curves going all kind of places fast bumping up and down. Who is that wild driver? Why am I on this school bus.
3) a nightmare Someone is coming into the room reaching for me they are going to kill me. This has many variations.
4) a favorite daydream I am swimming, laying on a beach, soaring, being with my husband.
5) a dream for the New Year Just a dream?I have a dream for my children that they continue to grow in Jesus love and mercy. I dream of more one on one time with Bob. I dream of health for my church I am serving. I dream of a world where prejudice is no more, no more need for terrorism and wars, where starvation ends, homelessness is not a problem, abuse is stopped, oppression is gone, leadership by the best person, and good stewarship of the world. Just a dream mind you.

You know I don't know if I like these questions, and they are hard for me to answer.

So here is my bonus question: favorite song about dreaming, of course; "California Dreaming"
And yours?
How about a movie about Dreams: Groundhog Day

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

"Santa Bob" redeems himself

If you have read my previous post about Santa making a mistake, you know then what I am about to write. "Santa Bob" felt bad and went the day after Christmas amongst the crowds to purchase Christmas gifts for his wife. One thing he did was to go back to Lifeway and get the correct portable communion set. They even tried to sell him the same thing again. Lifeway, get a life. Then he went further and purchased some other items to make "Mrs. Claus Abi" happy. Yes, indeed, shoppping after Christmas and during the sales can be rewarding. And you can make your wife very happy.

Monday, December 25, 2006

On the other hand; the kids must have been good...

really good or Santa made another mistake. Our living room looked like Toys-r-us. Not really, but it sure seemed like it. The kids had a great time this morning, unwrapping the gifts. We worked hard at assembling the toys so they could play with them. I have never seen so many small parts to toys before. The kids had a good time playing with their gifts too. I was surprised but pleased at how they shared as well. Its been a very exciting day for them and us. Zachary did really well for his first Christmas. There is still one more gift to unwrap, assemble and play. The weather has been wet and rainy all day so that none of the outside toys were playable. . The last gift is out in the storage barn and is and outdoor item. Boo hoo. Hopefully tomorrow will be better or this may end up being a post winter present. That will be okay though they have enough to play with for a long time to come. I'll post pictures later.

Either I have been bad or Santa made a mistake

My husband being the good thoughtful "romantic" husband of mine that he is, went into the local Lifeway Christian Book store to get my Christmas present. He asked for a portable communion set, which they ssold him. But when I opened it Christmas morning, this is instead what I got: Communion Set - Remembrance® Box 210. He said they told him it was a portable communion set. Yeah, it is, but it isn't what he asked for, and it isn't a Christmas present.

I was hurt, and offended, and he felt humiliated. In a way for Bob it is the thought that counts. He tries hard, in fact too hard, and gets frozen about what to buy me, even if I give him hints or suggestions. I forgave him, but he hasn't forgiven himself yet. I haven't forgiven the salesperson at Lifeway yet. You see I have learned after this long of time together, I sure get a lot of thoughtful loving gifts all year long, everyday, and in ways I don't always realize. If I baased my marriage on the diamonds I haven't gotten, or the pearls that weren't natural or other fancy items that I didn't get, I would be divorced a hundred times over.

But isn't that the way it is with God and us, we don't get the once a year fancy diamonds, pearls and other fancy items from God. But everyday God is gifting us, even in ways we don't realize that are ten times more meaningful and loving and thoughtful than the once a year at Christmas gift. And by the way this gift of Christ that we seem to just celebrate at his birth is a gift that comes everyday for us as well.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

When the flu bug bites...

....and its Christmas, you just drudge through.
When the flu bug bites, and you have got a Christmas Eve Sermon to preach,
you just do the best you can do.
When the flu bug bites and your spouse is working,
you call for help from church members to take care of the little ones.
When the flu bug bites and you still got Christmas shopping to do,
you uh don't do it.
When the flu bug bites, and you have presents to wrap, you just throw them in a handy gift bag, even if it isn't a Christmas gift bag, and put it under the tree.
When the flu bug bites you load up on medicine that means you make no sense to no one, and nothing or no one makes sense to you.
When the flu bug bites, and you got people to see, homebound, nursing home, hospital, and sick, you don't go see them, you just call.
When the flu bug bites, and you got to serve communion at the Christmas Eve service, you get the lay leader to serve it instead after you have blessed it, but not with your sneezes and coughs.
When the flu bug bites and there are guests at church, you don't hug or shake hands or go near them, you just offer greetings from down the aisle.
When the flu bug bites and you have church member die and a funeral to do, you just go do it, even though it means graveside too and out in the cold. (Which probably made me sicker.)
When the flu bug bites and you haven't blogged in awhile or commented, you just say a prayer that everyblogpal(especially revgalblogpals) knows you love them, care about them, and will blog and comment as soon as you can.
When the flu bug bites, and its Christmas, you just drudge through.

P. S. I hope you don't get bitten by the flu bug, but instead get all the hugs and love you need.
So Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night oh and God Bless Us Everyone!

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

"Freezing for Jesus" or Our outdoor Living Nativity

Sunday and Monday we had our living Nativity display for the community. Sunday was colder than last night, but it was cold enough. We now all have colds. We were "freezing for Jesus."

The youth were our actors and actresses. The Director gave them directions before we went out. She told them that this was a gift to the community, and that this was the only Christmas some of them would see. She told about being at the community Christmas Parades, and that their had been only one float with a Christian them, so we were showing them Jesus tonight. They did a great job. Although they kept disappearing behind the stable between cars. And last night Mary and Joseph were getting a little too cozy, and we had to separate them and keep reminding them to quit it. But they really shined when the cars came through. People even donated money, even though there was no charge, and we were giving them a gift. We are going to give the money to the youth for their mission trip they are working toward.

Before they had more scenes, but the director decided to cut it down this year, and I think it was just fine. But when she described the other scenes, I thought wow what a production! Several years ago, the former pastor wasn't going to do anything for Christmas and she found a book that had all the directions for putting on a living Nativity. Everybody was involved one way or another. I had people stop and ask me when we were going to do it. This year though many of our people being older just were not going to be able to do the cold. But they sent hot chocolate, cookies and came by to see it. We even had people bring their pets.

She, I, the Youth Minister, and the other adults were talking about the future of it for this church. And we came up with the idea of a one day interactive nativity scene. She walked around and began to put the ideas of it together. I had been asking how we can make it hospitable to the community, and so we are going to have a tent with hot chocolate and cookies and smores next time. I then said but we are not going to have Santa Claus are we? And she said no, but we can still come up with some kid friendly things. (At Calloway Gardens they have a big tent area with Santa Claus, food, gifts you can buy and other kid friendly things going on. I could just see that in my mind when she said tent. I am glad its not going to be that way, but they we are going to be even more hospitable to the community.)

Last night as I walked over to the church, the luminaries were lit up, the stars were in the sky, and there was the stable scene waiting for the youth to be once again the young Mary and Joseph. And we pray that for those who came by that they experienced Jesus in our living Nativity. In thinking about it, God has called all of us to be a "Living Nativity" for the world that they may once again expereince God's gift of love and mercy for their lives. I have heard that we are the only bible that some people read. Well perhaps we are the living nativity displaying the joy of salvation that people see. That makes me think what a simple action on our part it takes to show others the gift Jesus is for each one of them.

I don't have pictures, someone else took them, but when I get them, I'll post them.

If you got some ideas we sure would appreciate them.

And the question for you then is how are you "freezing for Jesus?" How are you being a "living Nativity" for others to see?

Monday, December 11, 2006

A Hot Romance and a Cold Night of Christmas Caroling

The questions from the revgalblogpal's friday five brought back romantic memory to me. I can't get it out of mind, yes even when I was preaching it came to me, so I thought I would write about it, risking all kinds of comments.

It was December of 1988, my first December in Columbus, Ga. I was living in the Whisperwood Apts., and had a group of friends that I hung out with. I was also a member of JAYCEES, and some of the them were part of the same group. Some of us decided we would go Christmas Caroling and have a party afterwards. So on a very cold night with mugs of hot chocolate, and laughter in the air, we went Christmas caroling around the apartments. We had such a good time we decided we get in the cars and go around the neighborhoods nearby and Carol our neighbors. I got in the car with my good friends, and we were joined by one of their neighbors who had decided to join us, a guy named Bob. Well here we go, just carrying on. The driver forgot about the rough railroad tracks and there goes the hot chocolate all over everybody. Whoops! What a mess and ouch, hot. But we all just laughed it off, stopped to sing and then went back to the apartments. I went home and changed my clothes and came back. Everybody else had done likewise to their respective homes. It was a good time. Well, that was the night of beginnings for Bob and my relationships to begin to blossom.

The clincher to our beginning dating, was a Christmas party I hosted at my house. I had cats, one of which was a fussy persian. When both of the cats took up with Bob, and he didn't push them away, I knew he was a good guy. From that point on we were together a lot, and started doing things as a couple. We got married in 1990 and have been together ever since.

So you might say Christmas Caroling has a special place in my heart. Oh and yes, hot chocolate! But a guy named Bob really has a special place in my heart.

Thanks Reverendmother for bringing that special memory back

Friday, December 08, 2006

Christmas is going to be expensive this year.

In light of the Friday Five, from revgalblogpals Question #4. The Twelve Days of Christmas: is there *any* redeeming value to that song? Discuss. My answer was, None, what-so-ever, except it makes for a pretty Christmas light display at the Calloway Gardens. Although I have heard it rumored that the Twelve Days of Christnas has to do with a way of learning the catechism while things were pretty rotten in England for the Catholics. So I thought I would add to the discussion the cost for The items purchased for the 12 days of Christmas.

12 days, $75,000: Cost of Christmas rises again
One partridge still only $15, but don't even ask about the pear tree
PITTSBURGH - The cost of "The Twelve Days of Christmas" is on the rise — again.
Buying each item in the song just once — from a partridge in a pear tree to a dozen drummers drumming — will cost you $18,920, or 3.1 percent more than last year, according to PNC Financial Services Group.
The total cost of items gifted by a True Love who repeats all of the song's verses costs more than ever before — $75,122 — for all 364 items, up from $72,608 in 2005, a 3.5 percent increase.
"After years of stagnation, wages for skilled workers, including the song's dancers and musicians, have increased as the labor market has tightened," said Jeff Kleintop, chief investment strategist for PNC Wealth Management. "Also, a decline in the housing market has dampened demand for luxury goods, such as gold rings."
While prices for the partridge, two turtle doves, three French hens, six geese and seven swans remained the same as last year, higher wages made the lords a-leaping, ladies dancing and pipers piping costlier.
The nine ladies dancing earned $4,759, 4 percent more, according to Philadanco, the Philadelphia Dance Co. The lords a-leaping got a 3 percent pay raise, while the drummers drumming and pipers piping earned 3.4 percent more.
The maids a-milking, however, weren't as lucky. They make the federal minimum wage, which has been $5.15 per hour since 1997.
Each year, the Pittsburgh-based bank does a tongue-in-cheek tally of how much the swans, geese and drummers would cost if you purchased them at today's prices. PNC has been calculating the cost of Christmas since 1984.
For the price of buying all 364 items, you could get a brand new, fully-loaded special edition Hummer 2 sport utility vehicle, fully-loaded Cadillac XLR two-door roadster, a cruise around the world, a 5-carat diamond ring or top-of-the-line Cartier or Piaget watch.
Trying to find cheaper deals online won't help, either. The 364 items online would cost $125,767, including shipping, compared to $123,846 last year. You would spend $30,330 online for one of each item.
The nine ladies dancing are the costliest items on the list again, at $4,759. The seven swans a-swimming cost $4,200. And a pear tree saw the biggest jump, going from $89.99 in 2005 to $129.99 this year.
The cheapest? As always, the partridge, still $15.

Fa-la-la-la-la, La Friday Five

Friday, December 08, 2006

Fa-la-la-la-la, La Friday Five from revgalblogpals

Reverendmother here... those of you who read my blog know I have a love-hate relationship with the 24/7 Christmas music we're subjected treated to in stores and radio (in the U.S. at least). It gets too sentimentally sticky-sweet sometimes, yet I find myself unable to resist it. Nothing says "it's Christmas" to me like John Denver and Rolf the Dog singing "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas." So...
1. A favorite 'secular' Christmas song.
My initial thought. "Grandma got run over by a Reindeer." Wait, you didn't say 'redneck', you said "secular", oh my so many to choose from, "Winter Wonderland."

2. Christmas song that chokes you up (maybe even in spite of yourself--the cheesier the better) "White Christmas" I guess its because of the movie, and cause I grew up in Fla. with no snow ever. Ice yes, snow no. Or "I'll be Home for Christmas" for all the times I was on-call and couldn't go home for Christmas and then decided I was home, my home.

3. Christmas song that makes you want to stuff your ears with chestnuts roasted on an open fire. "Oh Christmas Tree o christmas Tree" or "The Chipmunk Song" or Christmas Shoes

4. The Twelve Days of Christmas: is there *any* redeeming value to that song? Discuss. None, what-so-ever, except it makes for a pretty Christmas light display at the Calloway Gardens. Although I have heard it rumored that the Twelve Days of Christnas has to do with a way of learning the catechism while things were pretty rotten in England for the Catholics.

5. A favorite Christmas album, Anything by Mannheim Steamroller or George Winston

Bonus Favorite Silly Christmas Song I'm Getting Nuttin' For Christmas or Grandma Got Ran Over By a Reindeer or Snoopy and the RedBaron, I Want a Hippapottumus for Christmas, All I want for Christmas is my Two Front Teeth, Little St. Nick, Santa Baby
Secular Spiritual Christmas Song: Do They Know It's Christmas Time, My Grown Up Christmas List, 7 O'clock News/Silent Night, Happy X-Mas (War Is Over)
Romantic Christmas Song: Please come Home for Christmas, All I Want For Christmas Is You, Merry Christmas Darling,
Country Christmas Songs Christmas in Dixie, Pretty Paper
Elvis Christmas Songs Blue Christmas(See I'll be home for Christmas), If Every Day was Like Christmas

Christmas Hymns sung during Advent?

Over at revgalblogpals the question for the Ask the Matriarch was about singing Christmas Hymns during Advent;

Dear Matriarchs,
This will be my fifth Advent in ministry, and I am still trying to negotiate the shark-infested waters of choosing hymns in December. Although I grew up primarily in a non-liturgical denomination, I have come to love Advent as a season of preparation for the new. Holding a hard line on the hymns my first year may well be one of the reasons my musician quit a few months later. Could you share your wisdom with regard to cleaving to Advent versus allowing the Baby Jesus to come just a little early?

[Note: I saw a couple of RevGals and BlogPals on LJ asking similar questions--"I didn't have Advent in my youth and I'm in love with Advent" kinds of things.... and my EFM group posits that they love Advent more than they do Christmas... so some reflections on the season in general, Advent vs. Christmas might be helpful too.]

You can read the Matriarch's answers at revgalblogpals. They asked me to post the links I suggested. Here is my full response with links:

Okay, some of you hardliners for Advent are going to think I am heretical and sacrilegious
Here's my thoughts and practices. I do not keep Christmas hymns out through the month of December. I pick my music by the theme I am preaching. So if I am preaching on hope, the music goes with hope, if it is a Christmas hymn, then we sing it. Having preached in a service where there were people who had not been to church, didn't know Jesus, we tried to gear the preaching, the music, whatever we did toward them using the idea of a felt need. We did light the candles, but even rewrote the liturgy for that to reflect the felt need and language they could understand.

But I also think worship is about God, and offering God our praise and adoration. God is the source and object of our worship. And I think whatever we do in worship needs to lead to that whether it is a seeker service or tradition, advent, Christmas, epiphany, Easter. John Wesley in his Directions for Singing said; "Above all sing spiritually. Have an eye to God in every word you sing. Aim at pleasing him more than yourself, or any other creature. In order to do this attend strictly to the sense of what you sin, and see that your heart is not carried away with the sound, but offered to God continually; so shall your singing be such as the Lord will approve her, and reward you when he cometh in the clouds of heaven ." vii The United Methodist Hymnal.

The church I serve now mainly has long term church members. Those who visit are new to the community. But we have youth who did not grow up in the church and so I try to keep it a bit of both.
Do you know that not one of the Christmas hymns is in the top ten of popular Christmas music anymore?
What does that say, and what is it we need to be doing to respond to that?

Now having said that, I remember being deeply touched when I for the first time went to an advent service. I would rather go to a liturgical midnight Christmas Eve service, than any other. I believe the liturgy, the bells, smells and whistles touches something deep within the core of human beings. I believe that it is the five senses being touched. So how can we make the service be that experiential for people? How can it be experiential to bring one to the object and source of their worship? God. I am not sure this says what you wanted to hear about the hymns. Maybe it provoked some the thought for addressing all parts of the worship than just the hymns....

The United Methodist General Board of Discipleship has some articles concerning this matter that might be helpful.

The United Methodist General Board of Discipleship has some articles concerning this matter that might be helpful. Here is one called a Modest proposal for Advent/Christmas Peace
Advent Reflections: From Despair to Hope
Advent, Year C: A Season of Flashbacks and Previews
Music Musings on adventWhat to do about AdventAdvent Hymns Set to Christmas Tunes
Advent: Finding the Balance Between the Sacred and Secular
Why the Holding Back?
A Christmas Lament
Christmas Before and After: Celebrating the Journey Commentary: Christmas and consumer captivity

Here are some from other writings
Bah! Humbug! Should Christians Give Up on Advent? from Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada
Can We Sing Christmas Carols During Advent? Dennis Bratcher
Twas The Beginning of Advent Rev Todd Jenkins
The Presbyterians Today
Why Don't we sing Christmas Carols at Advent? St. Jude Catholic Church, Ft. Wayne, Ind.
Advent: Waiting and Holy Hubbub First Congregational United Church of Christ Baraboo, WI
Advent Jeff Meyers
Advent and Christian Year Mark Roberts
How Do We Keep Advent Four Sundays Long?
Christmas Hymns in Corporate Worship
Advent Rev. Jeff Wright
Lights Out Christian Century

What's your thoughts about singing Christmas hymns during Advent?

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Were back

Thank you to everybody for offering prayers, and support for Kara's surgery Wednesday. It was a success. I forgot to mention they also put a tube in her ear to replace the one that fell out. (Those things are tiny.) Kara was a good girl and did well. She has had some pain, but not like what she had when they put in the palate. We all spent the night in the hospital room. Those chairs that fold out into beds are okay for one night but no more. Came home today about 3:30pm. Everybody was happy to be back. Although, Katy wanted to keep staying with Jack and Ernie because she got alot of special attention. Its soft diet for Kara for a month. Okay how many ice creams and milkshakes can one eat?

I also forgot to mention that the washing machine broke on Tuesday. Everybody said I broke it, but Bob was doing a load when it broke. Just because I kept doing load after load this weekend and kept wondering where the clothes were coming from has nothing to do with it. Actually no telling how old it was since it belonged to the church. The men brought a brand new one today with a bigger load capacity. And they told us not to break this one.

Again thank you for the prayers and thoughts.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

My Kara has her surgery tomorrow

Tomorrow we go to Bham, Children's Hospital, for Kara's surgery. The Doc is going to repair her muscles that make her palate close properly. At this point it is not closing properly and she can't push the air out to be able to pronouce certain consonants and words. It should be a same day surgery, but if they can't get her to do her functions, she has to stay over night. Last time she wouldn't eat, and so we couldn't leave. Last time they repaired her palatte. Last time she had only been in the country a couple of months and spoke no English. This time though she is further ahead of the game.

So if you think of it, say a prayer for Kara, mommy, and daddy.
Katy is staying with a member from the church. Zach is coming with us. That will be interesting. "Wild man does the hospital, preacher is never allowed back."

Saturday, December 02, 2006

World's AIDS Campaign 2006

Support World AIDS Day

In honor of World's AIDS day, Dec. 1, I will be posting off and on about the campaign to fight the epidemic.

This is from World's AIDS Campaign

Did you know that in 2000, heads of state made a promise to halt and begin to reverse the spread of AIDS by 2015.New reports by UNAIDS and the World Health Organization (WHO) indicate that, as of 2006, the epidemic continues to spread in every region of the world. By now more than 65 million people have been infected with HIV and well over 25 million people have died of AIDS since 1981, 2.9 million in 2006 alone. At this rate, the WHO predicts that in the next 25 years another 117 million people will die, making AIDS the third leading cause of death worldwide.

In his World AIDS Day message, Kofi Annan, secretary-general of the United Nations, perhaps said it best: “Accountability — the theme of World AIDS Day on Friday — requires every president and prime minister, every parliamentarian and politician, to decide and declare that "AIDS stops with me."

From The Journey with Jesus: Notes to Myself

"Close to His Heart: Tenderness"

Since 1988 a growing number of people around the world have commemorated December 1 as World AIDS Day. Despite the progress made, the statistics of this scourge, and especially its human toll, remain staggering. In the year 2004 about 5 million people were newly infected with HIV. Young people between the ages of 15 and 24 accounted for half of these new infections. At the end of 2004 women accounted for 47% of all people living with HIV, although in the poorer parts of the world that figure is much higher. Since 1981 more than 20 million people have died of AIDS, and at the end of 2004 almost 40 million people were living with HIV—nearly 95% of whom live in the developing world. Africa alone has 12 million AIDS orphans.1
One favorite saint of mine who is intervening with compassionate care motivated by the tenderness of God is Dr. Art Ammann, the former Director of the Pediatric Immunology and Clinical Research Center at the University of California Medical Center in San Francisco. Back in the summer of 1981 Ammann treated a prostitute IV-drug abuser and three of her children, all four of whom presented unusual deficiencies in their immune systems that were aggravated by opportunistic infections that did not fit normal medical models of disease. He determined that the mother and all three children had contracted AIDS, which was tragic enough because the disease was fatal, but perhaps more devastating was his shocking conclusion, hotly contested and very controversial at the time, that HIV-AIDS was not limited to adults. Ammann determined that HIV had passed from the mother to her children as an "acquired" and not an "inherited" disease. In 1982, he thus documented the first cases of AIDS transmission from mother to infant and the first blood transfusion AIDS patients.
Ammann reflects back on those days: "We were disturbed not only by how severely sick patients were, but also by how the disease impacted entire families. HIV-AIDS created pain and suffering that ruptured relationships, families and communities, and incited a secondary worldwide epidemic of widows and orphans. Not long into the epidemic discrimination and stigmatization by both Christian and secular communities aggravated the anguish of those who already suffered with AIDS."
AIDS orphan in Zambia.
"As the epidemic grew, I saw an opportunity for Christians to respond, as they often had, with the tenderness of God the Father that was incarnated in the life and teachings of Jesus. Throughout my medical career I had related the teachings of Jesus to disease, pain and suffering. I found comfort in the words that He spoke and how He touched individuals. This became intensely relevant to my interactions with AIDS patients. Although I did not fully comprehend the meaning of their pain and suffering, I reached out to those with AIDS to offer comfort and hope—to touch them physically and spiritually as I felt that Jesus would have done."
"I also understood that Jesus the healer broke the stereotypes of His day and provided both physical and spiritual healing. Studying the Old Testament, I could not escape the conclusion that justice was linked directly to care for widows and orphans without qualification as to how they became a widow or orphan. Cause was not a determinant for rendering justice. 'Learn to do good; seek justice, rescue the oppressed, defend the orphan, plead for the widow' (Psalms 117:17)."
"The most poignant example of Jesus's compassion was the Samaritan woman at the well, who perhaps today would represent the AIDS epidemic. John 4 records the meeting during which Jesus broke down religious and cultural barriers of the day. He, a Jew, met with her alone. She was the wrong gender, the wrong religion, the wrong ethnicity and a woman who was likely a prostitute. Yet, Jesus identified with her thirst for physical and spiritual needs. He met her spiritual needs with an offer of living water, words never spoken to another person. The words brought her comfort, revolutionized her life and brought others to hear Jesus. I cannot help but feel that the disciples, who had gone to the village for food, were excluded from the entire encounter because Jesus understood that they would not have comprehended how His compassion and forgiveness could overcome all forms of discrimination."
"I do not believe that God calls us to find a cure for AIDS, or for poverty, or for universal pain and suffering. But I do believe that He wants us to reach out to individuals whom He places in our path with a healing touch and with words of tenderness, love, forgiveness and hope. The AIDS epidemic is a test of how deeply we believe in the tenderness of God and the teachings of Jesus—how strong is our forgiveness, how rich is our compassion, and how far our love reaches out to overcome the stigmatization and discrimination of AIDS to comfort those in pain and suffering."
In 1998 Ammann founded Global Strategies for HIV Prevention, where today he ministers around the world. With a special focus on women and children, Global Strategies implements international strategies to prevent HIV infection and to work toward "a generation free of HIV." They have distributed the CD-ROM "Women, Children, and HIV" (containing more than 5,000 pages of medical information) to health professionals in over 50 countries. Their "Cradle of Life" program trains birth attendants to care for HIV infected pregnant women in resource-poor developing countries. My personal favorite is their "Save a Life" program that makes the drug nevirapine available to pregnant women, reducing mother to child transmission of HIV by as much as 50%. To date, Global Strategies has provided nevirapine or funds to purchase nevirapine for over 62,000 mother/infant pairs in over 70 hospitals or clinics in over 22 countries.

Global Strategies for HIV Prevention.
A few years ago the International Association of Physicians in AIDS Care (IAPAC) honored Ammann with their "Hero in Medicine" award. To me, Ammann is not only a scientific hero but a Christian saint who in the later years of his career has placed himself at the intersection of extreme human need in order to demonstrate the tenderness of God. Thanks to him, thousands of tragically sick people have experienced not only expert health care but a touch of love, and so have been brought "close to God's heart" (Isaiah 40:11).
For further reflection:* See Brennan Manning, The Wisdom of Tenderness (2002).*


Friday, December 01, 2006

Advent Friday Five

Friday Five: Adventually

Although it comes as late as it can this year, Advent is upon us. Some of us grew up observing it, while to others (including this childhood Baptist) it was even more foreign than Lent!

Over the past twenty years, I have grown to love Advent as a season of preparation, although as a pastor I find it harder to practice it at home than at church, even when the church might prefer I make it the other way 'round.

Here are five questions about Advent for this first of December:
1) Do you observe Advent in your church? Yes
2) How about at home? Yes
3) Do you have a favorite Advent text or hymn? Yes, but does it have to be just one and only one? Alright, I vote for O Come, O Come, Emmanuel
4) Why is one of the candles in the Advent wreath pink? (You may tell the truth, but I'll like your answer better if it's funny.) Well, they can't all be for the guys, can they? Mary had to have some fun after all. This pink or rose-colored candle typifies the act of sharing Christ. Pink symbolizes the Advent Rose, a time to pause in this season to Rejoice in the Lord. This candle is lit on Gaudette Sunday. Gaudette means "rejoice". This candle is also called the "joy" candle.
5) What's the funniest/kitschiest Advent calendar you've ever seen? You got me, unless its the one with the male dancers(The Chippendales *no offense meant) Or the Cat Who Laughed or Harpold's or Weebl's or Electric December or Newby's Advert Calendar or The best Web Advent Calendar(AKA German Embassy (London) musical online Advent Calendar) or Artcylopedia or Bengal Cat Advent Calendar or Rooney Design Christmas Advent Calendar or Yule in Iceland Advent Calendar or qCreative Holiday Calendar or Holidays on the Net Advent Calendar or Dionaea's Advent Calendar (r to X rated) or Advent Calendar (for the Brits) or from Washington Cathedral Advent Calendar

For the kids: Erling's Advent Calendar or Online Interactive World Advent Calendar, Annie's Advent Calendar, Alice's Advent Calendar, cstitcher , Billy Bear,

More Thoughtful ones: The BBC, Belief Net, St. Margaret Mary Parish , Geneology of Jesus, Ann's Advent Calendar, Mary Page Advent Calendar, Advent Calendar: Celebrate Meeting Jesus, Explore Faith, Advent-Christmas Calendar,

An Advent Carol
Twas The Beginning of Advent
Top Ten Christmas Traditions that Didn't Last

After I did the original, I added a few more links. Can't tell I have learned to love Advent as a former Southern Baptist, can you? I'll be adding other items, links, thoughts as the days go by. Happy New Year!

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Will Rick Warren stand his ground about Sen. Obama?

Famed pastor and best-selling author Rick Warren on Wednesday had to defend his invitation to Sen. Barack Obama to speak at his church despite objections from some evangelicals who oppose the Democrat's support for abortion rights. He had invited Sen. Obama to speak at a along with nearly 60 speakers scheduled to address the second annual Global Summit on AIDS and the Church beginning Thursday at Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif.

But Conservative evangelical Rob Schenck, president of the National Clergy Council, e-mailed reporters Tuesday to protest the visit because of Obama's support of abortion rights. "Senator Obama's policies represent the antithesis of biblical ethics and morality, not to mention supreme American values," Schenck wrote.

Saddleback responded with a statement acknowledging "strong opposition" to Obama's participation. The church said participants were invited because of their knowledge of HIV/AIDS and that Warren, author of "The Purpose Driven Life," opposes Obama's position on abortion and other issues.

"Our goal has been to put people together who normally won't even speak to each other," the Saddleback statement said. "We do not expect all participants in the summit discussion to agree with all of our evangelical beliefs. However, the HIV/AIDS pandemic cannot be fought by evangelicals alone. It will take the cooperation of all - government, business, NGOs and the church."

Sen Obama issued a written statement saying while he respects differing views on abortion, he hopes for unity "to honor the entirety of Christ's teachings by working to eradicate the scourge of AIDS, poverty and other challenges we all can agree must be met. "It is that spirit which has allowed me to work together - and pray together - with some of my conservative colleagues in the Senate to make progress on a range of key issues facing America," Obama's said.

It sounds like "The Purpose Driven Life" meets the "Audacity of Hope".
I hope that Rick Warren does not renege on his invitation to Sen. Obama. And I hope he can withstand the heat he is going to get for joining forces to work agains the HIV/AIDS pandemic. It is going to take everyone cooperating and working together for the Kingdom of God. And perhaps that is just what God is up too, breaking the barriers, breaking down our labels, bringing us together. Tomorrow Dec 1st is World AIDS day. What will you be doing to end the prejudice to HIV and to fight to help the forty million people are living with HIV throughout the world?

You can go to Pastor' for the full response made by the church and Rick Warren.

Whether to Blog or not to Blog

Whether to blog or not to blog?
Whether it is nobler to air one's dirty laundry or not?
Whether to utter the dirty word; burned out, stressed out, played out, preached out?
Whether to resign oneself to the daily tasks that is one's duty?
Whether to quit blogging at all?

For what is a blog after all but words strung together like a pearl necklace
For what is a blogger but a person who is a wordsmith perhaps not a blacksmith
For what is one's thoughts but free floating words like bubbles blown by a child and then the wind.
For what is one feelings but that which is provoked like when a bee stings or when your heart sings
For what is life but jigsaw puzzle pieces of words, thoughts, feelings, and relationships being brought together.

And yet in the bringing together of the puzzle pieces there are often pieces of thoughts and feelings that don't always seem to fit.
And there are sometimes no words for what happens in relationships or for the jumbled pieces
And there are sometimes when the words used reflect deeper hidden thoughts and feelings from the past.
And there are sometimes when one's words, thoughts and feelings hurt a relationship in a way not meant to be or not meant to happen.

Suddenly the moment has come and is over in a flash of light.
How does one then pick up the pieces of the puzzle of the relationship again?
How does one deal with the jagged pieces of the feelings and thoughts?
How does one say I am sorry and make peace with the jagged piece of a relationship?

It is painful to write this but must be done.
For I am human and have hurt and been hurt.
Words have been said, feelings provoked, with one I love.
And now the raw jagged piece is there between us.
I confess that from a deeper vulnerable place within, I then reacted in pain, hurt, anger and shame.
I now find from that same place and from that piece of relationship the willingness to say I am sorry and please forgive for I forgive and do love this one I have hurt and who hurt me.

Whether to blog or not to blog,
Me thinks I will blog.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Thanksgiving Week Message from Bishop Will Willimon

Every Week Bishop Willimon sends an e-mail out to the Northa Al. United Methodist Clergy and others who subscribe. (That means you too can subscribe to his email, or you can go to his blog, A Peculiar Prophet, or the North AL website, to be able to read the same content.)


On Nov. 15, Highlands United Methodist Church’s ministry with homeless people on Birmingham’s Southside made the front page of The Birmingham News. The article noted that this ministry has drawn some fierce criticism from some quarters. I love it when the United Methodist Church makes front-page news not for losing members or fighting over some social issue, but for being the Church and doing what Jesus commanded us to do when he said “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.” (Matthew 25: 35-36).

Way to go, Highlands!

This week, most of us our preparing to celebrate Thanksgiving with our families. All over Alabama, feasts are being prepared. Highlands, in the name of Jesus, has a considerably expanded notion of “family” this Thanksgiving. Highlands feeds the hungry and the homeless not just on Thanksgiving, but almost every day of the week. That’s what Jesus does to a church.

Whether it is feeding hungry people, building homes for those who have lost their homes in natural disasters, visiting those who are in prison, or providing a safe place for families struggling with the pressures of life to find hope, Jesus calls us to serve and not to be popular. The Gospels are full of stories where Jesus was criticized and hated for the ministry he did. Something’s wrong with our discipleship if we’re never criticized on the front page of The Birmingham News.

I thank God for Highlands United Methodist on their faithful ministry to homeless people. Their ministry is more than a quick hand out. Staff and members are building relationships and learning the names and stories of those people on the Southside that others hurriedly pass by. This church is not just giving out food and services but is also inviting those people who are served to join Highlands in worship.

Earlier this month I was part of a Conference called “The Heart of the Gospel: A Call to Follow Jesus,” a joint effort between Highlands United Methodist Church Committee on Church and Society and Urban Ministry, Inc. During the Conference, we did a very Methodist Christian thing - we focused on what Jesus makes us do in response to what our society does to the poor. I commend David Carboni, Reggie Holder, Emily Penfield and other staff and members of Highlands UMC for being in discussion with their merchant neighbors who take issue with their homeless ministry. I am encouraged by this discussion and hope the merchants and neighbors will join the church to begin to work on issues that can be solved in this situation.

The problem is not that Highlands United Methodist Church offers food to homeless people. The problem is that we live in a state where over 15% of our neighbors are living below the poverty line. The problem is that 23% of Alabama’s children live in poverty. When you sit down to dinner this Thanksgiving, please join Patsy and me in specifically praying for the poor children of Alabama.

Christian ministry is messy. Jesus never promised that the newspapers would approve of us. I thank God that Highlands United Methodist Church is more interested in pleasing Jesus than the newspaper. Thanks to Highlands, the rest of us are reminded that Jesus gives all of us a considerably expanded notion of “family,” a wide area of responsibility, and a means to do unto others as God has done unto us. That’s something for which to give thanks!

Will Willimon

"The problem is not that Highlands United Methodist Church offers food to homeless people. The problem is that we live in a state where over 15% of our neighbors are living below the poverty line. The problem is that 23% of Alabama’s children live in poverty. " (The numbers may even be higher. And actually Highlands does even more. Praying is great, but what about being the hands and feet of Jesus, and helping eliminate poverty and hunger in AL? And how about more often than just Thanksgiving or the Holiday season, although that is good too? And what can North AL. conference be doing as well? )

Christian ministry is messy. Jesus never promised that the newspapers would approve of us. I thank God that Highlands United Methodist Church is more interested in pleasing Jesus than the newspaper. (Yes, Christian ministry is messy, very messy, especially when we get out of our pews and our ivory towers. And people won't approve of us. And sometimes our very church members won't approve, don't want those kind of people in our church or will think those people are taking advantage of us. But people didn't approve much of Jesus either.)

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Yikes, The church is now PETA's recent target

PETA mistakenly targets church's nativity scene

MSN reported the following:
"The pastor at Anchorage First Free Methodist Church was mystified. Why was the activist group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals chastising him? No animals are harmed in the church's holiday nativity display. In fact, animals aren't used at all.
People, however, do dress the parts — Mary, Joseph, the wise men, etc. The volunteers stand shivering at a manger on the church lawn in a silent tribute to Christmas. The Rev. Jason Armstrong was confused by an e-mail this week from PETA, which admonished him for subjecting animals "to cruel treatment and danger," by forcing them into roles in the church's annual manger scene. "We've never had live animals, so I just figured this was some spam thing," Armstrong said. "It's rough enough on us people standing out there in the cold. So we're definitely not using animals."

Jackie Vergerio, PETA's captive animals in entertainment specialist, said her organization tracks churches nationwide that use real animals in "living nativity scenes.""Those animals are subject to all sorts of terrible fates in some cases," Vergerio said. "Animals have been stolen and slaughtered, they've been raped, they've escaped from the nativity scenes and have been struck by cars and killed. Just really unfathomable things have happened to them."
In the letter to Armstrong, Vergerio shared some sad fates of previous nativity animals — like Brighty the donkey, snatched from a nativity scene in Virginia and beaten by three young men. Ernie the camel fled a creche in Maryland but was struck and killed by a car. Two sheep and a donkey had to be euthanized after a dog mauling at a manger scene in Virginia.

Confusion about 'living nativity'
Seems the confusion started with the church's choice of phrase. PETA flagged Free Methodist's display as a "living nativity," and indeed, that's how the church describes it on its Web site.
To PETA, that means animals.

Free Methodist's display is peaceful, Armstrong said. The congregation erects the stable. Members spread straw and don costumes. Some even dress as manger animals. The volunteers stand beneath a brightly lit electric star as Christmas music fills the frosty air. They don't even speak.
"No one's come by protesting or thrown bloodstained fur at us or anything," Armstrong said. "We even use a plastic baby."

Okay, so if you are going to have a "living Nativity Scene" at your church, either be careful how you advertise it or don't use live animals or be sure you are careful how you protect them and take care of them.

I had no idea PETA tracked these things as well as everythingelse it tracks about animal abuse. We are having a living Nativity Scene this year. I was asked if we were going to have live animals, and I said I honestly did not know. I enherited this practice, and they have been doing it for 2 years now.
At Aldersgate we had a Living Nativity that the children did on one Sunday evening. We didn't do it in Wadley, everybody was too old, although we had all the animals we needed. Okay so, what do you call it now? "Partial Living Nativity"? Do you use a disclaimer; no live animals or real baby used? M-m-m? How does one deal with this. "Life size creche', only actors used."

Shop, Go Broke or Buy Nothing?

Black Friday Five from revgalblogpals

Reverendmother here... My husband accompanied my brother this morning to stand on line for a Nintendo Wii. They headed out at oh-dark-thirty this morning but were, sadly, thwarted. There were 30 people in line for 6 units. They are trying to be philosophical about it--"That's the most I was willing to do, so I'm OK with it... imagine the people who waited for hours!" my brother said.

So this is a "Black Friday" Five (aka Buy Nothing Day) in honor of the busiest shopping day of the year:

1. Would you ever/have you ever stood in line for something--tickets, good deals on electronics, Tickle Me Elmo? NO!

2. Do you enjoy shopping as a recreational activity? NO!

3. Your favorite place to browse without necessarily buying anything. Not sure you would believe this or understand this, but if I browse there are a couple of places that I like to that at. Having grown up with mainly 5 and dime stores, I end up browsing at dollar stores. I browse the candy aisle, especially around the good chocolates. I browse pet stores. And finally but most important, I browse the bookstores.

4. Gift cards: handy gifts for the loved one who has everything, or cold impersonal symbol of all that is wrong in our culture? I'll take another view, when we adopted Katy we received several gift cards which were very helpful to shopping. We had no idea what size she was going to be, so people decided to give gift cards. I have bought them for my grandchildren when they lived far away, and I knew I wasn't going to be able to get the present there to them. But I normally don't buy them. I think they are another invention of the business world to get you to spend your money. And by the way some stores even if they don't have an expiration date on the card will charge you extra if you don't use it within a certain period of time.

5. Discuss the spiritual and theological issues inherent in people coming to blows over a Playstation 3. Now, this is what is wrong with our culture today. It reminds me of the movie that Gov. "Arnie" made Jingle All the Way. Theologically, God is not God. We are god, the thing is god, money is god, the kids are god. Instead of loving our neighbor, its all about me god, and get out of my way. It bespeaks our emptiness and need to fill ourselves up with things. It also speaks of our parental spiritual neglect of our children. And then the rest of it is the true meaning of Christmas or Christ mass is irrelevant to us. Whose Jesus anyway? Isn't Christmas about how many gifts we can get or give, especially if it is the newest, latest item? Person beware.

And now for the bonus item: It was "Buy Nothing Friday". Did you buy anything, shop at a mall, or retail store? Did you get up early and shop? No, no, no, and no. I can't the pictures to upload on here, but if you go here or here you can download one. You can go here to adbusters for more on Buying nothing for Christmas. If you haven't visited the Church of Stop Shopping with the Rev. Billy, then you have missed church. Or about the Church of Immaculate Consumption.(click on the picture to get to the website.) At Alternatives for Simple Living you can find some good resources for Advent and Christmas, like "Whose Birthday is it Anyway?", Their freebies and archives are very useful, I have handed out their devotionals to use in my previous church and plan to do so in this church.

Here is the link for Buy Nothing UK
Luonto-Liitto Finland
(I)nterenational Buy Nothing Day
Stories from Canada

Maggie Dawn (revgalblogpal) wrote a post in her blog about buy nothing day

Thursday, November 23, 2006

The Road Home

Hi all,

Gosh I am overwhelmed with all the lovely supportive encouraging comments. Thank you. You all are such a generous group of friends. I wish you all a Happy Thanksgiving.

You can read the story about the blogstone (0) over at PPB's, if you wish to learn more about where the idea came from. Or perhaps you recall the movie Schindler's List, here is the detailed story-line; that at the end, they are visiting his grave? memorial? and leave a stone there with all the others left. What a meaningful idea.

It is a long drive home for us to Fla. We were delayed through two cities with traffic and traffic accidents that made it longer. We spent the night in Dothan, AL. and I am so glad, I was the late night driver with my eyes beginning to close on me.

The next day we were on the road by about 8:30 or 9. Don't go there about why not earlier, just remember 3 children under the age 6, and Bob and me. As we crossed the FLA line and entered the land of "Sunshine", where a cold snap had laid claim to the air, we began to see those moss covered oaks. I noticed within me some feelings begin to stir. The thoughts crossed my mind, I am going home, this is familiar, I am a child again, and I miss my dad. We still had about 5 to 6 hours to go, but now it was okay with me. The scenary is familiar again, the lay of the land, flat with scrub brush, palm trees, palmettos, cows, pine trees, swamps; I almost home. At one point I can taste the sugarcane my Pop has handed me to chew on. Of course we can hear the familiar strains of "Are we there yet?"

I drove or rode on this road, HWY 19 going back and forth to college in Tallahassee. I drove and road this route from the days I lived in Bham. It has changed some, and yet has not. They call it the Nature Coast and it is. You won't see high rises, fancy hotels, white sand, and fancy cars here. Rather you see pickup trucks, 4 wheelers, old cars, even broken down junk cars. Old houses, some falling down, farm houses. But it is home to me. You also see big boats that are used, not just sitting pretty in the water. The livelyhood here comes from the land or the water, and sometimes both. It doesn't make for rich people. They truly are the salt of the earth people, and salt of the water too.

But what I love most is the tree covered highways with the moss hanging down, the blue skies, and the sunshine. Only it is cloudy these days. I can see my daddy driving the car, and hear his voice as he is talking about life. But he is not really with us, he is gone, but he is with me now. I am remembering all the drives home, and seeing him there, but he is not here now, but he is. I see that quirky smile on his face, hear his raspy voice, and feel his rough hands. I smell the pies and cakes he has baked and other goodies also, but he is not here, and neither are the pies and cakes. Mom doesn't do it like him.

And we are not really going home, the home I grew up in, no, mom has since sold the house and moved away. We aren't even going to the town I knew so well. Denise and mom have bought a nice home in a nice housing development in Hernando, about ten miles to the East of Crystal River. Is that to get away from the memory of Dad? Who knows. I miss coming home really. I miss my dad, and that home. I could go for long walks there. I could go into the woods there and meditate. I can't go for long walks here, there are no sidewalks, and you are more than likely to get run over, but I'll dare it anyway. I can go into the woods here though and meditate. And there are the similar trees with moss hanging down.

It is a long road home to my family home from Florence, AL. But it is a long road home to my real home that I long to go to one day. I wonder if it too has moss covered tress, scrub brush, palmettos, palm trees, the rivers running to the ocean, the swamp lands? I do know that my Daddy is there along with other family and friends, and I long so for that home with them. One day I will be there, but it is a long road home. And I wonder if it will have all the pies, cakes and goodies with those sweet smells? I bet it will.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Thanksgiving Delurking Week

There are so very many things in our lives that we can be thankful for. I personally, am thankful for such a wonderful group people represented by the RevGals and BlogPals and our community here online. At Bits and Odd Pieces of Mindy's Kingdom recently, some of us were noticing that there has been a drop in commenting recently. So, in honor of Mindy, Princess of Everything, we are having a Thanksgiving Delurking week! (Please notice the cow; that's for Mindy).Place this image on your blog and announce Delurking Week, starting today and going until November 26th. When you visit a blog, you can either just say "Thank you for blogging" or place a blogstone (o) (The invention of PPB of The Ice Floe) or whatever verbage the Spirit moves you to leave.Let the Delurking begin!

Posted by and art work by the reverend mommy on Sunday, November 19, 2006 at 3:40 PM at revgalblogpals

I too am very grateful for for my revgalblopals, my other blogpals I have found or have found me, and my Methodist blog pals. How blessed I am to know these wonderful people through their blogs, their comments, phone conversations, and actual face to face meetups.

I have to apologize though for my recent absences on my blog and in comments. Not only have I been busy with parenting, regular Pastoral work, and life, but I have the charge conference looming. And you Methodist know what I am talking about; extra meetings, budget work, nominations work, and paperwork and more paperwork. I hope once that is done, I am back on track with blogging and some other things I am taking care of in life, like friends.

So go ahead and delurk, and you are invited to use this for your blog as well.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Friday, November 17, 2006

Give Thanks with a grateful heart

Friday Five: Giving Thanks

Songbird said "It's that time of year.

In the U.S., college students will be on their way home, traffic on the highways will be at its highest point, cooking and baking will ensue.

But before the gorging and napping begins, let's take a moment to give thanks.

Please tell us five things or people for which you are thankful this year. "
I am so grateful for my husband Bob, my daughters Katy and Kara, and my son Zach. And I include in the rest of those I am grateful for is my family and friends. And I am especially grateful for my revgalblogpals. And I am grateful for my parishioners. Now my Katy would say,"And mommy are your thankful for yourself, and I would say yes." Finally I am grateful for God.

Bonus: Praise Songs or Hymns that express thanksgiving that I like;
"Give Thanks with a Grateful Heart"
"He has Made Me Glad"
"Now Thank We All Our God"
"God, Your Blessings Overflow" (a new hymn by
Carolyn Winfrey Gillette)
"God of the Sparrow, God of the Whale"
(Scroll Down to see the words)
Musical Thanksgiving (A list of Methodist hymns on Thanksgiving)
Cyberhymnal's list for Thanksgiving and Harvest

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Deep Calls to Deep

This morning, I went for my mammogram. It was not as painful as some I have had. I was not going into the office yet, because I was going to Zach's preschool for a Thanksgiving Feast. Well, as it turned out, I had some time on my hand. Imagine that time on my hand, boy its been awhile. What to do? I had my laptop with me so I thought about going to the library and working on my sermon, or bloggin or surfing. But that didn't appeal to me. The mall and other stores were just moments away. So I went to the new Kohl's store to look at the New Balance walking shoes they had on sale. I ended up looking at everything they had. But I didn't buy anything, I had to remind myself we have no extra money for these things. I decided my old shoes would do, until we begin getting Bob's paycheck, and get some of our bills and debt paid down. (Remember, I am walking now.)
So I left Kohl's and went to Books A Million to look for a book that had been suggested for me to read, "Writing Down the Bones". But they didn't have the book, so I kept looking at the various books in categories I like to read. I saw quiet a few, I would like to have, but again I reminded myself, we just don't have the extra money, and I got books I haven't finished yet. Book stores can be dangerous to my pocket book, just ask my husband. But as I was browsing, picking up books and reading them, I began to experience some sensations. I began to feel relaxed, a sense of being taken away, a sense of going inward, deeper within, centering, a peace coming over me. A thought came to me, that recently I had a reoccuring thought, "Deep calls to Deep". I had not known what that was about, and yet here I began to experience my depth getting in touch with the depth of the other, God. I began to experience the deep. I allowed myself just to experience it, just to relish it, to see where it led me inside myself. It seemed like it was a long time, and yet, I had plenty of time to get a cup of coffee, and go to Zach's preschool. After the thanksgiving lunch, I went back to my office and continued the meditative state, the deep breathing, the mindfulness. I realized how much I had missed and needed this, and so journaled about it. God's deep had been calling to my deep that was calling to me. I am so glad I had that time today, that quiet, that browsing, that peace. Next time, maybe it won't take so long to get me to answer God's call....or listen to me.

Deep calls to deep in the roar of your waterfalls; all your waves and breakers have swept over me. Psalm 42:7

I will give you the treasures of the deep, riches stored in secret places, so that you may know that I am the Lord..." Isaiah 45:3

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Times that try a mama's soul

Well we finally made it through Zachary's oral surgery. It was quite extensive. But that will hopefully take care of the problems he had been having due to a cavity filled mouth, rotting teeth, etc. Poor guy was pretty upset the night before as big sister described surgery for him. He hates shots. He was really upset and crying Monday morning until they gave him a happy pill. And per Dr. Madusa's prediction, it wasn't long before he was up and playing. I realized he had probably not had anyone with him through his previous surgeries in China, and maybe not much comfort. So I was going to be sure he was comforted. And man was he hungry. Thank you to all who prayed for him and us.

We got some good care at the hospital also, as did Zach. I wonder if it had been an adult would it have been as caring? He came home with all kinds of things that they gave him. I think they would have taken him home too if they could have. All of them said how good he was. And he is a good kid.

We are going through the transition of Bob working on the weekends from 12am to 12pm. Kara has regressed back to some of her acting out, thoughtlessness, lack of safety, you name it. And the other two are having some emotional upheaval as well. I am trying to do the best I can do as Mom, but weekends are full for me too. And Sunday is a killer of a day. Friday they were out of school and because of Bob working, I was the one running them around. We had to do Zach's preop and see his pediatrician. Got all three of them their Flu shots, probably could have avoided it, but we were there and they were giving them. All three screamed and hollered and fought me. But gave them ice cream to make up for it.

Took them to the public park to play later that day. #1 rule is they are to stay together, and play where I can see them. What did Kara do, run off away from the group and where I couldn't see her. Maybe I watch too many CSIs, Court TV, Cold Case, Without a Trace, and NYPD, but I have a thing about watching the kids especially in public. Several times I lost site of her, and several times I had to catch her, make her sit out and retell her the rules. And she would do her sullen pouting act and I hate you act toward me. I was never so glad than when we left the park.

Sunday after church we go to get something to eat before we go to WalMart to get what we forgot on Saturday. I let them choose McDonald's. Boy did I goof up. They are usually pretty good there, but not this time. They would not come when I called them, they kept playing. They wouldn't eat their food. Finally I said that's enough we are leaving. They did the Oh mom thing. Didn't work we left. We went to WalMart to get somethings for Katy's school project. We get out of the car, and I am getting Zach out of the child seat, I hate the seatbelts in those things. While I am doing that Kara just walks out into the middle of the lane and here comes a car. Fortunately Katy yells at her to get back. I give her another talking to about safety, and make her hold my hand to the store, in the store and out of the store. She gave me that sullen pouting I hate you act.

Most of that weekend she is acting out, and then doing her pouting, sullen I hate you to me.
By the time I get to bed on Sunday, I am exhausted.
It is the times that try a mama's soul.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Red, Blue, and Purple: Friday Five

Friday Five: What's Red and Blue and Purple All Over?
Attention Friday Five from reverendmother over at revgalblogpals:

And now, on to the Five.Those of us who are in the United States have just been through quite a topsy-turvy election. During the campaign we heard a fair amount about red states and blue states, when in fact most of us live in some shade of purple.
And so... a lighter look at those confounding colors:

1. Favorite red food Devil's Red Food Cake.
2. Tell us about the bluest body of water you've ever seen in person. The Ocean. Does it matter which one? I just know the times I have been deep sea fishing, the water is deep deep blue.
3. It's movie rental time: Blue Planet, The Color Purple, or Crimson Tide? Crimson Tide.
4. What has you seeing red these days? Charge Conference Paperwork, and my laptop, it is giving me fits. Acts right for awhile and then goes crazy. It will be seeing a Doc. soon.
5. What or who picks you up when you're feeling blue? Bob, Good music, God, and if those don't a little Chocolate, friends.

Where is the bonus question? Where's the Purple Cow? Deep Purple? Purple Haze? Purple Rain? Purple People eater? Purple Heart?

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

My Birthday week and gifts

This is my birthday week. I always like to extend the fun and celebration as long as I can.

Monday was my birthday. My age now equals the year I was born in. Yep, and I can't imagine it.

I wanted to share with you the gifts I got this week.

1. My husband, Bob, finally started his new job, after much paperwork, gyrations, and having to wait. Yea!

2. Bob preached for me on Sunday, and helped serve communion.

3. I had an administrative council meeting on Monday night, boo. But the admin. Council did the right thing and gave a good raise to the secretary. Yea. And yes, they gave me one too.

4. We completed our wednesday night bible study of the life of David. Yea.

5. I got money.

6. I got the dvds of the Vicar of Dibley which I had been wanting for a long time.

7. The elections changed the balance of power so that it is now balanced.

8. I am going on a date tonight. Double, Triple yea!

9. I took Tuesday off for me.

10. The kids sang happy birthday to me.

11. I got lots of cards and telephone calls.

12. I am working on my charge conference paperwork, and snowed under, er that's not a birthday gift.

Now if you want to keep sending me gifts, they will be happily recieved.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Preaching and Creativity?

Is creativity a part of the preaching process?
Is creativity part of your preaching process?
Do you consider it important to your reading of the scripture for the sermon?
Does it come into play as you are writing the sermon?
And how about when you are presenting the sermon, does creativity matter?
Does it come into play as the congregation hear the scripture read and the sermon preached?

I ask because I came across this about creativity at Braingle mentalrobics: Creativity :: Noticing the Unnoticed. The title alone caught my attention. I think part of reading the scripture is to notice the unnoticed.

The article further said: Our minds are constantly filtering and processing data so that you don't have to pay attention to everything. Your consciousness is only presented with the most relevant data that you need to make decisions. Small details are often ignored. For example, do you know which color is on the top of a traffic light? Or which direction Lincoln is facing on the penny?

Whenever you have a free moment, look around and try to notice something that you don't normally see. Study all the minute details about an object and recognize that it was made that way for a reason. What is that reason?

Sometimes art students are instructed to look at the world upside-down by bending over and looking between their legs. This different orientation often allows you to see things that you normally wouldn't see. Try it. You may also try getting really low to the ground and see what the world looks like from an ant's perspective.

I don't know that we have to go through such areobics to look at scripture creatively. But I do wonder if we are invited to look at scripture with a creative eye and mind. And I wonder if by our looking at scripture that way as preachers, that we are also inviting our listeners to do the same. Perhaps, that is part of why Jesus told parables.

See if you can use creative eyes to read the lectionary scripture for Sunday, Mark 12:38-44. In fact, I think Jesus is inviting the disciples to use creative eyes. Can you see what he is inviting you to see?


Victor Shepherd in his sermon on The Holy Spirit as Breath, Oil, Dove and Fire says this of the the "Spirit as breath; 'Breath' in Hebrew denotes creativity. The breath of God that God breathes into his own people is that movement of God upon us and within us which enlivens our creativity and frees it for service in God’s kingdom."
Matthew Fox has written a book titled CREATIVITY: WHERE THE DIVINE AND THE HUMAN MEET. In this book he writes about “The Divine Artist Within”, the creative Spirit, the Holy Spirit at work in us. You can read an exerpt from the book at his website.
Sarah Stockton writes about creativity as a Spiritual Practice. She writes the following "The impulse to create — an impulse familiar to so many — is part of our yearning to live. When we become aware of and then act upon our creative impulses, we recognize and align ourselves with the Holy Spirit, the Sacred Breath of Life, the Divine One, the Ground of our Being. For in the creative process we attempt to give life to our own understanding and experience of existence."
In this sermon, "The Trinity as Creative Idea, Creative Energy, Creative Power" on Genesis 1:1-2:4, Margaret Gunness goes into depth about the creativity of the Trinity in creation and now.

When I read the Genesis passage of the Creation story, I became more aware of the creating work of God. That may not make much sense, but somewhere in my thinking, and in some ways from what I was taught; I was convinced creation was once and that was it, and on top of that it just had to do with the creation of the world. Perhaps it was my age or spiritual maturity? But as I have studied the scriptures I become more aware that this creating work is still going on. Okay I am a little slow sometimes. I have come to believe in the creative work of the holy spirit in us now. I believe that this creative work of the Holy Spirit is at work/play in us as we read the scriptures, prepare the sermon, pray over the sermon, write the words, and then deliver the word. I also believe as people in the congregation listen to the sermon and open themselves to the Holy Spirit, the creativity continues in them and their lives. What about you? What do you think?

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Inside of sacred space..

Inside of sacred space you are indestructible, even though you feel quite vulnerable and unsure of yourself in many ways. Inside of sacred space you can love America and critique America at the same time. Inside of sacred space you can weep for the bigger evil of which both sides are victims. Inside of sacred space you can imagine an alternative universe because you have now been there yourself. Inside of sacred space you can - if you can dare imagine it - hear God.
- Richard Rohr

This little quote that I got in an email recently, really touched my soul. I needed to hear it. I don't think I have a sacred space in my life. I think I need to find or make some sacred space.
I do know there is a place inside of me that I do weep. There is a place inside of meI feel my vulnerability. And inside me I do try to hear God.

But with little kids that sacred space is hard to access. And with full time work it is hard to access that space. God bring me to the Sacred Space in me.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Oh My Aching Tooth

Friday Five: Nothing But the Tooth as at revgalblogpals by songbird.

We are in the throes of what will (hopefully) be the final set of braces in this family, and so my mind is on the tooth, the whole tooth and nothing but the tooth.

Please share your thoughts on the following:

1) The Tooth Fairy She's a cheapskate these days in our house. I like the Tooth Fairy from the Tim Allen Movie, Santa Clause II,who then becomes TheMolinator. The Tooth Fairy in our family seems to forget that there was a tooth lost that day and put under the pillow.

2) Flossing Used to hate it, but must do it to avoid worse problems with my gums. Have discovered the ready made flossers and use those extensively while driving, watching tv, working on the computer, and and.....

3) Toothpaste Brands Whatever is the cheapest or the brand on sale, except Bob can't use certain types so I think it is colgate.

4) Orthodontia for Adults Whatever turns you on or your teeth, or if you need it, or your parents couldn't afford it when you were a kid, or you want a mouth make over, or your childhood Dentist didn't think your mouth was bad enough for them, and so the Dentist you have now says you better get it done. I sucked my thumb for a long time as a child, and everybody told me I was going to ruin my teeth. As far as I have been told I have not done so. But I have had several adult friends who have had braces as an adult and were pleased. Can be helpful for TMJ!

5) Whitening products The OTC ones are a waste of your money, and mine. Better to get the Dentist to do it. In fact I have a very yellow cap on my front tooth (a story for another day) that would take professional whitening, and matching the white of my teeth. Oh bother, it seems like a big expense, a big headache. But I guess if it was necessary I would have it done. Those commercials really make me mad.

My Bonus We are in the process of paying a lot of money out on teeth too, but for bad teeth. They do not make the kids brush their teeth in the orphanages, nor does China have flouride in the water like we do. Zach's teeth are horrible, everyone of them. Plus, Bob's teeth are bad too. He grew up before the day of flouride in the water. He then was in the military where the dental care was a little lacking in his days. His teeth that are not capped are crumbling.

But on the worse side of things is what Meth does to people's teeth and mouths. November 5 watch: Meth: Kiss of Death The Learning Channel (TLC) will broadcast “Meth: Kiss of Death”, a 60-minute documentary that chronicles the lives of several methamphetamine abusers and which also shows how the dental profession can respond. The show features original footage along with 3-D animation that takes the viewer inside actual meth mouths and graphically illustrates the side effects of the drug on teeth and gums. The program debuts November 5 at 9pm EST, on TLC, but check your local listings for times specific to your area. The program will also repeat November 6, 29 and 30 at various times.

I copycat Cheesehead, Mindy, St. Casserole, sister Christer and any of the other revgalblogpals who have done it

'What" will your obituary say?' at
But MOM everybody who is cool is doing it?!!?