15 October, 2006

Stewardship meets Pledge Drive

What would you get if you crossed your church's stewardship campaign with a public radio/public television pledge drive? I have just been through both in my listening and worshiping lives. Who is more successful? My public radio station always seems to fall woefully short of its goal. I think our stewardship drive went well, but how many of those pledges are fulfilled? Should the church offer premiums to those who tithe? ". . . And at the 10% level we have a wonderful tote bag. If you can manage more than 10%, we'll throw in a coffee mug, too." Should the church have challenge grants? "If we can get five new families to pledge, the Smiths will throw in enough money for a new roof!" Could there be underwriting statements at the beginning and end of each worship? "This worship brought to you by worshippers like you!"

Actually, I think the premiums may have potential. Some day. . . .

13 October, 2006

RGBP Friday Five: Creature Comforts

Reverendmother writes...

Maybe it's the arrival of crisp October, my favorite month. Or maybe it's the fact that the divine little miss m has been sick all week (and if the baby ain't happy, ain't nobody happy). Whatever the reason, my thoughts have been turning to cozy creature comforts--those activities and spaces that just make a person feel good. And so...

1. Comfort beverage: Hot tea, usually herbal. But if I can get it, when I'm sick I prefer Ribena (hot). Ribena is a blackcurrant concentrate that can be diluted and drunk hot or cold. You can make it as sweet and syrupy as you want, depending on how much you dilute it. I encountered it first in Finland as a high school exchange student and then in its homeland, the United Kingdom, when I did a college semester near Oxford. We've ordered it online a couple times. I really should stock up for the cold and flu season.

2. Comfort chair: Our big brown one, while not exactly the color we imagined, it has a mushy pillow back and is wide enough for me to tuck my feet up under me.

3. Comfort read: Calvin and Hobbes. I have the 3-volume hardcover set. It works to sooth mental health aches, too. Second choice, any non-thought-provoking magazine.

4. Comfort television/DVD/music: "Who's Line is it Anyway?"/"M*A*S*H"/Anything Indigo Girls

5. Comfort companion(s): My husband, children, or best sem friend (via phone), but if I'm really sick, I prefer to be alone.

06 October, 2006

RGBP Friday Five: Civic Duties

Friday Five: Civic Duties

It's that season of the year when lawn signs are sprouting as surely as flowers in the spring; elections are just around the corner. And so today we bring you a Civic Duty Friday Five.

1) How old were you when you voted for the first time? I imagine I was 18, but I don't have a clear memory of the event.

2) What was the contest at the top of the ballot? I turned 18 in an off-year, 1987. The next year I voted absentee in the primary and general election for the President since I was out-of-state at college.

3) Can you walk to your polling place? I imagine I could, but there are no sidewalks for part of the way. It would be a bit of a hike, and the road w/o sidewalks is a 35 mph that everyone treats as if it were 45.

4) Have you ever run for public office? No, but my grandmother was on the school board while I was in junior high.

5) Have you run for office in a club or school or on a board? I've always been in on clubs when they just start out, so "running" for office is not really the right word. As an undergraduate, I was Vice President and then President of the Women's Soccer Club in its 3rd and 4th year of existence. As such, I was responsible for creating our schedule, securing transportation, finding a coach (who would volunteer; we had no money), recruiting players, fundraising, uniforms -- you get the picture. These were burdens of "club" status, no varsity standing with the university. As a grad student (the first time) I helped start a student chapter of Habitat for Humanity. I think I was their first secretary. Since then I've been laying low.

05 October, 2006

Tornado Tension

Last night we had some powerful storms blow through Our Fair City. The sky had that yellow-green color that is characteristic of tornadoes. We had rain, and strong winds, and then hail. Hail that we could hear pounding on the roof and windows. Looking at the satellite images on TV, we could see the pink area heading right over our house. Suddenly I was telling Gift Girl to get on her socks and shoes and doing the same for Bonus Boy so that we could head for the basement. I don't think I've ever done that before. I know my heart was pounding. The thing about tornadoes is that they can spring up suddenly. You know "conditions exist that are favorable for a tornado," but you don't know when or where or if it will actually form. Kind of tricky, and kind of makes you need to prepare even if you can't see it coming down the road.

Speaking of preparing, we have been thinking about, intending to, "prepare" for emergencies for a while now. Since Katrina definitely, and even before then, b/c we had lost power for 4 days over Christmas the first year we lived in this house. (We had to take Christmas on the road.) Crankable radio and lights, water, food, etc. I also thought about those who were facing Katrina last year (and other hurricanes). What does it feel like to see a huge storm bearing down on you? What do you take with you when you have to go, quickly? Gift Girl wanted her favorite doll after we had gone to the basement. I went to get it. With tornadoes, you never know. They come; they don't; and then they're over in a matter of minutes. It's so random. Just over thirty years ago, my mother went to work at the hospital in Xenia, Ohio just after the huge tornado passed through there. She saw the roofs flying in the air as she was driving, but then it was over.

I'm thankful it wasn't a tornado. I don't need that kind of adrenaline rush.

30 September, 2006

RGBP Friday Five: Groups

Friday Five: Groups

From Reverendmother:

Last night was the second meeting of the Night Owls, a new women's circle at the church I serve. It's a nice group--we're getting to know one another and figuring out the format and flow of the evenings.

And speaking of groups...

1. Tell us about any group(s) you currently belong to. (e.g. book club, knitting circle, walking buddies, etc.) This is pathetic. I really don't belong to any groups right now. Boy, I didn't realize I was this isolated.

2. Do you feel energized or drained by being in a group situation? If the answer is "it depends," on what does it depend? Self-chosen groups I like (like the Women's Night Out group I participated in on internship). Groups that are inflicted upon me (like my internship cluster) I usually don't like as much.

3. Is there a role you naturally find yourself playing in group situations? That is, do you naturally fall into the leader role, or the one who always makes sure the new person feels welcome, or the quiet one who sits back and lets others shine, or the host? I usually am the person in the background, even in groups I like, but in groups I don't like, my participation almost always remains grudging at best.

4. Handshakes vs. hugs: discuss. It's a familiarity thing, but I'm glad to hug the folks I know.

5. Ice breakers: a playful way to build community in a lighthearted manner, or a complete and utter hell of forced fun and awkwardness? I have both used icebreakers in a meeting/group I led and hated having to do them. I think I've used the more low-risk ones. Really don't like the rub your neighbor's shoulders, thing.

28 September, 2006

Big Time Biblical Scholar

Wow! Seeing the Big Time Biblical Scholar at my alma mater today was excellent. Inspiring, challenging, entertaining, even. Got to use parts of my brain that parenting doesn't always (usually) exercise. I also got to see old friends and catch up. Lots of fun.

27 September, 2006

Modern Dentistry

When asked what era of history he would most like to live in, my medieval history prof said, "Well, not before modern dentistry." Sometimes I'm not so sure. Two weeks ago I had the first step of a crown. To feel the shrapnel of my tooth raining all over my mouth was quite disconcerting. Well, I went back for the crown, and it wasn't quite right, so I have to wait another 10 days while they send it back to the lab. Just a huge inconvenience and minor physical pain.

On the good side, tomorrow I get to hear a major Bible scholar at the local seminary. That should be cool.

25 September, 2006

Rapture and Revelation

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I've been teaching an adult class on Rapture and Revelation at my church. This topic has been a pet peeve of mine since my internship in 2000-2001 when the whole Left Behind stuff was just starting to gain steam. Well, the last two weeks we've spent on analyzing and debunking the theology behind dispensationalism and the rapture. So, as a summary, here's my Top Ten Reasons there is No Rapture:
  1. Jesus doesn't come again according to our time line.

  2. Central image of Jesus in Revelation is the slaughtered lamb (Chap. 5), not the conquering lion a la Lindsey.

  3. “Saints” mentioned several times in Revelation after the supposed “Rapture” point (6:9-11; 7:1-8, 14; 12:17; 14:12,13; 17:6).

  4. “He will come again to judge the living and the dead” in the Apostles' Creed means one coming.

  5. Our God is incarnational. God comes to be with us, not to take us away.

  6. Fear is not a sustainable medium for the Gospel.

  7. Daniel 9 – all of it – happened more than 2000 years ago.

  8. Original sin.

  9. Jesus was the suffering servant; the church is the body of Christ, therefore the church suffers with the world.

  10. Jesus never speaks of it.

24 September, 2006


Gift Girl tied her own shoes today! She's only been trying for a couple of days, so that's pretty quick on the pick up. She's had velcro shoes since after Bonus Boy was born. I didn't want to mess with getting two pairs of shoes tied before we could get out of the house. She's almost 5 now, so it's time to get back to shoes that tie. Now, I'll just have to wait for her to do it each day. Me? My tennis shoes are slip ons, with elastic "laces." Who has time to tie shoes?

22 September, 2006

RevGalBlogPals Boo boo Friday Five

Friday Five: Boo boo alert

After a tumble in a parking lot the other day, I'm sporting a lovely abrasion on my leg--so attractive. It's the same leg I hurt when I fell off the same pair of sandals on the same sort of uneven pavement in Edinburgh last month. Will I ever learn to wear less dangerous shoes and/or pay attention to where I am going? As I drove home to take care of it I called my husband and said, "Boo boo alert!" Here is our Friday Five on that subject.

1) Are you a baby about small injuries?
I think I'm reasonable about small injuries, small illnesses (like my current cold) make me crazy, though.

2) What's the silliest way you have ever hurt yourself? I got a high ankle sprain during soccer practice in college while we were simply jumping over the balls (side to side, as a training/agility thing). I landed on the ball and that was it.

3) Who took care of your boo-boos when you were a child? Mom, of course.

4) Are you a good nurse when others have boo-boos? I think so. Right now my kids are at the age where a kiss cures most things. It's really cute when my son (2) says, "I alright," after I kiss his current bump on the head, whatever.

5) What's the worst accidental injury you've suffered? Did it require a trip to the Emergency Room? It's a tie between the ankle sprain above and the broken finger I had playing soccer in high school. How did I break a finger playing soccer, you might ask. Well, I was the goalkeeper. I continued to play that game, sticking my hand in ice water at every break as my finger swelled up. I can't remember if we went to the ER for Xrays or if we just went to the medical office where my mom worked. I kept playing that season. I had a friend in the training room who figured out how to make a sort of splint for my finger out of tape that would fit underneath my goalkeeping gloves.

21 September, 2006


Thanks to everyone who has visited and left comments. I didn't realize I had "unmoderated comments" waiting to be allowed onto the blog. I'm new to this whole thing, obviously. I just switched to Blogger Beta (mostly b/c I wanted the labeling option) and it popped those comments right out for me.

Also, prepping for church (I'm teaching an adult forum on Revelation and rapture for the next couple weeks), life, and a cold that has knocked me on my butt has prevented me from posting -- or even being online.

18 September, 2006

Wedding practices

So, if you go to a wedding in a church, and no scripture is read, and there is no homily, have you really been to a Christian wedding? Admittedly, there was prayer in Jesus' name and the Lord's Prayer, but not to have 1 Corinthians 13 or the Wedding of Cana story read just seemed to be missing something.
It was my cousin's wedding, and it was the church where he is a member (or at least his mom is), so I just wondered how the couple and the pastor reached the conclusion that a wedding with no scripture would be appropriate.
Also, what do you think of music choices? Is prerecorded OK? Is secular/popular OK or must it all be Christian/religious?
Just wondering what others thought.

15 September, 2006

Greatness Friday Five

RevGalBlogPals Greatness Friday Five:
“Friday Five: Brushes with Greatness

The Reverendmother writes:

In the coming days, I'll be meeting my creative/artistic role model--a singer-songwriter who has been a part of my spiritual journey for some 10 years now. I'm psyched! David Letterman used to have a feature on his show called "Brushes with Greatness." Members of the audience would share stories of encounters with famous people. And so... 1. Tell us about a time you met someone famous.
In the summer of 1997 I met Walter Wangerin, Jr. long enough for him to sign a book. He preached at that summer's ELCA Nat'l Youth Gathering in New Orleans, and I think I cried during his sermon -- such a proclamation of the Gospel. Well, when he was signing books, I knew I had to ditch the youth from my church so I could stand in line just to say hello and thanks.

2. Tell us about a celebrity you'd like to meet.
I would like to meet Jimmy Carter. I have wanted to since I started doing some Habitat work in grad school (the first time). I think that the way his faith demonstrates itself in his life is inspiring. I would also like to meet the Indigo Girls or any of the past or current members of the US Women's Soccer Team.

3. Tell us about someone great who's *not* famous that you think everyone oughta have a chance to meet.
My former pastor is someone I think everyone oughta have a chance to meet. She is almost completely lacking in pretension. When she speaks to you, you feel that you are the most important person in the room. She speaks to everyone at their level and with the utmost respect. Children, the teenager with Down Syndrome, and the University Vice President all get her complete attention when they are in front of her. She is interested in their lives, and then she remembers what she's learned from them. She's also an excellent preacher and teacher. Yes, she's my role model.

4. Do you have any autographs of famous people?
The aforementioned book signing.

5. If you were to become famous, what would you want to become famous for?
Apologetics and/or preaching. Rather pretentious, but hey.

Bonus: Whose 15 minutes of fame was up long, long ago?
Brittany Spears' slacker husband. I'm kind of tired of the nightly jokes on Leno.

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14 September, 2006

Little Illnesses

Bonus Boy (age 2) started running a very low fever yesterday after his nap. He wasn't acting sick, except for turning his nose up at snack. Tylenol got things under control, but then he had a kind of a rough night, and that almost never happens. He still had the little fever this morning, which caused us to cancel the playdate with Gift Girl's (age 4) best friend. Not only did I feel bad for her, but I felt bad for me b/c her friend's mom is probably my Best Mom Friend. We worship at the same church. The girls' birthdays are only a month apart, and they've been playing together longer than they can remember. We've been through nursing, walking, toilet training, sleep problems, and preschool challenges together. I've really come to rely on our weekly get togethers. I kind of resented canceling when he wasn't that sick. Oh well, there's always next week.

Who is the enemy?

In a recent issue of SojoMail, Omar Al-Rikabi writes:
Well ... first of all you can't fight and win a "war on terror." Terrorism is a method, not a country or ideology. I once heard it said that fighting a war on terror is like having the flu and declaring a war on sneezing: you're only attacking the symptoms. As long as there have been people, there has been terrorism.

But what frightens me is the mindset in this country, and in the church, that seems to think terrorism was born and raised in the Middle East, and if we can take out the Muslim Arabs then the world will be a safer place. Put this idea up against the idea in large segments of the Arab world that America has, in a sense, created terror herself with her policies toward the Middle East. So the cycle continues, and we have "become a monster to defeat a monster."

So who is the enemy? I believe that on this side of the cross, according to the scriptures, that "we are not fighting against people made of flesh and blood, but against the evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against those mighty powers of darkness who rule this world, and against wicked spirits in the heavenly realms" (Ephesians 6:12)
Mr. Al-Rikabi is a seminary student who was raised by a Muslim father and a Methodist mother. He has friends and family on both sides of the war in Iraq.

First, I agree with his point that you can't fight a war on terror/terrorism. It is a sypmtom of an underlying fear and mistrust between the West and the East. Also, terrorism certainly wasn't "born and raised" in the MidEast. How quickly we've forgotten the 30 years of terrorism between Protestants and Catholics in N. Ireland and England.

What if we, and radical Muslims around the world, prayed to defeat the real enemy instead of each other?

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12 September, 2006

Value of a Life

In the Centurymarks page of the September 5th issue of the Christian Century(yes, the same issue w/RevGalBlogPals), there is a quote from Russell Johnson, pastor of Fairfield (Ohio) Christian Church, "Abortion is also an economic issue. It has killed millions of American consumers." (I could not find a link for the quotes section of Centurymarks.) How could he have said that? So that is what a life is valuable for? What the child will grow up to spend? That undermines any earnestness in his pro-life stance.

Besides, consumerism is one of the main things we have to guard against in the life of faith. The temptation to define ourself by the car we drive or the gadgets we own is so powerful. It devalues the lives of millions in this country who live in poverty and even more around the world who live on less in a year than we may earn in a week. We are more than consumers, we are children of God.

11 September, 2006


Everyone's thinking about it. Where were you? What were you doing? Who were you with when you heard about the planes hitting the Twin Towers? I was in seminary, two days into my senior year. I was also 7 months pregnant with my first child. I had an 8:30 class, but I was late. If I had been a little bit later, I might have heard about the first crash before I came to class. But I didn't. I learned after class from a friend who had been at home. I crowded into the lounge with other staff and students b/c it was the only place with a TV, and we all watched.

There are things I remember. I remember crying. I remember asking my best friend what kind of world I was bringing this child into. I remember calling my husband to see what he knew where he worked. I remember that we had worship at 10am as we always do, but I don't remember much about that worship. Classes were canceled that afternoon, so I remember spending much of the afternoon watching my television at home, alone except for my swollen belly. We had tickets to see the US Women's Soccer team play that evening -- that was obviously canceled.

I don't remember when we resumed classes, but something tells me it was the next day. We had a few students with some connections to the tragedy, but I don't remember that it was very close for anyone.

I think what I felt was vulnerable. This vulnerability came from fear. If New York and DC and Pennsylvania can be hit, why not anywhere? Why not here? I tried to guess the number of stories in the tallest buildings downtown. Would they be good targets? Who or what would be next?

That fearful vulnerability didn't last long. The longer nothing else happened, the less likely it seemed that something would happen. And it didn't take long for things to return more or less to normal.

My daughter was born a little more than two months after the attacks of September 11th. Since her birth, and my son's, I've been learning about the vulnerability that comes from love. This vulnerability comes not only from concern for their well being but also from the hopes and the dreams that I have for them and the worry that some day they might reject me and -- oh -- is there really anything I can do about it? And then I think that God has been even more vulnerable with us, loving us while we were still sinners and risking our rejection. That is the kind of God we have.

10 September, 2006


I am an M.Div. graduate of a seminary of the ELCA, but I have been waiting a couple years for a call b/c as the mother of two beautiful children who are still under five, I would like a call that is part time, and I would like my husband to not have to move/change jobs. So, in the mean time I serve in a very limited capacity at the congregation where we worship, and I get to enjoy my children's growing up.
It was my systematics professor in seminary who said, "Baptism complicates your life." That got me thinking then about how key baptism is to the life of faith. If you are unbaptized, you are under no obligation to follow Christ's way of the suffering servant, and you don't need to think about anyone other than yourself. But baptism is also a call. A call to see those in need. A call to look at the world as God does. A call to love without limits. A call to forgive. None of those are easy things to do! Hence, "Baptism complicates you life," but what a wonderful complication, to be caught up in God's saving love for the world.
I want to blog b/c I've been lurking around reading and occasionally commenting on the RevGalBlogPals blog ring. I've loved the thoughtfulness and community I've seen there, and I want to be a part of it.
More later. Watch this space.