16 November, 2007

RGBP Friday Five -- Excellent Edition

Songbird writes:

Friends, it's nearly Thanksgiving in the U.S. and it's the time of year when we are pressed to name things for which we are thankful. I want to offer a twist on the usual lists and use Paul's letter to the church at Philippi as a model. Name five things that are true, honorable, just, pure, pleasing, commendable, excellent or worthy of praise. These could be people, organizations, acts, ideas, works of art, pieces of music--whatever comes to mind for you.

This is harder than it looks, but I'll give it a shot. I'm sure I'll think of more after I've posted.
  1. "True" I'm with Martin Luther, "We are beggars it is true." It is only grace that gets us through. We can do nothing on our own.
  2. "Honorable" Eating locally. Kingsolver's memoir is sticking with me. She honors the land, the animals, the farmers, and their own bodies.
  3. "Pleasing" My children playing nicely together. It makes my heart sing.
  4. "Commendable" The fair trade gift people. They are trying to help the small artisans world wide.
  5. "Excellent" Rembrandt's "The Return of the Prodigal Son." I love Henri Nouwen's reflections on the painting.

06 November, 2007

The Finnish Year, I

Lorna suggested that I blog about my year in Finland. Since it happens that it was 20 years ago that I was in Finland (actually 21, oops) it seems like a good idea.

First, why did I go? I decided to be an exchange student in the Fall of my Junior year of High School. I didn't know where I would go, I just wanted to go somewhere. My motives, as most are, were mixed. There was the fact that I had lived in the same place all my life, the same town my parents had lived in all their lives, and so it seemed time for someone to get out of Dodge and see the world. That's the more noble of my two reasons. The other was that I was so pissed off at my soccer coach that I couldn't imagine playing for her another year, and I couldn't not play if I was in town. It was a kind of "see how you do without me" thing. They ended up doing fine.

I applied to AFS, which had a strong supporter in a Spanish teacher at my school. I didn't know where I would end up going. I just said I had a lot of sweaters and wouldn't mind going somewhere cold. :) Typical high school depth, huh? I found out in the Spring that I would go to Finland. I certainly got cold.

22 October, 2007


My son, who is 3, is harder to drop off at preschool now than when he was 18 months! Now he cries and clings and ducks and weaves to avoid his teacher. At a year and a half he trotted right in and started playing with the Little People Bus. Every day, same bus. Now I think he knows there are options. On Tues and Thurs we don't go to work/preschool, and he'd rather stay home with me every day! When I pick him up at lunch time, he's always playing happily and excited to show me what he made that day. He's my baby, though, and he just has a way of tugging at my heart -- and making my mornings just a little more stressful!

19 October, 2007

RGBP Friday Five: Top Chef

RevHRod writes:
This Fall my family has been energetically watching Top Chef on the Bravo channel. My teenage daughter watches with the dream of some day being a chef. My husband watches because he loves reality shows and I mean, really loves them. Plus the whole competition thing really works for him. Me, I love cooking and good food. Every so often I get an idea from this group of talented young chefs who are competing for big money and honors galore.

The winner for this season was Hung. Not the fan favorite, but he won fair and square. In his bio, he says if he were a food "I would be spicy chili - it takes a while to get used to, but once you eat it you always come back for more!" With that in mind, here is this week’s Friday Five.

If you were a food, what would you be? I think I would be a good multigrain bread -- reliable, earnest, basic, healthy, but maybe with a taste surprise. Sounds pretty boring, huh?
What is one of the most memorable meals you ever had? And where? Gosh, there are many meals with friends, both in the US and overseas, but I will go with an early meal my beloved and I had together when we were dating. He counts it as his best meal ever: Valentine's Day, 1989, in - get this - Muncie, IN! I count it as great b/c it was so memorable for him that it helped him fall deeper in love with me!
What is your favorite comfort food from childhood? Kraft Mac and Cheese, no question. I sneak big spoonfuls now when I'm serving it to my kids. I know it's a health disaster, but all the kids I know only eat mac & cheese from a box.
When going to a church potluck, what one recipe from your kitchen is sure to be a hit? My congregation does soup suppers during Lent, and when we bring my m-i-l's corn and sausage soup, everyone enjoys it.
What’s the strangest thing you ever willingly ate? Reindeer meat when I was an exchange student in Finland visiting Lappland.

Bonus question: What’s your favorite drink to order when looking forward to a great meal? I don't do mixed drinks, and I'm not not a very sophisticated wine drinker, so a glass of white zinfandel will do.

14 October, 2007

Sarcastic Jesus?

The Christian Century of October 2nd quotes Ann Coulter as saying the Jesus used sarcasm and jokes to make his points. Can anyone think of a sarcastic line from scripture? Accusing, pointed, yes, but I can't think of anything sarcastic. Sarcasm, I think, is meant to undercut the other, but Jesus, even when pointing out people's sins always speaks with the other's interests at heart. Boy, she just doesn't get it, does she?

12 October, 2007

Friday Five: B-I-B-L-E

1. What is your earliest memory of encountering a biblical text? I encountered not just one text, but the whole thing when I received a Bible from my church as a second grader. Of course I tried to start reading from beginning to end and came crashing to a halt in Exodus.

2. What is your favorite biblical translation, and why? (You might have a few for different purposes). My denomination uses the NRSV as its standard, and I usually prefer it, too. There are still times for the poetry of the King James, though.

3. What is your favorite book of the Bible? Your favorite verse/passage? My favorite book is the Gospel of Luke, the Magnificat and the Sermon on the Plain seems to highlight God's care for the least, lost and last. My personal favorite passage is the story of the Prodigal Son. The behavior of the older brother is so typical, and always convicts me (and the words of the Father, "All that I have is yours," give me hope). For proclamation I like Luke 4:16-21, which one of my sem profs called Jesus's Mission Statement.

4. Which book of the Bible do you consider, in Luther's famous words about James, to be "an epistle of straw?" Which verse(s) make you want to scream? I'm not ready to cut out a whole book, but any of the writings about women/wives being subject, quiet, etc. always creates trouble.

5. Inclusive language in biblical translation and liturgical proclamation: for, against, or neutral? Mostly I am for it, and I try very hard to avoid exclusively male language for God (or for people) when I preach or teach. However, the same sem prof as above noted that where the NRSV uses plurals to avoid the masculine singular pronoun, it sometimes dilutes the direct, personal message of the scripture. It is not just people in general who must take up the cross, but me.

Bonus: Back to the Psalms--which one best speaks the prayer of your heart? Depends on the day, doesn't it? That's the great think about Psalms, there is something for every mood from repentance to joy.

05 October, 2007


I have to write a sermon and essay about trinitarian theology. Anyone have any good, short, contemporary articles that have been helpful? Thanks!

RGBP Friday Five: Thankfulness List

Five things I am thankful for:
  1. My children. They are 5 (almost 6) and 3, and although they can be frustrating and maddening at times, they are constant sources of wonder and joy. Listening to them playing together (when they're getting along), reading together, my 3y0's belly laugh when I tickle him, the astounding rate at which my 5yo is learning new things in school, hugs, their amazing eyes (blue and green, compared to my brown) are some of my favorite things. They are healthy, happy, smart, strong and friendly. What more can I ask?
  2. My husband. He is always ultimately my strongest supporter and ally. When I'm feeling rotten, talking to him usually really does help. He made the above children possible, and would do anything for them and does a good job with the day-to-day stuff, too. Sometimes we get to have a conversation w/o the kids around and I remember the intellect and humor that drew us together to begin with.
  3. My parents and in-laws. Yes, even my in-laws! They are in relatively good health, stable in their own marriages, and close enough to be active parts of our lives. And they don't meddle or tell us how to raise the kids or run our lives.
  4. Friends, old and new. Thanks for unlimited long distance, too, because I can spend hours on the phone with my best friend from sem. Also, a new clergy friend and a new non-believer friend have added great dimension to my life.
  5. My therapist. I'm a woman with 2 young kids trying to become ordained. 'Nuff said.

28 September, 2007

RGBP Friday Five -- Endings

On Endings and Goodbyes:

1. Best ending of a movie/book/TV show I still like the ending of the "MASH" television show. I think they were the first to make a big-deal-two-hour-extravaganza ending show. Also, the ending of the Bible is pretty good, "Amen. Come, Lord Jesus."

2. Worst ending of a movie/book/TV show "Dallas," no question.

3. Tell about a memorable goodbye you've experienced. In 4th grade when my best friend's dad was transfered, we camped in my backyard with a couple other friends and had a great time.

4. Is it true that "all good things must come to an end"? Only in the sense that all things end. My marriage is good, and I don't want it to end, but eventually one of us will die.

5. "Everything I ever let go of has claw marks on it." --Anne Lamott
Discuss. I love Anne Lamott. We don't give things up easily, do we? I think of friendships I've tried to maintain long after we've both moved on. Hopes, dreams, they don't go away easily.

Bonus: "It isn't over until the fat lady sings." I've never loved this expression. So propose an alternative: "It isn't over until the kids are asleep, really."

11 May, 2007

RGBP Friday Five -- Either/Or

There are two types of people in the world, morning people and night owls. Or Red Sox fans and Yankees fans. Or boxers and briefs. Or people who divide the world into two types of people and those who don't. Let your preferences be known here. And if you're feeling verbose, defend your choices!

1. Mac? (woo-hoo!) or PC? (boo!)
I'm a PC user because it's what my DH needs for work, but we use as few Microsoft products as possible! Monopolies make me nervous. Go Open Source!

2. Pizza: Chicago style luscious hearty goodness, or New York floppy and flaccid?
Oh goodness. Either one means I'd have to fast all day to save enough WW points. Now I'm into making my own -- whole wheat crust, low fat cheese -- hardly seems like a pizza, really.

3. Brownies/fudge containing nuts:
a) Good. I like the variation in texture.
b) An abomination unto the Lord. The nuts take up valuable chocolate space.
Once again, a tough question for someone 10 weeks into her Weight Watchers journey. However, in the one cubic centimeter I would be able to eat and stay on plan, I think I would prefer no nuts.

4. Do you hang your toilet paper so that the "tail" hangs flush with the wall, or over the top of the roll like normal people do?
Over the top, of course. But if anyone else in the house happens to replace a roll of toilet paper, I try not to complain about how they do it.

5. Toothpaste: Do you squeeze the tube wantonly in the middle, or squeeze from the bottom and flatten as you go just like the tube instructs?
From the bottom mostly.

Bonus: Share your favorite either/or.
Stick shift (real driving) or automatic (pointing) for your automobile?
Stick shift all the way. I taught my DH to drive stick when we were dating in college. Now we consider nothing else. (Quickly limits our car shopping options.) However, someday I expect we will have to buy a minivan, and as far as I know, those are only automatic transmission. I will be very sad, as I'm sure I'll be the main driver of the minivan.

05 May, 2007

Vocational Issues

OK, here's the thing about the description of my blog (above) -- I'm not yet ordained. I graduated from seminary four years ago and have remained an approved candidate for ministry. Because I wanted a part-time call, and because I wanted to stay where we are so DH could remain gainfully employed, a suitable call has not come up. Now things are desperate, in part b/c of our finances, in part b/c I want to know if I can really lead a congregation. There are just no calls in my area.

I have two visions: one is of me leading a small congregation, helping them grow in their spiritual vitality and sense of mission and purpose; the other is of my kids growing up, attending the school down the street from us, my husband and I turning our house into a nice small home project by project. It's becoming increasingly evident that these are mutually exclusive visions. I don't know which to choose. Giving up the call to ordained ministry would be the easiest -- I could just get a job. But it feels like such a waste of time and money -- and it doesn't feel quite right. To get a call it seems like I'll have to move, and that creates great fear and anxiety when I think about moving and selling the house, not to mention sadness for disrupting my children's lives. (DD is just getting ready to enter Kindergarten.) I really don't know what to do.

04 May, 2007

RGBP Friday Five -- Party Time

Hey, I'm actually doing two Friday Fives in a row! So, party on!

1) Would you rather be the host or the guest? I would rather be a guest. Hosting requires crisis cleaning in our house, and I'm much more stressed about what people will think about me, my home, my choice of party decorations, themes, games, etc.

2) When you are hosting, do you clean everything up the minute the guests go home? Will you accept help with the dishes? The minute folks go home? Hah! I just today tossed the last decoration from my daughter's birthday party in November. I know it's not good for the environment, but all I've done recently is kids' parties, so the dishes are all disposable.

3) If you had the wherewithal, and I guess I mean more than money, to throw a great theme party, what would the theme be? I don't really know. It would also depend on whether it was a kid party or an adult party.

4) What's the worst time you ever had at a party? The party itself went fine, but the prep for my DD's party -- our first for her friends, not just family -- was really bad -- yelling, stress, etc.

5) And to end on a brighter note, what was the best? When my DD and DS went to DD's friend's 4th b-day party, they both had fun, and so I had fun.

27 April, 2007

RGBP Friday Five

What are you . . .
1. Wearing -- Jeans that are, thankfully, a little too big b/c Weight Watchers has been working for me!

2. Pondering -- Vocation: how can I be a mother and a pastor and stay here? It doesn't seem to be possible.

3. Reading -- Mostly magazines: Christian Century, Sojourners, Good Housekeeping, Parenting. The book I read on vacation was Shopaholic and Baby.

4. Dreaming -- Of my DD starting Kindergarten next fall; of a little parish to lead; of making my house a nice small home.

5. Eating -- Pizza! No one wants to cook on Friday! Yes, it even works with WW!