Friday, November 30, 2007

Product endorsements

Tonight while I was out I picked up Tarn-X and Armor-All. I needed the Tarn-X because I have far too many items that are grayish black rather than silver; and I needed the Armor-All for a chair I have that is starting to peel from being in the desert. I'm happy to endorse both of these products. The Armor-all made my chair shiny and conditioned and hopefully the peeling will stop. And the Tarn-X was SO easy. I've hesitated to buy silver polish because it's so much work to rub it on and buff it off. The stuff I've used in the past is like car wax and seems to take as much work. But the Tarn-X was super simple, just wipe it on and rub a little (seriously, just a little) and then rinse with cold water and dry. I now have shiny and presentable jewelry (among other items). You know, for the next time you have to do some household chores!

(BTW, today on the TODAY show they had home fix-it's for different problems. One of their recommendations for a clogged drain was 1/4 cup of ammonia followed by a quart of boiling water. While this might be effective, it's rough on the environment, if you need a homemade fix that's more earth friendly, try 1/4 cup baking soda chased with a couple cups white vinegar (heated). Let it bubble and fizz and sit for about 1/2 hour or so and then follow with hot water. It is smelly (for heating the vinegar), but so is ammonia, and it's good for mother earth!)

Kodak gallery wallets

The other day when my parents and I went to Disneyland, my mom insisted I take a picture with the surfer santa and then use the pic for Christmas cards. At first I thought she was crazy, then I thought it might be kinda fun. So I hopped on Santa's lap and she snapped a few shots. I asked her to send them to me and then I ordered prints from Kodak Gallery. I wanted wallets and when I went to order it said $1.79, but didn't list how many. The 4x6 prints are only $.15 each, so I figured it'd be a sheet of 12. They have a new deal where the prints can be done at a local Rite-Aid (or some such store) and you pick them up the next day. So I went in today to pick up the pics and there were only 4 wallets. That's $.40 each! Maybe that's not a big deal, but compared the pic that is 4 times the size and a third the cost....that's a rip off. I'm debating now whether the pics are worth it period, or should I do 4x6 size for folks, or what. Anyway, the gist is the kodak gallery wallet size prints are not worth the cost! (Though the regular size prints are--good quality, cheap, and reliable).

Methodist Pick-Up lines...

These are awesome! Thank you John et al.

Please tell me why rain is "unfortunate"

This morning I was watching the news and the local weather lady said, "Unfortunately it looks like we are going to have a wet and dreary Friday". Why does rain get such a bad rap?!?! For the record, our land is PARCHED! We have only had something like 1/5th of our normal annual rain fall. That's not good folks. That's part of the reason the fires were able to spread so rampantly this year. We need rain. Rain is our friend. Rain washes and nourishes our earth. It is a God send. And yet, I could bet money on at least a dozen people today who will fuss that it's raining.

I for one am grateful. I am enjoying the sound of rain pattering on the windows and the balcony. I'm relishing the sweet smell of rain on desert sand, and I'm enjoying the simple thought of the good it will do our area.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Meti la pata

Ayer tuvimos una reunion de vision y planeacion para nuestro ministerio latino. Habia dado la responsibilidad a una miembra porque la conferencia no quiere que lo haga la pastora. La semana pasada no estuve, solo les salude y me fui. El reporte que recibi despues fue que se quejaron que no estaba yo. Bueno. Entonces, esta semana asisti, pero le informe a la designada que solo iba a estar por lo que me pedia y no para guiar la conversacion. Platicamos un poco de lo que habia discutido y me desanime un poco porque realmente no intentaron crear nada nuevo. Solo seguian con lo mismo, y anadian "mas comunicacion"--que es buena cosa, pero no nos va a saltar de donde estamos. Somos una iglesia nueva, todavia "mision". Llevamos ya 7.5 anos en este ministerio, pero nunca hemos subido a mas que 30 personas. Tienen la mentalidad de una iglesia viejita que esta muriendo, en vez de una congregacion nueva que esta intentando crecer con todo lo que tienen. No tienen una mentalidad de crecimiento, ni de invitacion, ni de evangelismo. Y yo me estoy frustrando por no poder comunicarles la importancia de invitar.

Parece que me desvie en una queja, la razon por lo cual quise escribir esto no fue para quejarme, mas que nada fue para levantar la pregunta de como nos llamamos. "Hispanos" o "Latinos".

Por mi educacion, yo aprendi que "Hispano" fue problematico por dos razones. 1) Fue una palabra que usaba Nixon (creo), el presidente, pero cuando el lo implementaba se la aplicaba a mas que los "hispanos", o sea, tambien a los afroamericanos y otros. Es decir, no solo hablaba de los latinos/hispanos. 2) "Hispano" refiere en su base a Hispanoiberica--es decir, Espana y Portugal. Y bueno, como los espanoles y portugueses conquistaron por el caribe, Mexico, y america del centro y del sur, puede decir que hay influencia hispanola por todas estas partes. Pero, a la vez, hay los indigenas que no tienen raizes hispanolas. Tambien lo que aprendi fue que lo mas normal/usado es "latino" hoy en dia.

Entonces, cuando llegue cambie en el boletin nuestro nombre a "Ministerio Latino". Y les juro que en ano y medio, no me ha dicho nadie nada. Pero ayer, enojadita me pregunto la designada "Y quien cambio el nombre de hispano a latino?" Y le dije que yo. Y me explico, como es puertoriquena, que a ella "latino" no aplica. Y por lo que les explique, puede ser que tiene razon, a lo mejor, si lo tiene. Entonces, me quede con la pregunta de como nos llamamos. Obviamente, a la designada no le gusta "latino" pero a los demas, que no son del caribe, y no tienen raices hispanolas, que les llamo a ellos?

Hay otro problema y es de las generaciones. Porque la mayoria de los miembros, son viejos, y son de la epoca de "Hispanos", pero la gente que queremos, los jovenes, son mas acostumbrados a "latinos". ?Que harias?

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Un vistazo de esperanza

Today was a really good day! The morning started out frustrating with a visioning meeting for the Hispanic ministry that was less successful and less inventive than I would have hoped. Actually, it was more than frustrating, it made me want to throw up my hands and walk away. Anyway, after that we had a Christmas party for our office volunteers, and then I did a visit, and then picked up a book a friend recommended.

But the vistazo of esperanza came when I got to meet with our new bell director. He's been here about 3 months now and I've had limited interaction with him. The most time we spent together was rehearsing for and doing our youth service back in October. I had wanted to talk to him because we are really trying to work on our youth program, and as a part of that I'd like to have a regular worship experience for the youth that is aimed at them and uses the types and styles of music they enjoy most, and he would be the one I'd want to do music.

Yesterday the wheels in my head started turning and I thought, well we don't have to have a sermon, we could do more camp style and have people share their testimonies, and that would be a good way to connect the older members with the younger members by having them share together through their faith walks. Then I thought, well, if we're doing fun and energetic worship, then the young adults would probably want to come too, and well, there's not a good reason for the older folks not to come if they want to be there, AND, what would be really awesome is if we could use this as an outreach tool to the community whereby we could get new folks to the church. (**right now we don't have any type of worship offering that really addresses young people. Everything is traditional high church, unless they give me too much control, and even our special events are aimed at older generations--they have ragtime music, or all older movie/music/culture references...). I got really excited with the prospect and thought, if we did this service independently, we could do what we want, and I could start living my dream of doing a multi-cultural, multi-traditional, and even multi-generational worship service. Sooooo, I met with A and after he shared a bunch of enthusiasm and stories from what is going on with him, I shared my ideas about the service and he was game. He was eager to get started and start recruiting a drummer and bass player and get practicing. Sweet!!!

A has a ton of energy and goes a mile a minute, kinda like I do when I'm at my best, and it was nice to have someone else talk excitedly and quickly and go from one thing to the next, rather than feeling like we are moving at a snail's pace.

I am excited for this opportunity and pray that God would guide us and bless us. I am SUPER thankful for A and all that he brings to the table. And I am thankful for today's vistazo of esperanza.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

It shoulda been Mel B

Warning: This post lacks neurons. It's a glimpse at the side of me that comes out when I retreat from work and thought completely!

I'm not one for reality TV. I hate it really, that is except for Dancing with the Stars. I have seen an episode here and there in the past, but this time, I was hooked by about week 5. I watch it faithfully, mostly I think because I LOVE dancing. I wish they did "Dancing with the Pastors" 'cause I'd totally be there! lol. Tonight was the season finale and Helio won. I'm a bit bitter, 'cause, really, Mel B is the better dancer. She should have won. Seriously. I thought she had it in the bag, and then Helio won. Just proves you don't always get what you want.

Online Bill Pay

For years I have avoided online Bill Pay. I no longer remember why, I think it had something to do with security of making sure my bills got there, or not wanting to change, or something, who knows. But, recently I switched over and am SO glad I did. It is simple, it's easy. I get to save my stamps for sending snail mail to friends. Why did I wait so long to switch?!?! If you haven't tried it, I highly recommend it. Seriously, it's great. (Note: they don't often do same day delivery, and often not even next day, so you still have to plan ahead to not get stuck with late fees).

Monday, November 26, 2007

Pulled Pork (the simple way)

I continue to suffer from migraines these days, and tonight is no exception, so today's post has to be quick and simple:

Pulled Pork Recipe

You can use just about any cut of pork for this: cutlets, pork chops, ribs, whatever

Place the pork (raw) with about 1/2 cup water in crock pot on high. Add 1 tsp of salt/seasoning salt. Cover and let cook.

You can let this cook all day, start it in the morning and let it go all day. It will just pull apart when it is finished cooking. I had mine on high for about 5 hours and it was fine.

**Note: it is easier to use meat that is boneless, but boned is fine, just know you'll have to pick out the bone in the end.

This can be served various ways:

1) straight up on corn tortillas with cilantro and a little onion.
2) in taquitos
3) covered with barbeque sauce on a roll for simple pulled pork sandwich.


Sunday, November 25, 2007

Charlie Brown days...

Today at church was a Charlie Brown day. Everything felt like waaa....wahh...waaaa...wah...wah. It was very high church, very formal, and very wah, wah, wah. I wish it weren't that way, but also know that I could be equally culpable of creating waaa...waaa...wah type services, so I need to reserve my judgment and remove the log out of my own eye. That said, I think it's time for a nap.

Did I just get asked out?!?!

So today during the meet and greet there was a man who looked new to me, thinking he was a visitor, I asked his name and greeted him and told him I was glad he was with us. No big deal. I greeted the other 100 people who were in line behind him and then went to my second service. After the service was over we were gathered in the small area (like a mini narthex) before exiting and were signing up for tamales and having coffee and cookies and Mr. New Guy came up and asked if he could talk with me a minute (I probably should have seen a red flag considering my service gets out an hour and a half after the other one ends...and so even if he had stayed until the absolute end of coffee time...he would have had a bit of a wait, but whatever, I'm slow on the uptake, I can admit that). I instructed a youth to finish cleaning up and went around the corner into another room with him. He asked if I wanted to go have lunch and I said I had a youth with me today and couldn't. He asked if I my schedule was busy (uhhh...can we say it's advent in the church and I am one of the pastors?? Do you even need to ask?!?) "Yes, well, it's advent, so things are pretty hectic in the church. But (why do I always throw in the but...???) I can check my schedule and get back to you. He gave me his card, with cell number written in, and then did the long shake thing.

Now, I'm pretty sure that was a request for a date....but it was disguised, and I was robed, and who in their right mind asks a pastor out while they are robed for Sunday service?!?! That's not normal. Apparently some people like the nun thing. I'm not sure though, I mean, I was robed, and it is Sunday, and so maybe he has a pastoral/spiritual concern, but something tells me not.

Can we be clear about a couple of things here? 1) there has not been this much dating interest directed toward me EVER in my life. What is that about?!?! 2) this dating business is tricky...seems to me it used to be you got asked "out" or on "a date", but I think too many men were rejected and so they got doesn't get asked out on a date or asked out per say any more, you get asked for coffee (a.k.a. the neutral date), lunch (a.k.a. the safe date), or dinner (the most-likely-it's-a-date date), but without being asked "out" or on an official date, the terms and agreements are a bit fuzzy. (At least in my mind). Being asked to lunch isn't necessarily a date in my book, which is probably why, more often than not, I end up blindsided by the romantic implications. Oy Vey.

Does this craziness happen to anyone else? Have you ever been asked out in worship?? (**I was quite relieved this did not happen during the passing of the peace...that would have seriously thrown me for a loop!)

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Christmas elves have arrived!

Christmas hit my house today! This is the earliest I have EVER had Christmas up and around at my house (parents' or otherwise). The lights are up. The tree is up (and mostly lit...I'll get there in a minute), the dishes are in the dishwasher, linens ready to be washed and all the little things are out. I was excited about getting home from Thanksgiving away and decorating the house. I love Christmas--the lights, the smells, the colors. But as I started pulling box after box out of storage, I thought on more than one occasion, "would it be so wrong if I just dropped this so it'd break so I don't have to repack it?!?" (I didn't partake in the temptation). I also began to think if I let the Christmas bug hit too early as I got overwhelmed at all the Christmas stuff there was to clean and put out. But, as things settled into place, I became more and more grateful for my mother's masterful shopping techniques...the woman can find a bargain, let me tell you, so I have lots of cool things that she bought super cheap. (Note to mom, I do not need any more, but thank you for what I already have!)

The only SNAFU was the Christmas must--the lights. I started, gleefully, to do the tree and spent time untangling and testing the lights, only to find that 2 of the colored minis don't work. (I still have yet to figure out WHY I repacked them last year if they didn't work...) and I searched and searched and only had one more strand, so, I have the top foot done and the bottom three feet done and a big foot and a half in the middle with no lights. =( I'll get there though, next stop Kmart for one more box of minis. After getting ridiculously frustrated with the tree lights, I moved onto the white lights that were for the porch and the sliding door. Those went up without much trouble, though one of those strands didn't work either. Fortunately, I know Murphy is hard at work when the Christmas lights come out, so I pretest before I hang, and I know to put the plugs the right direction. I can't tell you how much fun I had watching folks come into the hardware store (where I worked for 6 years) around Christmas time asking for a male to male or female to female electrical adapter. For the record, they don't make them. (At least they didn't 5 years ago, if they were smart they would now...) If you've ever done lights, you know the drill, you start hanging and either 1) you get all the way to the end and figure out you have the wrong end at the socket, or 2) you start from two directions and when you meet in the middle there's no way to connect. Do yourself a favor if you're doing lights this year, think about where your plus is and which end you're starting with before you start hanging.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Book list

It has only been within the last few weeks that I have been excited about reading again. When I first started at the church, I also started in a church growth/planting/revitalization institute and both things had me reading up a storm to try and be a more informed/better pastor. Well, I think I overdid. I was reading a book or two a week and I think got overwhelmed by all there was to do and learn. About the time I burned out, I got cable...and well, let's just say I haven't been reading as vigorously. Nevertheless, after I found "An Unquiet Mind" I got back in the saddle and read that and have continued on. First of all, let me say "An Unquiet Mind" is an absolutely marvelous book. It is an autobiography about bipolar disorder and was SO helpful to read. Having studied psychology in college, I knew a clinical definition of it, but didn't reallyget it, but I think I am a lot closer. The author not only has the disorder, but she is also a leading professional/expert on it. So she knows what's up. I really recommend this book, especially if you work with folks who struggle with the disease (anyone in counseling should read it), or if you have someone in your life who struggles with it, or even know someone who knows someone because you will be better able to understand their trials (and triumphs).

After that, I got a bunch of books at Cokesbury and read "Sex God", which is also good. It's by Rob Bell and talks about issues of sexuality and how they relate to theology. He does a really nice job, and I really appreciate what he does with the Ephesians 5 chapter (a.k.a. "women submit to your husbands"), he frames it the way I have been thinking about it in recent months. I might write more on this later, but for now that's it.

Then, I got a call from a parishioner who had heard a women share her testimony and the parishioner wanted to give my contact info to the speaker. The speaker, Cheryl Cusella, called and shared some of her testimony with me and wants to speak at my church. I told her I'd talk to some of the women's groups and see if they'd be interested. Meanwhile, she had her mom drop off two copies of her book. I took one and gave the other to my senior. Well, I read it all yesterday and it was really pretty good.

Next on my list is "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle" by Barbara Kingsolver, which a friend recommended to me. It's on order from the library, so we'll see when it gets in.

I have another 20 books, easily, sitting on my shelf waiting to be read, some on preaching, some on leadership, some on spiritual disciplines, and maybe a few leisure books. So I am sure I have plenty more to read without asking this question, but I'll ask anyway....anything you're recommending these days?
it. After reading, I am not sure that anyone without the disorder will ever really

Thursday, November 22, 2007

The problem with privilege

I have been thinking about pieces of this post for a long time now, and figured today was as good a day as any to actually flesh out my thoughts.

I think the primary problem with privilege is we keep expecting more of it. Privilege is the fount of entitlement, which, in turn, is the fount of injustice, at least in my mind.

I have been realizing more and more lately how much privilege I enjoy. Both on a worldly level, and even by American standards. (For the record, I feel guilty about having many of these privileges, so I'm hesitant to even name them. I suppose in some ways, they could be my "thanksgiving list" but in other ways, they are a challenge to me to try and live differently, to understand others, and to not live with notions of entitlement).

Here are just a few privileges I enjoy:

1) A guaranteed job
2) 4 weeks paid vacation, promised by my church, plus study leave.
3) Enough funds to actually go places with my paid vacation.
4) Guaranteed medical insurance.
5) Freedom, for the most part, of sexual harassment in the work place and the ability to raise a fuss if an incident does occur.
6) Private transportation...a.k.a. a car.
7) A family that is on speaking terms, across the board.
8) The privilege/freedom to walk into a store and buy what I want, even if it's not on sale or not on my shopping list.
9) Being able to loan money to friends when they are stretched too tight.
10) Having a little bit more than living paycheck to paycheck.
11) Being able to work in a profession I love and care about.
12) Being able to express my opinions openly and honestly in just about any forum (this is as much a privilege of having been taught to express myself as it is a freedom of speech...)
13) Having clean drinkable water from the tap.
14) Being able to take a hot shower every day, any time I want.
15) Having a home that more than suits my needs.
16) Not having to endure abuse in my home.
17) Good credit.

I enjoy lots of other privileges. I'm sure I could go on and on and on. And others could probably also point out others that are so much a part of my privileged-ness that I don't even realize they are privileges. I think in some ways I struggle with a desire to renounce my privilege, because although in our modern world they are privileges, there are many I think of as rights, not privileges. I think everyone has the right (or at least should have the right) to express him/herself, to have a job they love, to have potable water throughout the day, to have enough to eat, to be free from abuses, etc. So there are some privileges I don't want to give up, both because I enjoy them, but also because I think all of us should be able to enjoy them. But in that I also have to recognize that as long as there are others who are not enjoying those privileges, it is, at least in part, because I have not fought hard enough for justice, or because I am hoarding the privilege for myself. And that is a problem.

I've thought about doing a Lenten discipline of trying to avoid the use of some of my privileges--of making a strict and limited budget and forcing myself to stick with it (in a sense forcing myself to live on minimum wage), even if things are tough, of not using my private transportation and forcing myself to use public transit or my own two feet, of not buying with credit. As I had mused on this post before, I had other ideas for what I should deny myself (including meat and specialty foods), but am lacking for some of those ideas now as I write. I also think that I shouldn't be so privileged as to wait until Lent. Maybe I should start today....and then I start justifying my actions..."well, it's Christmas time and that means shopping and so I don't want to begin a more limited budget now" know, the normal stuff--the normal stuff anyway for those of us with privilege enough that we can afford to wait.

Some might say I should just count my blessings today. But for those without these privileges, I probably stand as a reminder of what they don't have, of my elitism, and the nature of the beast where those with power and privilege refuse to actually change the system for fear that they (meaning me) would actually have to give something up. This post is humbling, and, in many ways, guilt inducing, which is probably a good indicator that things need to change.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

thanks but no thanks!

While Mr. Officer tried to start my holidays off right by giving me a present, I have decided, after many hours of deliberation, that he will not be my friend despite his generous gesture.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

What would you want in a answer....

Erika recently asked,

What would you want in a Bishop?

Here's my answer:
In selecting our next Bishop (or reselecting Bishop Swenson), I would love to have someone who is willing to set forth a big picture that takes us 5, 10, 20 years into the future. Even if we end up doing things differently, I think we need something concrete to grab onto. We need something people are excited about....AND that is tangible. The themes are nice...they're great guiding principals, but they are NOT concrete, and I don't see people teaching them and preaching them in a way that insights a following. To me it feels like saying, "we want to be good Christians"--it's sort of redundant and goes without saying, but we need specifics about what being a good Christian means. And we need to be challenged to grow in that. I think we need someone who is an encourager, who draws people into their vision through energy, charisma, and affirmation. I'd also like to see someone with an outspoken commitment to evangelism and church growth. I know...those are touchy subjects because we fear that in evangelizing we will be *evangelical*, and by commitment to evangelism I don't mean the Bible thumping stereotypes, I mean someone who believes in the power of the gospel and hopes that others will be truly transformed by their encounter with it. And I also know it isn't all about the numbers, but if we could get over our fear of putting that goal out there, we might have success. I think our reluctance speaks to those seeking churches and is literally killing us. We have a HUGE population (the largest in the nation) and there's no reason not to have big churches...simply as a matter of probability and statistics. I mean, CA has a population of almost 38 million people, which is expected to grow to 50 million by 2025 (I know it seems a long way off, but really only 18 years...only 1 generation) and Hawaii has about 1.3 million. Granted not all of CA is our conference, but you get the idea. If we had only 1% of those 38 million in the UMC, we'd have 380,000....compared to the 90,000 or so we have now...that'd be great! If we went for 5% we'd have 1.9 million. How cool would that be?!?! And that still leaves 95% for the baptists, catholics, jews, hindus, pagans, buddhists, episcopals, know?!

So that's my long-winded and lofty answer to the question.

The joys of being considered a 'sister'

For the record, being told you're considered to be a nun, or even a half nun doesn't do a whole lot for your self-image. So when you speak with a female clergy friend or your own female pastor...I recommend a different choice of words. 'Nuff said.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Quote of the Day

Me: "...and, it's weird because people think I'm a nun."
Mr Date Man: "what?!"
Me: "Well, they don't see many women clergy, and so when they hear I'm a pastor, they think I'm like a nun."
Mr. Date man: "I didn't think you were like a nun, I mean, I didn't go to that extreme....maybe like half way to a nun."

Worth Reading

As I read through the methoblog round-up, I came across this post. It is powerful and worth reading.

What do normal people talk about?!

(**note: in re-reading this post I found that it was all twist-tangled I editted it. I didn't add anything, or subtract for that matter, just fixed it so it makes sense.)

Last night I had an actual bona fide date with Mr. Date Man. It went really well. I was sort of surprised after all my anxiety and not really knowing him, but it went well. And, fortunately for me, I think he actually knows how to date, so things like the check and the doors were fluid and easy, instead of awkward and arguable. Thanks Mr. Date Man!

There are a lot of things about us that are different: where and how we grew up, our higher ed, our professions, how we spend our time, the content of our pasts. We spent the night navigating the waters of conversation, and it went fairly well. I mean we kept wanting to talk more, and I think that supposed to be a plus on a date. But really, I'm sort of a novice, so who knows! =)

Anyway, so this morning I have been thinking and I'm trying to come up with what normal people talk about. I mean, after the general basics of conversation, there has to be more to discuss, and quite frankly, I don't know what that *more* is. He's not really a church person, so my normal course of theological discussions, faith walk, and church people isn't really common ground. With my other non-church friends, we just talk about what we're doing, and mostly we see each other sporadically enough that we are catching up, rather than talking about things every day...not that we couldn't, but....I don't know what I'm trying to say. I guess just that in my head there is a whole gamut of *normal* that I don't have much interaction with. Mr. Date Man actually has a friends from work, people he goes out with, a karaoke bar he likes, habits of going out to concerts--you know...a LIFE! I, on the other hand, don't. I work. A lot. And when I don't work, I read, or cook, or watch movies, or hike...all mostly solitary things. I don't have a real social life. (
(yeah, that's a reality that is kinda hard to swallow, as much as I knew it before, it didn't really matter because the core of my friends are pastors too, so they don't have a life either!)

At one point he said, "so you don't really get out much do you?" Is it that obvious?!?! Dang. "Nope. I work a lot. And, I'm not really friends with the people I work with." Blank, quizzical look... "I mean, we have a staff, but I don't hang out with any of them, and the church folks, well, there's weird boundary and balance issues because as their pastor, I am a caregiver, so a truly reciprocal trusting relationship is hard to come by. And, I also deal in a lot of confidential conversations, so I can't exactly talk with person A and then go tell my friend, person B, because they sit in the pew next to each other. So yeah, it's just weird."

Mr. Date Man was really good about everything, idiosyncrasies and all. He didn't make me feel weird, but nevertheless, I don't know that I have ever felt so foreign about what I do or who I am (as a Christian). My experiences and such just don't seem normal. They seem strange. Weird. Alien. And actually it's more of a good thing than bad. It makes me realize I really do need to get out more, branch out more, and really encounter people beyond my setting. I mean, even when I meet people that don't go to church, by in large, they grew up in the church, or in another faith setting, so there's a common ground to fall back on.

So my question for today is: What do normal people talk about?!?!

Interfaith Service Message...(Luke 10)

When asked as a Christian pastor to share a message on “loving our neighbor”, the topic initially seemed simple. For me one of the most common stories of the bible is that of the Good Samaritan and the command to love our neighbor.

When asked, “who is my neighbor” Jesus tells a story of a man stripped, robbed, and beaten to within an inch of his life and left on the side of the road. He tells of two men, men we would have expected to be holy and helpful, who not only don’t help, but who avoid him at all costs. And then we hear of a third man, the Samaritan, who comes and tends to the man, who takes him to shelter, cares for him through the night, and then pays for his care while the Samaritan man is away. This Samaritan went above and beyond. Maybe even this seems do-able. Helping people who are bleeding and dying doesn’t take much of a stretch of our imagination. Generally, I think we want to help people, especially those of us who are people of faith. We want to do good. We want people to be cared for. We want to love our neighbor.

Now, when I hear the word “neighbor” I think of the boys across the street I used to play with, or the lady next door who used to give me candy. I think of people who would buy my Girl Scout cookies or band candy. I think of people I know and loved and spent much time with.

And when Jesus tells me to love my neighbor, I am happy to go along. But in reading this text and really studying it, one finds the part of the story that does not come across readily to a modern reader-- that the Jews and the Samaritans were enemies. These were people who did not associate with one another, they were taught to hate each other. The man in the story wasn’t actually a neighbor, he wasn’t beloved and well known; he was an enemy. Jesus tells us that we are to love our enemy. Well that’s a bigger sacrifice.

And in essence, what Jesus tells us is that love means sacrifice.

Love doesn’t necessarily mean that warm fuzzy feeling we get—love is a verb. It requires action. Love is something we do. And this neighborly love of which Christ speaks is to be offered to those who challenge us to love them. It’s to be shared with your belligerent neighbor, your neglectful so-called friends, it’s for the addict who keeps promising to quit and doesn’t. It’s for the sinner who simply disgusts you with their actions.

This commandment is a challenge. It’s not simple or easy. It means trying and trying again, even when you don’t want to. It means persisting with those who seem to simply refuse to be loved.

And this persistence is warranted not so we can be considered great lovers of people, but so that others will know the greatness of God’s love. Christ tells us that loving a friend or family member is no challenge, the true test comes when we love our enemy, and in showing love for that person—the true abundance of God’s love shines through.

Recently I was having trouble with a situation and my sister offered to pray for me. In her prayer, she said, “and may the reconciliation offered be such that it cannot be mistaken for human action, but can only be seen as your doing, O God.” In a way, that’s the purpose of Jesus’ command to love our enemies—so that the love shown cannot be mistaken for human action devoid of the divine, but instead so that everyone who sees the love shown between enemies would know that God’s love is more powerful than our hatred, disgust, hurt, and bitterness.

The Greek word used for love here is agape. Agape is the love God showed through the person of Jesus Christ—self-giving love that persists through life’s greatest challenges. And when we show agape to others, we aren’t simply loving, we are showing a glimpse of the divine—we are helping God to be made manifest in the lives of others.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

What a morning

This morning during the scripture reading I heard a parishioner speaking. He has a voice that booms, even in a whisper, and is very easy to identify (partly because he's so loud and partly because he's got a New York accent). I started thinking to myself, K, you gotta be quieter. I was distracted from the scripture reading and he kept talking. I thought maybe he was explaining something to a neighbor, but still. He kept talking. I closed my eyes and tried to focus. Someone should tell him to hush. Why isn't his wife jabbing him in the side telling him to be quieter?? He's still talking and I hear him giving directions to the church...okay fine, maybe he has a friend coming who's lost...I'll let that slide. The scripture reading finished and a woman approached the chancel and called me toward her as my senior got up to preach, only he went to pray...okay, so I honestly thought he was going to pray for this man who had so rudely interrupted service. Then I reached the woman and she told me that a visitor had passed out and K had called the paramedics. OOOOhhhhh...oops, my bad.

I left the chancel and went to check on the man. We have a number of nurses in the congregation and they were all attending to him. They had him laid out on a pew and he was out cold. I stepped into the pew and Nurse E said, "He's not breathing. I think we have to do CPR. Can you do the breathing?" Yeah. (I think CPR is one of those things I assume I can do. You know, you see it enough times on TV and I did have that one class 14 years ago...sure, I can do that.) So I knelt down and listened and couldn't hear his breathing. Nurse E told me to go ahead and I tried to adjust his head, but it wasn't really adjusting, nor was his mouth really ready to open. His jaw felt clenched. (for the record, none of this is really registering for me...not in the EMERGENCY sense of it anyway.) Finally Nurse E was like, "you need to pinch his nose and breathe into his mouth. oh yeah. the nose pinch....of course. So I do and I breathe. "No, breathe hard, twice." (I hate to make light of what could have been a very tragic situation, but the breaths I was giving were little baby breaths, like the kind you blow on the face of a baby, not the kind required to fill someone's lungs). Nurse E did a few compressions and he responded. But he still wasn't breathing well and his pulse was still weak. So she told me to do a couple more breaths, so I did and after that he came to and opened his eyes. He didn't know what had happened but did know where he was. After a couple of minutes Nurse E had him sit up and he wasn't dizzy and seemed to be fine.

I checked back in with the men waiting outside for the ambulance and then went back to the chancel. I saw the EMTs come in and check him out, ask him questions, and they he walked

It was quite the experience. I've never actually had to do CPR on a live person, and like I said, my last training was 14 years ago. I think I might need a refresher course. For the record, if you ever have occasion to do this, it is helpful to have more than one person, the mouth might not fully open, and you actually have to transfer a significant amount of air from your lungs to theirs. No baby breaths.
out, unassisted, to the ambulance. Word was he didn't even want to go to the hospital, though they did take him as a precaution.

Fighting world hunger

A friend of mine recently told me about this site: Basically they give you vocab words and you have to give the definition, for each definition you get right, they donate 10 grains of rice. I coupled it with this site to up my odds! It's fun and a cool way to educate yourself and do some giving at the same time.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Quote of the Day

"Well, they might just be the two biggest sermons you'll preach in your life. And you might not get into heaven if you don't do well." --R.D.

Plumbing problems

I think some of the really tough spiritual work we do can be compared to a plumbing job. By "really tough spiritual work" I mean the digging in the corners of our past and bringing our sins to light so we can honestly ask for forgiveness, dealing with our "demons" (e.g., self-doubt, anger, pride, prejudice, the "isms", the list goes on and on...), confronting loneliness, depression, illness, or tragedy and reconciling that with the promise of God's constant love and mercy. There are probably a host of other things that could be mentioned on that list, but hopefully you get the picture. Metaphorically, I think it's like plumbing for the following reasons:

1) If you're a novice, you're pretty much guaranteed at least 6 trips to the hardware store (a.k.a. spiritual storehouse) before the job is actually done.

2) If you mickey mouse a job the first time you *fix* it, you will pay the consequences later. The second time around, the job may even be more extensive than it would have been if it had been done right the first time.

3) There are lots of details that may seem unimportant when you set off to the store, but become increasingly important as you decide which items you need.

4) You are forced to work generally for one of 3 reasons: a) a flood/overflow b) a leak c) things are backed up. Spiritually, these three things also occur...a flood might be likened to a crisis; the leak to some incessant problem that isn't major, but could be if it's allowed to persist; being backed up to not feeling the flow of the Spirit, or of creativity, or of spiritual disciplines...something is impeding what would otherwise be the natural movement of things.

5) When embarking on this kind of work, you're pretty much guaranteed to deal with crap...either the literal variety or the figurative stuff--the slimy, nasty, black sludge that builds up over time. Either way, it's gross and most of us would rather retreat than finish the job, but, your spiritual journey is important, just like plumbing , and it can't go left undone on the floor for very long before things really do get nasty!

year of a million dreams

This year has been Disneyland's "Year of a million dreams." Word on the street is they are going to continue it for another year, but I have yet to confirm that. I have been thinking a lot about the many privileges I have and the level of excess in our nation. Last night, we watched the fireworks show, which was beautiful, but I couldn't help but think, "How much money was spent on this?" I often have trouble really enjoying things because I get concerned with what is being wasted, thrown away, or spent that could be invested differently. As I stood there, I thought, this easily cost $10,000, if not $20,000 or $30,000. And being a former math nerd, I kept doing the math--well, this is their Christmas show, so that's a month and a half of spending...45 days, let's say. If we go with a base cost...that's $450,000. That's almost half a million dollars. Holy cow!! I wondered what would happen if they spent that on feeding starving children or something less empty. Not that I don't enjoy fireworks, but it's hard to think of how much good could be done with such a grand amount of money. So, I'm thinking Disney is hardly going to listen to me or cancel their fireworks shows for the season, but I thought, if I were granted my Disney dream, it would be to have the money spent on the fireworks for a night donated to charity. That's my dream for the year of a million dreams.

Friday, November 16, 2007

It's still Friday...

...but just barely. But as far as NaBloPoMo is concerned, that's all that matters! I got to spend the day at Disneyland with my parents, which was wonderful. It was nice to be away. I spent a lot of time in my head, which is only proof of the overwhelming nature of everything that seems to be happening these days. I still don't have everything sorted out and will have to do some journaling to make good sense of it, some of which may be posted at a later time. But for now, this is all you get.

May the grace and peace of the coming season rain down with blessings on you!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

the introduction...

With the prospect of a date on my horizon and an overwhelming look at my calendar, or maybe that's a look at my overwhelming calendar, I was prompted to think, "what would happen if I were to take Mr. Date-man to a church event?" Let's just say I began to be thoroughly amused. First off, one must acknowledge that this man would not go unnoticed. There's no way he could . Why? Well, let's start with the fact that anyone under the age of 35 has a big glowing neon sign hung over his/her head for all my older congregants to see. Secondly, if he came with me, there'd definitely be a hullabulloo. The church doesn't know my people. I mean, they know my parents and my sister and her family, but they've never met my brother or his wife (competing Sunday morning services'll do that), and never have they met a friend, let alone one of the male variety. There'd be a 1000 questions, and probably some minor jealousy from a couple folks. Why an 85 year old would be jealous of the status of my age appropriate date, I'll never know. anyway. So here I am imagining these encounters and then my ensuing explanations of why church folks act the way they do to this man. "Well, they're sort of like a big happy (or not so happy) extended family. They are a little over-protective; and yes, they really do think it's their right to ask you all those questions. No I'm not inclined to answer them all, but yes, it is a big like living in a nice fish bowl. So....ready to go out again!?!" Can't wait for the fun to begin.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Joshua 1--the recap

Last Sunday, I preached Joshua 1 where Joshua is installed as Israel's new leader (after Moses' death) and he is to take the Israelites to the promised land, but meanwhile the Gadites, Rubenites and half tribe of Manasseh, who have already received their promised land (that of modern day Jordan) were asked, the men who were able, to take up their arms and help the Israelites fight to receive their promise--the modern parallel was that many of us are like the Gadites etc....we have already received God's promise, and now we are called to take up our spiritual arms and help those who have yet to receive the promise enter into the promised land.

Preaching challenge

A couple of months ago, I was asked to preach at the upcoming Interfaith service as the Christian voice. There will also be a Rabbi and an Imam who preach. The theme: loving your neighbor. Simple enough. Pretty common Christian theme, right? And what's the most famous "love your neighbor passage? --> The Good Samaritan. Still fairly straightforward, right? Here's the catch--the sermon is only supposed to be 6-7 minutes long. Are you kidding? 6-7 minutes? For someone who tends to preach anywhere from 15-30 depending on the day and the text, that's quite a feat. And this text, for the record, is one of those that would have me tending toward 30. Realistically with that kind of time frame, there's not even a chance to read the text...barely even to summarize it if I want to make the key points about what exactly the dynamic was between the Samaritans and the Jews (racist, inflammatory, filled with hate and prejudice), the level of humility seen here, and modern parallels of who our *neighbor* is and what it means for us to reach out and help (a list a mile long if you ask me--domestic violence survivors, rape survivors, the often mistreated LGBT community, those in Darfur, gang members, undocumented immigrants, Muslim extremists, terrorists, G.W., those with AIDS, those without health care....the list goes on and on and on.) And you want me to keep it to 6 minutes?!?!

Quote of the day

I'm currently reading Sex God by Rob Bell. I'm really enjoying it, though his writing style sometimes seems disjointed to me (though I think that's one of those "the-things-that-bother-you-about-other-people-are-the-problems-within-yourself" things). Anyway, today's quote comes from him: (p. 106-108).

"Our tendency in the midst of suffering is to turn on God. To get angry and bitter and shake our fist at the sky and say, 'God, you don't know what it's like! You don't understand! You have no idea what I'm going through. You don't have a clue how much this hurts.' The cross is God's way of taking away all of our accusations, excuses, and arguments. the cross is God taking on flesh and blood and saying, 'Me too.' The cross is where we present our wounds to God and say, 'here, you take them.' Our healing begins when we participate in the suffering of God. When we don't avoid it but enter into it, and in the process enter into the life of God. When we see our pain not as separating us from but connecting us to our maker. And in this connection, there's always the chance we'll find a reason to risk again. If God can continue to risk, then maybe we can too. Perhaps you have had your heart broken by somebody. You risked and extended and offered yourself, and they rejected and turned away and didn't return your love. There is something divine in your suffering. Somebody divine in your pain. You know how God feels. Really good, loving people get hurt. It's how things are. The danger is that you will decide it isn't worth it. Why risk if it's going to hurt like this? The tragedy would be for you to shut down, to allow a wall to be built around your heart, and for something within you to die. A decision not to risk again is a decision not to love again. They go together."

News bulletin and call to action

I assume most, if not all, of you are aware of the genocide in Darfur. It's been going on for years now and hundreds of thousands of people. If you don't know about it, click here for more info.

I'm on their regular email list and get updates and requests to send a letter to a senator or other official regarding the destruction and violence and calling people to action. Recently there have been demands for divestment from companies who are aiding different things in China, which is one of the major arms contributors to this area. Currently there is a need to contact senators about approving emergency funding--a decision which must be made by the end of the year. As we know, Congress can be lethargic in voting in good legislation, so pressure needs to be applied. If you have not yet made your voice heard, I encourage you to do so. "If enough of us speak out, our voices will be heard." You can find online petitions and your representatives' voting records here. Below is an email urging folks to act:

Just a few weeks ago, President Bush heeded the call from Darfur activists and asked Congress to approve emergency funding for these peacekeepers.

Now we must keep the heat on Congress to fulfill America's commitments to the critical U.N.-A.U. peacekeeping mission.

Congress must approve the emergency funding by the end of the year or the peacekeeping mission is likely to be delayed. And, as you know all too well, the people of Darfur cannot afford any more delays.

With your help, we will ensure that Darfur peacekeeping does not become a casualty of Washington politics.

Thank you again for all you do for Darfur.

Best regards,

Colleen Connors
Save Darfur Coalition

P.S. Tune in to your local PBS station on Tuesday, November 20, for a FRONTLINE investigation about the international community's failure to stop the genocide in Darfur. Visit for local listings and a preview.

Your voice matters. Your vote counts. Hold your representatives accountable and ask them to vote for the things that matter to you!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Dating Dizziness...

I don't know how many of you are dating (mostly because I don't know the identity of all my readers...supposing there are more than the 3 I do know...anyway), but for me dating is one of the most stressful and feasibly unenjoyable things I could do with my time. Now, granted, once the ice has been broken and you're enjoying yourself, dating can be a blast, but the anticipation, lead-up, and early awkwardness make it almost forbidden in my mind. I mean really, do people actually enjoy this? With the prospect of a date on my horizon, here's what's running through my head:

A date, I could do a date. hey, wait, I don't really know Mr. Date-Man, so this is kinda like a blind date. Ugh. Okay not exactly, but still, ugh. That means there's those weird getting to know you things...the things that might go unnoticed or unstated with someone you do know...become terribly important and vexing. Man, this means I have to think about who pays the I grab it? offer to pay? offer to pay half? offer to pay tip? Just assume that since he invited, he's paying? Ugh. Oh yeah, then there's the door thing...dang door I let him open the door? Do I wait for him to open my door or just get in and out? I hate waiting for someone to do something I am perfectly capable of doing. Dang door thing. What if there's weird conversation problems? what if he asks: so tell me about yourself. Oh how I hate that prompt. It's so uninspiring. I think that probably provokes the MOST boring answers about myself I could think of. I have # siblings, grew up in Podunk small town, went to Y university, went to Z seminary, like to travel, read, hike, and cook. Anything else? Okay, cool. Then I guess we're done talking...right?!? Oh man I hate dating, it makes my head hurt. Then there's the question of what to wear...pants? skirt? dressy? casual? hair natural? done up? make up? My former philosophy was I would dress down as much as possible ( close to sweats as possible without looking like I really had just fallen out of bed). My strategy was that if I looked bad, then I would know what they really thought of me and I would deter any misguided souls. Maybe it worked, maybe it didn't, 'cause let me tell you I still met my share of misguided souls...and I really didn't have many good dates under this mode of operation. So now I try and look decent, but not overdone, which is such a chore. Burgers and bowling people; I'm a simple woman. Really, it's less complicated. I know what to wear to burgers and bowling...dinner at a real restaurant...who the heck knows?! Again, I'm asking, who actually enjoys this? Does anyone else suffer from this minor neurosis of questions and quandaries? Oh yeah, and don't even get me started on the close of the date business....walking to the car? or walking to the door? hug? kiss? kiss on the cheek? let's do this again? I had a great time? what if you never to do this again, how do you say that nicely?

Ay, ay, ay....

Monday, November 12, 2007

The problem with NaBloPoMo

The problem with NaBloPoMo is that it requires you to be interesting, creative, insightful, and/or funny EVERY day for a month. That's a big ticket to fill. Maybe not for all of you, but man, I've either got it or I don't--meaning, either I post 3-5 times in one day with all the crazy stuff running through my head, OR, I'm stuck with not a whole lot of anything. Bummer. I wish I could wow you with my wit, or stir you up with my passion, but today, the inspiration for either of those post evades me.

Today has been a chill sabbath of good food (omelette, homemade refried beans--SO simple--okay maybe not as simple as opening the can, but SO simple and good...with no preservatives...and it's veggie friendly, homemade tortilla soup, and chocolate chip cookies), cleaning, crafting, vegging, and sleeping. The only thing the day lacked was a good book, but the library was closed and the book I wanted at the bookstore was not on sale...oh well.

I did have a genius idea though when I was making cookies. I decided that it would be fun to take fresh baked cookies to parishioners when I go to visit. How cool would it be to get fresh baked cookies when the pastor comes to visit?!?! I'd be stoked. So, I made a double batch and froze some dough so I can bake a couple at a time when I need to. Otherwise I have a dozen for one family, a dozen for another family, a couple for 2 other parishioners, a half dozen for my Senior, and some for the office. I also thought that it might help me win people over when I get a different appointment, as I do my intro visits, take cookies!! It's reverse hospitality and seems very fun (aside from the prospect of making I-don't-know-how-many cookies)!

note: if you decide to do the cookie freezing thing, make them into balls first, then freeze. Then when you want them, cook as you would normally, either frozen or defrosted.

Homemade Refried Beans Recipe:
(makes about 4 servings)
Rinse 1 cup dried red beans (remove any small stones)
Put in crock pot
Add 3.5 cups water, 1 tsp salt, 1/2 white/yellow onion (big chunks, you will want to take the onion out later)
Cook on low for appx. 8 hours or on high for appx 4 hours
Remove onion.
In medium/large pan on medium heat, add beans, salt and garlic powder/salt to taste. Mash.
Serve hot.

quote of the day

"...the people are so nice here, they even comp'd me a room....'cause I'm down $5800."

wife: "$5800???"

husband: "yeah, down here that's like a dollar."

wife: "yeah, out here that's like six grand."

I don't even know what this commercial was for...I just liked it!

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Bible study 101

I now have 5 youth leaders I work with for the youth group. Some do primary special events, some do studies once a month and one is there weekly with me. As part of their development, we're working on various aspects of their leadership (spiritual development, small group leadership, understanding the "ologies", knowing your communication style, knowing your leadership strengths). This week it was Bible Study 101 and they found it really helpful. It's a basic structure for leading the Bible study--basically exegesis basics, it can be used with any group with little prep on up to full prep. I thought I'd post in case it might prove helpful...

Bible Study Leading

What? (Key words or phrases…what is being said here?)

· Key words or phrases

1. _________________________________________________

2. _________________________________________________

3. _________________________________________________

4. _________________________________________________

So what? (significance or meaning of the words, themes…what’s really being said here?)

· Themes

1. _________________________________________________

2. _________________________________________________

3. _________________________________________________

4. _________________________________________________

Now what? (how do we apply the message/story to us? How do we use it? How does it challenge us?)

· Practical Application

1. _________________________________________________

2. _________________________________________________

3. _________________________________________________

4. _________________________________________________

Resources: Bible translations, Bible commentaries (New Interpreter’s Bible series is at the Church library, online resources:, study guide books)

Important things to remember

· It’s not about perfect answers; it is about conversation and discovery

· You have something to teach and to offer

· It’s okay not to know

Saturday, November 10, 2007

The no hug rule

The other day I stayed with my cousin since I had to be in San Diego for a meeting. In the morning, we were watching the news and her husband repeated a piece for me, asking, "did you hear about the school that's banned hugging?!" I'm sorry, what?!? Banned hugging? Are you kidding? Is this some sort of homophobic intolerance thing? "Nope. It's for everybody." one can hug? You're kidding right?! Man people are ignorant. Lord have mercy. I looked up the subject and found various articles in different states. This one cites "gray area" as one of the motivators...that there is gray area with touch, so therefore BAN IT ALL. Of course there is gray area. Life is gray area. Things are not black and white. Things are not clear cut, and if we prohibit our children and youth from the gray area then how in the world do we expect them to navigate the even larger expanses of gray area once they are adults?!?

I get that the schools are trying to avoid lawsuits and inappropriate touch issues, but here's what I think:

I think we
need human to human contact. We need touch. We need hugs and kisses, and pats on the back. It's good for us. Haven't you heard of the 7 hugs a day rule? (This article highlights some of these things) We are not solitary beings, we are communal--created so we would have companionship, created by a God who in God's self lives community (3 persons, one essence...). Not to mention the many times Jesus touches someone to heal them, forgive them, or revive them. We need touch. And it's when we get deprived of touch that things start to go haywire. In Spanish there's a word: acariciar. While there are translations for it (caress, touch lightly, stroke), those don't quite get to the full meaning. We don't have a good English equivalent...if we had a word like "to affection" that would be a better fit in my opinion. Acariciar is to share affection with someone, to be affectionate. Cariño is the noun, it means affection. My theory is that when we are deprived of this necessary touch, that's what leads to perversion, problems, and inappropriate touch. When you couple the lack of affection with the oversexualization in our culture and the media, you have a potent combination. (Think of folks who have someone their attracted to touch their arm--instantly it's turned into a question of flirtation and lust. Think of how we guard ourselves against being too affectionate with those we care for (especially friends) for fear of being misinterpreted.) Trust me, as a mandatory reporter and someone who's worked with survivors of sexual and domestic violence, I'm very aware of how dangerous inappropriate/improper touch can be. And we can't just go around touching and hugging people at random--we've been cultured differently than that and there would be problems, but we do have to teach good touch. We need to model good cariño. Healthy hugging. Non-sexual cuddling. I think if we did more hugging and healthy touch, then people would be less prone to perversions, and if we had more instances of non-sexual/platonic touch, then we wouldn't feel like every time someone touched us that it had some sort of sexual meaning.

Going back to the school thing...I was a good student. Never really in trouble (sometimes I got a little brazen in speaking to my teachers...but never anything major). I obeyed the rules, the dress code, attendance, everything. But let me tell you, if this stupid hug rule had been enacted at my school, I probably would have been sent to the principal's office at least a couple times a week. I'm amazed that such a rule would be made...that everyone on the school board or PTA or whatever of a school could be so myopic as to not understand the need for touch, for affection, for students to be able to share love and care with one another. God help us.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Food as the 6th language

Last month I wrote about the love languages. Tonight as I sliced, prep'd, and fixed dinner I was thinking about how much I enjoy cooking for people. Part of what I enjoy about my new Y.A. study is that I get to cook for them. I cook on Friday nights...or at least I have so far. One could say that cooking is a "acts of service" expression, but I think for my family, food is a love language in and of itself. My mom's mom always used to make huge meals for us when we visited, all my aunt's cook, when I visit my cousin she cooks...and it's not just cooking to have a meal, but it's special food, dishes that require time and fun ingredients. Food is how we express love. In many ways, food is how I express love. Tasty dishes, new flavors, hours in the kitchen so everyone can share a good meal--that's love.

Cooking lesson learned...

I am fairly uninspired to write today. I had a few things go through my head yesterday, but today....not so much. My learning for today was that it is not good to over spice chili. I put too much cayenne in and it is super spicy. I added more corn, sugar, chocolate, tomato paste...still pretty spicy. (Even for me, a Californian who grew up eating salsa and chiles...). On most occasions I am a good cook, my friends even request my cooking, so when I botch it, I feel like a complete idiot. Urgh.

Now it's time for my Young Adult Bible study...we'll see if I have posting inspirations afterward.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Some things just get to me

I am not a huge fan of forwards, and I regularly feel inundated by them. If they're really good...fine....but otherwise, I could do without. Mostly I get the faith ones, or jokes, or ocassionally the petition for something...and sometimes, these are the ones that normally burn me up, I get political ones....but rarely are they political ones I agree, I get incendiary ones that seem short sighted and ignorant. I hate these forwards. Today I got one about a postage stamp...not just any postage stamp, but the EID stamp-- the one that commemorates/honors two Muslim holidays. This message got to me for a number of reasons:

1) The issuing of the stamp is YEARS old and the forward reads as if we are responding to something current.

2) The email sites all kinds of wrongs committed by if that was all Muslims ever did was attack and bomb people. Apparently all Muslims were a part of these atrocities. Could we try remembering the contributions Muslims have made?

3) One line is "Holiday postage stamp. Bull!" Like no one else has holidays, like honoring those holidays is ridiculous?!?! Should we cut out the Chanukah and Kwanza ones too? Might as well do Christmas...

I saw the person who sent this email to me later in the day (keeping in mind he has no idea about my political leanings...we've never talked about it and I don't mention them at church), and he (excitedly) asked what I thought of the email he had sent me. I brusquely responded, "You don't want to know what I think of the email you sent me." "Oh." And that was it. When I got home I sent an email and apologized for being short with him, but also sent information about the stamp and my frustrations with the email.

The basic outline of the email is:

Remember the muslims who....bombed X boat

Remember the muslims who....bombed Y embassy

Remember the muslims who....bombed Z building

yadda, yadda, remember the people who died. Boycott this stamp in honor of those people.

Part of me wants to say,

Remember the Christians who crusaded across Europe killing lots of folks?

Remember the Christians who bombed an abortion clinic and killed people?

Remember the Christians who burned people at the stake?

Remember them? Now remember the people who died. Boycott the (Christmas) stamp in honor of those people.

Neither of these extremes is appropriate, nor is either helpful. I'm not proud of the atrocities the other people of my faith have committed. Nor are my Muslim friends proud of the atrocities committed by others of their faith. We all have religious zealots--people who go to an extreme and we MUST remember they do not symbolize all of us. The extremists do not stand for what I stand for, nor are they necessarily representative of the majority. We can't run around condemning entire groups of people for the sins of a few. Come on.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

The Dating World

To be quite honest, I am not a fan of dating. I like being in a committed relationship and sharing experiences, conversations, and affection with someone. But I do not like the first date business, the awkward silences, the weirdness at the end of the night, the dance of getting to know one another, while trying to only present the best of one's self, and discerning just what exactly the other person's actions mean. So not a fan. If I could skip to the 6 month stage with my next partner that'd be genial. At dinner with a good friend from college, we talked about dating more than one person at a time. Now, I've always been the kind of person who simply dates one person--as in, he's my boyfriend, and we only date each other. Despite my parents insistence, I mean, encouragement, over the years, I've never really like just in going out on a date and "exploring"--a term I find to mean something very different from when they were dating 35 years ago. So, seeing as I have this history, I hold to the notion that I wouldn't just date around seeing various men. My friend, a psychologist with a masters in MFT, insists this dating multiple people thing is normal, that if I'm not in a committed monogamous relationship, that I'm free to date (around). We went in circles a bit on this issue "I can't" "No, you choose not to; there's a difference." Our conversation was left unresolved and we moved onto other subjects, though not after I argued that as a pastor it's weird for me to date multiple people at the same time...that it can easily be misperceived. At the end of the night, as we said our goodbyes, he gave me permission to engage in the dating world.

Now, faithful readers, I'm requesting your feedback....thoughts on "dating" (as in outside the realm of a monogomous committed relationship...a.k.a. what dating used to mean)...and thoughts on how that practice might be different for clergy vs. regular folks.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Accident, Sweet, or Stalkerish??

As most of you know, Mondays are my day off, and as such, I turn off my work phone. So this morning, I turned the phone on and started listening to messages. One was a message that a meeting would have to be rescheduled, another from my perpetual caller, and the third “I’ve had the time of my life” playing in the background with no actual message. It played for almost the whole song. There were no background voices. No nothing, other than this song. At first, I only knew it was a song, it was after a minute or so that I registered which song it was. I listened until it was finished. My phone had been off, so there was no caller ID to look for. I laughed to myself. First of all, I’ve had no moments/experiences as of late (as in, within the past 2 years) that would warrant that song, let alone any on my work phone. That realization made begin to worry. Having lived under the surveillance of a stalker for a few months during seminary, a red flag immediately went up. Who would have left that message? Why? But there isn’t even a likely candidate who comes to mind. Just plain strange I tell you. Just strange.

"You're pretty intense"

Today I had lunch with a clergy friend. We had met last year on a work trip and talked easily about conference things and the ministry. I was going to be in his neck of the woods, so I figured I’d see if he was free, and he was, so we met up. As we talked, I asked lots of questions. He’s someone I respect and admire, so I was inclined to ask a variety of questions, both practical and philosophical.

If you could change 3 things in our conference, what would they be?

What do you think we should be telling the Bishop?

What goals do you have for yourself?

If you could re-do anything in your ministry, what would it be?

He answered many of the questions, wanted more time for others, and tried to avoid others. I didn’t think much of my questions, just wanted to know more from him. After awhile he indicated that the questions made him uneasy. He said multiple times that I was “intense.” Now, I don’t know about you, but when I hear that, I am not exactly super excited for having received such a marvelous compliment. I take it to mean I am pushy, too direct, and too much. He began to ask if I was always this way (yeah, probably, I don’t have much interest in the superficial conversations, so yeah, I ask deep penetrating questions), and what my dating relationships are like (as in, men must run from your intensity—though, when I said that, he claimed that was not what he meant).

Now, I don’t ask “what are your life goals” in every conversation, nor “what are your regrets and what would you do differently if you had the chance?” But I do like to ask things that matter. I like to know people, and not just what their favorite color is.

When I was in seminary, I dated a man who called me intimidating. His reasoning for that statement was because I made constant, unrelenting eye contact. Sorry. I like eye contact. I want you to know I am listening and I want to watch/read your eyes as you talk.

Part of me wants to then water down the intensity and intimidation, but the other part of me says, “Tough. If you can’t deal with it, I’m sorry for you.”

I don’t generally think of myself as intense, so I lean toward the “tough” answer. But maybe I am. Maybe I do need to be a kinder gentler me.

Taylor the Wonder Dog

The other day I took a parishioner home, so I put Taylor in the back seat. She perched herself up on the armrest to look at the window, desperately hoping I would roll it down. Because I had the air conditioning on (yes, it’s still that hot where I live), I didn’t. As we turned the corner toward my apartments, I heard her window go down and she gleefully put her head out to enjoy the breeze. I was thoroughly amazed that my dog could be smart enough to roll the window down! Now, I am smart enough to recognize it was an accident/coincidence/luck, but, I also know my dog is smart enough to put two and two together. I’ll be interested to see if there is a recurrence of this amazing incident!

Monday, November 5, 2007

Eggplant in Curry Coconut Sauce

This is another favorite recipe. It's what's for dinner tonight!

A day of good conversations

Today is my sabbath and I have to be across town tomorrow, so I decided to come across town early and stay with my grandma. I spent the morning at the mall (something I NEVER do anymore) and started with a conversation with a very nice Armenian/Syrian man at the men's store. The conversation started because another man walked by and greeted him in Arabic ("saba-hal-hair"), so I asked where he was from. He said Syria, and I asked where and he said Damascus. I told him I had been a few years back and that got the conversation rolling. We talked for easily 20 or 30 minutes, which was fun.

Then I kept wandering through the mall and one of the cart guys stopped me to brush my boots. Typically I am a COMPLETE sucker for these kinds of people/sales. Hook line and sinker. And I am learning this about myself, I must practice greater self-restraint. He was having a slow day and trying everything he could think of to make the sale and finally he asked what I do. So I told him, and then that totally shifted the conversation to him and how he used to play in a band at a church, but stopped going, and doesn't go anymore, but does send his tithe "so [he] won't go broke". What?!?! I called him on that and we talked about working on our relationship with God, how Sundays aren't the only day for church, and what his heart wanted for God. It was cool to have that conversation with him, and so unexpectedly. We talked some more and I asked what I could pray for for him and then he did the I-gotta-get-back-to-work-or-you're-gonna-make-me-cry bit and I went on my way. (I know, I could have pushed, but he even physically walked away which said he wasn't ready to go there).

Then I had lunch with a friend from college whom I haven't seen since college. It was SO good to talk with her and she too needed to share. She cried and talked. (Can I just say I LOVE tears? I love how genuine they are. I love how real that expression feels to me).

And then I came on to my grandma's house and am enjoying talking with her. Which I am off to do some more of.