Saturday, December 18, 2010

Giving In to Being THAT Person

Merry Christmas!
Cat Ladies

Yes, after decades of swearing I'd never be the person who takes a Christmas photo with my pet, here we are on the steps of our new home, red and green flannels declaring the season.

But having come very close to losing the sweet, dopey lap kitty on the left only a week ago, it seems right for me to share the ways the furry ones enrich our lives.

These creatures are always present: loving beings who are aware of us constantly. They sense a change of mood, a change of tone, and respond with unconditional love (yes, they want food, too--don't you?!). Often people associate such traits with dogs only, but in each kitty I've been blessed with attentive and responsive affection, playfulness and a joy that only an animal can bestow. 

We've had these two for 10 years. Who knows how much longer they'll be a part of our lives, but I give thanks that we have the opportunity to know such love as animals bring.

I hope you have also known that kind of joy!
Merry Christmas.

Friday, November 5, 2010

It is Well with My Soul

Friday Five: It Is Well With My Soul Edition

kathrynzj offers today's FF, saying: We lead privileged lives.

True, some are more privileged than others but the fact that we are
communicating right now via technological devices puts us in the
privileged category.

There are many perks in my life for which I give thanks and then 
there are some that make everything right in the world during the 
moment I am enjoying them. I'm wondering what a few of those 
things - five to be specific - are for you.

To help you along here are just three of mine that I will write more
about on my blog: drinking coffee out of a real mug, walking into my
home after the domestic goddess has been there, participating in
the RevGalBlogPals Big Events.

SUNSHINE--it is well with my soul when I am sitting in a big window
(or, if it's just the right temperature, outside) with sun shining full on
me. Mmmmm, soaking in that warmth and light heals my entire being,
including my soul.

WRITING--it is well with my soul when I have the time and space to write,
write well, and know I'll have a chance to share what I've put my whole
self into (e.g.: sermon-writing and preaching).

HOME--it is well with my soul when I am in the space that I call home.
When everything is in its place, and the things that lift my spirit surround
me, I can just be.

BATH TUB--it is well with my soul when I can "take a tubby"-warm water,
good book, nobody around and no to-do list.

DRIVING/SINGING--it is well with my soul when I can sing at the top of
my lungs with nobody around to hear the lyrics (and notes) that I make
up. Sad mood, joyful mood, angry mood, 'tude mood--singing!

...and my KITTERS and being able to lounge late in BED and spending
time with good FRIENDS and, without a doubt, whenever JAMIE and I
can just love each other...

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Purple People of the Promise

This month I wrote my church newsletter article on the bullying that has made the news recently. I felt the need to share it more broadly, so here it is:

Purple People of the Promise

I write this Placard article with a purple pen in a purple notebook wearing a purple shirt on a day when our nation has been encouraged to show PURPLE in support of all the bullied teens who have reached the point where they feel suicide to be their only option. This purple day was inspired by the teen suicide deaths—those many that made the news and those (far more) that did not—in September and October. Clearly, this is a topic that touches the core of my being.
            I have had Plymouth members ask, “what can we do?” both to help stop the bullying that breaks down kids’ spirits and to support young people who experience bullying. It is such a multi-faceted problem that we often feel helpless—particularly if we aren’t parents, schoolteachers or counselors. But I believe we are more than any of those individual caregivers: we are the Church. We are a community of love and faith and dedication, and we are intentionally intergenerational. We can care for our kids.
            As an Open & Affirming congregation, we have covenanted to enact a radical welcome to all who have experienced “second class” humanity—including children and youth. But what does that mean for us, and how can we live into it to be partners against the hurtfulness of society?
            Each and every member of Plymouth has covenanted with each and every baptized child’s parent to “accept…responsibility as vehicles of grace to guide them by word and example into the fullest life of which you and they are capable,” and then we pray together: “May they develop trustful and responsible relationships with others and may they grow in their acceptance of themselves as unique and vital persons.” Practically speaking, how do we live into this promise that we—older and younger, parent and “extended faith family”—have made to our kids and youth?
            By living our love for them in word and action. That looks like children’s Bibles in the pews and activities for them to read and color during worship so they can be with us, among us in all their squirming, crying, or bored energy! They are a part of our worshipping community. And it goes further than their presence (seen, but…)—it includes their participation in the passing of the peace and the prayers of the people. It’s their inclusion as ushers and liturgists and special music. But even more significant, it is our participation in their lives, not just their participation in our life!
            It means saying YES when asked to give 3 hours (1 hour each over 3 Sundays) to share the gift of your love for them in a Sunday School Workshop—by dressing up as Abraham and anointing their foreheads with oil to show how very special each one is, or by baking hamantaschen with them while teaching the story of Esther’s choice to use her power to help people and Haman’s choice to use his power to make himself look better and to hurt others! It means saying YES when another adult is needed for a middle school event. It means knowing their names and chatting with them over coffee hour cookies—no matter how many they’ve grabbed from the plate. What a perfect opportunity to talk about your mutual love for Oreos! It’s your presence in their lives that reveals God’s love through you and this community.
            Every adult in this congregation has a commitment to every child and teen present, to help him know he is special and loved. To let her know she is not just the “future of the church,” but a vital part of it now. YES! I am passionate about our youth and kids and their spiritual lives. Jesus himself said, “let them come to me, and do not hinder them.” You never know which teen with 10 cookies has been bullied and needs to be seen as a whole, beloved person.  You never know which kid in the pew next to you has been bullying others on the school bus and also needs to be seen as a whole, beloved person. Your presence and revelation of God’s love matters to them—it matters to all our kids.
            In passionate love for this purple promise,
                         Rev. Pink Dragon

Friday, October 15, 2010


Friday Five: Connecting

RGBP's Jan writes: I am currently reading Bowling Alone by 
Robert D. Putnam, where he explores the changes in community 
in the USA in the 20th Century. He explains how communities, 
people, and especially children function better when they live 
where there is high social capital. Basically, it means that 
"relationships matter."

We all know this because Christianity (and other religions) 
emphasize the Golden RuleAll things whatsoever ye would 
that men should do to you, do ye so to them; for this is the law 
and the prophets. Matthew 7:1

So here are some questions to ponder for this Friday Five about 
connecting with:

1. Self: Who was your hero/heroine when you were about 
ten years old? My ministers have always been heroes to me. 
I'd look up to each of them in a different way (I can't recall who was the 
minister at that particular time). A close second was probably Madonna 

2. Family: Who are you most like? Who is most like you?
Yesterday I was leading a Q&A following a presentation, and I heard 
myself use a phrase that'd never before come from my mouth except 
to tease my father for starting every explanation with it: 
"Well, I'll tell ya...". I had to call and tell him of my slip :). Having said 
that, I acknowledge that my mother and I are most alike--my partner 
tells me I sound more and more like her each day. We're also 
*extremely* different!
3. Friends: How do you stay in touch? I wish I were better at staying 
in touch! My m.o. is to not talk for way too long, then get together a 
couple times each year to catch up. Every once in a while we'll email 
or send a letter, but otherwise... :(
4. Neighborhood, community: What are ways you like to be 
involved? Cafés!! I love to to be present in gathering places 
where people meet and connect and move on into their days. 
Especially places where I can become a regular (Norm!) and 
always see new people.

5. Job/church: Do you see a need that will help in developing 
connections? Deep, long-lasting spiritual practices would be a 
great addition. I'd love to help people create community around 
particular styles of prayer, meditation, reading, etc. We do a little bit, 
and the opportunities are growing. Helping people recognize their 
need for these connections--that's my challenge!

Bonus link: Cheers Theme Song

Friday, October 8, 2010

A Fall Word Association Friday Five

A Fall Word Association Friday Five

(SingingOwl says...) Hello
everyone! The Canadian
geese are excited, forming
up and practicing,
encouraging each other with
honking, the Wisconsin
fall color is at peak where I
am, and in Kohl's Dept.
Store the Christmas
decorations are up. Yep,
Fall is here. It's my
turn to do the Rev Gal Blog Pals
Friday Five. It has been a while
since we did one of these word association Friday FIves, so here goes,
with an autumnal theme. I know, fall is one way on this side of the world
and different in other places, but please bear with me as I post words
that say FALL--at least where I am.

Give us the the first word that comes to mind (you know how that works, right?)
and then add a little something about why, or how or what.
Well, it seems my answers are all typical.... oh well!

1. Pumpkins - gooey (of course, because sticking your hand inside when carving a jack-o-lantern! I can never decide if I love the feeling or hate it... until it has dried on my fingers---uck!)

2. Campfire - smell (as in the wonderful smell of woodsmoke -- today would be a perfect campfire day)

3. Apples - crunch (yum!)

4. Color - orange (even though I live in Colorado where the Aspen all turn yellow, the only color for the season is orange... pumpkins & halloween)

5. Halloween - costumes (mostly of the headless, goblin-y, blood-sucking sort... fairy princesses never seemed right for the holiday)
And since it is REV Gals and their Pals, here is the bonus question, sort of a serious one:

What does the following passage from Daniel 2 make you think about?

"Praise be to the name of God for ever and ever;
Wisdom and power are his...
He changes times and seasons."

My first thought upon reading this was to recall the familiar passage from Ecclesiastes: to everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven. Some wisdom that I always need to remember. 

Thanks for a great F5!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Praying Twice

Friday Five: We Who Sing Pray Twice

Mary Beth at RGBP shares: Music is a part of the human experience, and part of religious traditions the world over. It is evocative and stirring, and many forms of worship are incomplete without it.

Our title comes from a quote popularly attributed to St. Augustine: "He who sings prays twice." A little Googling, however, indicates that Augustine didn't say exactly that. In fact, what he said just doesn't fit well onto a t-shirt. So we'll stick with what we have.

"Singing reduces stress and increases healthy breathing and emotional expression. Singing taps into a deep, age-old power available to all of us. When we find our voice, we find ourselves. Today, sing like you mean it." And let's talk about the role music plays in your life and worship.

1) Do you like to sing/listen to others sing? In worship, or on your own (or not at all?) Singing is life. Okay, that may be a bit strong - but when I'm happy, when I'm miserable, when I'm pissed off singing gets me through. I'm no great voice, but I have to sing. Listening to music doesn't do it for me - even music without words, I have to sing along to!
2) Did you grow up with music in worship, or come to it later in life? Tell us about it, and how that has changed in your experience. Hymns were and continue to be holy for me. Being a word person, theologically astute lyrics mean a lot, so that has changed since childhood. Poetic and "smart" lyrics also factor big in my appreciation.
3) Some people find worship incomplete without music; others would just as soon not have it. Where do you fall? MUST SING - music is great and a perfect means of setting a theme through sound, so I experience it as necessary to worship - but if I can't sing, too, it often feels superfluous (NOT to many of my church members, though!).
4) Do you prefer traditional music in worship, or contemporary? That can mean many different things! I prefer hymns, and I enjoy some Taizé and other chanted music (which I consider contemporary); I love when the choir bursts out with classical texts, but again, I want to at least hum (badly) along. 
5) What's your go-to music ... when you need solace or want to express joy? A video/recording will garner bonus points! Indigo Girls are always my go-to music (as I've expressed here numerous times); but lately, Brandi Carlisle and Pink feed my own "bursting" side. 
I keep trying to reconcile "why one form of music in one setting, and another form in a different setting?" (the question people ask as they argue for rock, etc in worship)... but I think I NEED both! And I don't use hymns in my everyday, because, for me, they are communal, corporate, only among my faith family - and they travel with me from one faith community to another, so that I can often find "home" wherever I may go. THANKS FOR A GREAT F5!!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Wine Tasting

Wine Tasting
A local elder grins as he toasts
our visit to the coast: “You can come
golfing with us tomorrow!” I think,
not even mini-golf and toss back
his grandfatherly attempts at flirting.

She lifts her glass to mine
as we smile ten years’ worth of
veterinary visits, cross country moves
and intermittent therapy.
Here’s to us in paradise.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Telephones Suck

Telephones Suck

I could call.
But you know, calling ought to
mean, “Meet me at Café Ardour”
or “wanna make me that dynamite
chana masala? I’ll bring the Pinot Gris.”

I would call.
But how can I distill my
latest adventure into sentences
with periods? How can you study
my face and inquire, “why that wrinkle?”

I should call.
But how many times
have we scolded, “Don’t
should!” So you would expect
nothing more or less of me—me.

I won’t call.
But I will let you (and the world)
know how much I miss you
and wish you 
were here.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Atlantic City, NJ

It's been great toodling around NJ/PA this past week as a renewal aspect of sabbatical. I've reconnected with long-time friends and particularly with family. 

The past few days Mom and I have been relaxing together at the ocean in Atlantic City. Yes, we tried to gamble... but the machines no longer take anything less than a $5 bill :).
Here is the lucky nickel I offered up to Mr. Trump:

And when we gave up on gambling, Mom and I sat and talked 
(about sex, religion, politics, family - all the easy topics) 
over a drink on the beach. 

Here's to enjoying the Jersey Shore once more!
It really has been renewing.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Hooray for Buckle Shoes!

Can you remember getting new shoes as a child? It happened more often in those days, as our young feet kept growing (mine have remained the same size for some time now – which brings both relief and a twinge of regret).

I clearly remember the sorrow I felt on the day when “buckle shoes” no longer came in the size of my continually growing feet. It may have been heading into Easter, when a new dress and new shoes were imminent, and Mom had to inform me, “big girls don’t wear buckle shoes.” *gasp* (tears ensued).

Well, heading into middle age, I feel thoroughly joyful that I can again feel the giddiness of slipping on a pair of mary janes… in a much better variety of styles and colors than when I was 8! 
Hooray for buckle shoes!!

Friday, May 7, 2010

Faith & Politics Friday Five

Faith & Politics
        It's been a while since I've played, but here goes...
Over at RGBP, Sally writes: Well it may or may not have escaped the notice of many that over in the UK we have been awaiting the results of the General Election.... it has been the most closely fought election for many years, and the result... a hung or balanced Parliament, with no outright winner... and it has got everybody talking...

So what do you think about the mix of faith and politics:

1. Jesus a political figure: discuss...
Without a doubt – by intention or not, he engaged people in a faith that lived among, responded to and, yes, fought against the political agendas of his day.
2. Politics in the pulpit, yes or no and why?
Yes (not all the time), when used in direct relation to a theological concern, and with discernment and acknowledgement that there will be members of the congregation who disagree, and the humility that we may not always be right… even if we believe we are at the moment.
3.What are your thoughts on the place of prayer in public life…
To each her own. I pray, but I don’t need to do it where others will hear me. And yet, I will happily pray aloud in public when a situation calls for it. I still cannot pretend to know how to engage the unique differences of individuals’ styles of prayer in public forum – I would not wish to be subjected to some others’ prayers. Great question; will have to ponder more…
4.Is there a political figure, Christian or otherwise that you admire for their integrity?
Karen Armstrong jumps to mind. Have you all seen her Charter for Compassion? And Joan Chittister never ceases to amaze me.
5.I’m skipping #5 and going right for the bonus (just can’t think about it today)
Bonus- is there a song which might sum this all up?
Sticks and stones
battle zones
a single light bulb on a single thread for the black
sirens wail
history fails
rose-colored glass begins to age and crack
while the politicians shadowbox the power ring
in an endless split decision never solve anything
from a neighbor's distant land
i heard the strain of the common man
let it be me (this is not a fighting song)
let it be me (not a wrong for a wrong)
let it be me, if the world is night
shine my life like a light

well the world seems spent
and the president has no good idea of who the masses are
well i'm one of them and
i'm among friends
trying to see beyond the fences of our own backyard
i've seen kingdoms blow like ashes in the winds of change
but the power
of truth is the fuel for the flame
so the darker the ages get
there's a stronger beacon yet
let it be me (this is not a fighting song)
let it be me (not a wrong for a wrong)
let it be me, if the world is night
shine my life like a light

in the kind word you speak
in the turn of the cheek
when your vision stays clear in the face of your fear
then you see turning off a light switch is their only power
when we stand like spotlights in a mighty tower
all for one and one for all
then we sing the common call
let it be me (this is not a fighting song)
let it be me (not a wrong for a wrong)
let it be me,
if the world is night shine my life like a light

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

A Minister Challenges God (On a Bad Day)

I wrote this as I prepare for Jamie's ordination this coming Sunday. One of the texts she has chosen is Mark  10:35-45 -- when Jesus states, "if you will be great, you must be servant of all." 
A Minister Challenges God 
(On a Bad Day)

You have dragged me to this hell
called your Church.
What a joke!
The servants abuse and misuse.
Their humility is suspect (I should know).
Ego rules rather than
your words - The Word! - and "if you will be great
you must be servant of all."
Servant to this pigtailed little girl
with cookie crumbs on her chin
and Sunday School glitter littering the carpet?
Servant to the incomprehensible schizophrenic
jabbering conspiracy this close
to my nose?
Servant to the adolescent
eyerolling and impudent
sniggering behind my robed back?
Not me!
I have been called.
I have been set apart.

Friday, April 16, 2010

The Language of God

Some people wonder how I can be a part of the Christian tradition.
Some people wonder how I am allowed to be a minister within the
United Church of Christ.
Well, here is an answer to both of those questions:
The Language of God is 
compassion, love, justice, and praise 
view the Language of God
as imaged by the UCC

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Peter and the Risen Christ

John 21:1-19

Does he not desire
Does he not believe in
Not for himself.
He has returned to the sea –
the familiar,
unpredictable waves and
fickle fish.
“I am not a
fisher of the human soul!
I cannot even keep my own intact.”
He mourns.

And he tries to
his failures.
So many

From the bright
of the call, “Come;
follow me”
to the assurance, “You are  Petros – the rock!”
he actually thought he could be more than a
with empty nets.

Yet here to Galilee
he has returned…
and his nets are,
once again,

Flying through the waves
onto the beach,
he begs no
forgiveness at all – do you notice? –
he makes no excuses for himself, though he knows he has

Yet he
breakfasts with the Risen One.
Fish that never touched his net steam over a
And Jesus speaks of love. Simple, right?
Never once does he mention
denial. So Peter (still in denial?),
earnest and
his love.

Friday, April 2, 2010

The Adventures of Coffee Cat (for KT)

Holy Week.
It's been a rough week (I know, I know, it was rougher for Jesus), so I decided to take myself on an un-holy, lazy afternoon with Coffee Cat.
Here is what we did.

We headed out...

 to find some caffeine at the usual places...
but sadly, Plymouth only had decaf shots! So we continued our search...
and first passed by Starbucks (too corporate for a wandering day like today)...
then Cups (because Kendra wasn't there)...

and we settled in at Cuppy's (where I'd never been before!). After hanging out for a while, Coffee Cat was wired...
so we went to work off the caffeine at Rolland Moore Park. Coffee Cat exhausted himself...
so he slipped into his cat carrier. I had errands to run...
which Coffee Cat didn't mind sharing...
and he even brought a catnip treat home to share. 

It was a good day. 

Monday, March 29, 2010


A Depression Lifted

Hear Persephone’s birds
piping her joy
at having returned to
play in the sun.
Caressing each blade
of grass she bestows
more intimacy than
Hades ever knew in
his death’s dominion.
What new hell he may
devise come autumn
is far, far from her
springing thoughts.

Image: Persephone's Summer Vacation by Think Tank Creative

Friday, March 26, 2010

Friday Five: Redo, Refresh, Restore

over at RGBP, Songbird shared…
We're in the thick of it in church life as we approach the end of Lent. Palm Sunday and Holy Week await. In the midst of this busy-ness, I undertook a little redecorating here at RevGalBlogPals and found a new template for us.

It's the sort of task I like in the middle of chaos, a chance to redo something, to refresh the way I feel, to restore some sense of order. Please share with us five ways you redo or refresh or restore your body, your space, your blog, anything in your life that needs perking up this week.

1. When I’m feeling chaotic at work, I like to redo the bulletin boards in our fellowship hall. Tearing down old notices and the background paper; bordering and ordering – it leaves me with a visual sense of accomplishment and an aesthetic appreciation for color and composition (in other words: less chaos!).

2. There is nothing nothing nothing like a hot bath to renew my body - winter or summer.

3. Going for a drive completely refreshes my mind. I put on loud music and sing along at the top of my voice. It releases everything that has collected inside me.

4. Write. Again, it renews my spirit by erasing all that is within and getting it on paper. Sometimes it’s beautiful, and sometimes it simply needs to be tossed into the trash. But I’m renewed.

5. Sit in the sunshine. This should probably be my number 1. I often follow my 2 cats around – as they can find the sunniest spots in the house – and then kick them out of the tiniest patch of light. Or I’ll wait for a window seat at the coffee shop. Or head into my boss’s office where the light is best. Anything to soak it in.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Just Because...

Apropos of nothing, I am posting this GREAT picture by my dear friend Kendra.

Maybe I like the raindrops.
Maybe I miss her.
Maybe I want a beer.
Maybe a cave sounds good.
Who can discern the random workings of my brain!