Tuesday, July 31, 2007
Let's say, hypothetically, that you were to schedule a meeting for a Wednesday morning. And then, hypothetically, you had to cancel the same meeting because Wednesday mornings are not good for most of the individuals you would like to be in attendance. What would you do next? Would you:
Monday, July 30, 2007
As the clock neared 5:00 this afternoon, a member of the maintenance staff at Big Church ushered a young woman into my office. In her late teens or early 20s and VERY pregnant, she sat across from me and told me the usual story -- from out-of-town, here for a doctor's appointment, no bank account, no driver's license, no one to call for help -- and she needed money for gasoline to get her home. Big Church's policy is to direct folks in this situation to a local clearinghouse organization for assistance. Big Church donates a significant amount to this organization and I trust that they can 'triage' these sorts of situations with finesse and experience. They can also recognize individuals who are frequent fliers of these crises. So I gave her the handout with phone numbers, addresses, and directions. She declined my offer of a prayer. No matter the reason behind her request, it must stink to be many months pregnant and traveling around in the late July heat, asking for money.
Sunday, July 29, 2007
Ten years ago, while living in a small apartment in Tucson, I discovered the joys of eBay. Since I lived in a complex with only 20 apartments, any packages delivered by UPS went to my landlord's apartment. He and his wife found it baffling that I would buy and sell my beloved Fiestaware via the "information superhighway" (he never said Internet). He often expressed concern that I would get "ripped off" by someone on eBay, because "How did I know there were even real people out there on the information superhighway?" When a package would arrive, I would often open the box in his apartment, and he and his wife would marvel that my treasure made it all the way from Maine or Georgia and was more or less "as advertised".
(On an unrelated note, this landlord's adored chihuahua 'Deeohgee' died from lung cancer -- acquired from his owners -- so beware of secondhand smoke).
A few months ago, GGF experienced being "flamed" on the information superhighway for the first time. Her mesmerizing husband and I, both experienced online conversationalists, laughed a little at her surprise. "How can these people really care what I say?" The Internet is not real life, right?
I have participated in forums for adoptive parents, adult adoptees, natural mothers and others involved in the adoption community for almost five years now. It still amazes me how my feelings can get hurt by the comments of someone I've never met. I often tell my husband about some blog fight or disagreement that broke out in one of these communities. Is this real life?
Another online community where I have happily participated for almost a year had a big brouhaha a couple of weeks ago. Out of town and on vacation, I missed most of the action. I think I've pieced together most of what happened by reading related posts. The HoS at Big Church preached from James 2 this morning -- about Christ's radical hospitality. And this Blog scandal came to mind while hearing him preach the sermon for the third time in one morning. It surprised me that an online community, not my family or congregation, is what came to mind while pondering James's reflections on the gospel.
I came home and had the Sunday Afternoon Nap of Death. I still feel groggy. Sorry if this post doesn't make much sense. If you know me in IRL, you know that is pretty much par for the course.
Saturday, July 28, 2007
Friday, July 27, 2007
GGF sent me an email yesterday that concluded with the line: "Isn't God a trickster for good?"
Yeah. God is a trickster for good. The wiki definition of 'trickster' includes this passage:
"Many native traditions held clowns and tricksters as essential to any contact with the sacred. People could not pray until they had laughed, because laughter opens and frees from rigid preconception. Humans had to have tricksters within the most sacred ceremonies for fear that they forget the sacred comes through upset, reversal, surprise. The trickster in most native traditions is essential to creation, to birth".It continues to amaze me that, despite our tendencies to form unholy alliances and nurse our own wounds, God acts by freeing us from our preconceptions and rigid definitions of what is 'right'.
Rene Girard once wrote,"Comically as well as tragically, human beings keep turning each other into obstacles to the fulfillment of the very passions they keep transmitting mimetically to one another. This is why peaceful relations among neighbors are rare." Sometimes we are filled with the powerful, life-giving Spirit in such a way that we able to leap such obstacles in a single bound, and look past the veil and see the coming Kingdom. God is funny that way.
My favorite superhero as a child was, not surprisingly, Wonder Woman. I had a life-size cut out of WW on the wall of my bedroom. I have read that WW represents the Greek goddess Diana. As a Christian, I am more interested in her 'Lasso of Truth'. God is a trickster, alright. It is amazing how we can follow that scary path of truth-telling into situations of relief and freedom.
Dear God, Help us to use the gifts you have given us for good and not for evil. Thank you for helping us to trust your power and your wisdom and your truth. Amen.
Thursday, July 26, 2007
It has been an exciting week around here.
Tuesday, July 24, 2007
"Psychic-ophile". That is not a real word, I know. What would the word be for someone who truly believes in ESP? Not that they have this gift, but someone who believes others have this gift...
Church Person #3 is someone who believes that their pastor can read minds. This person does not believe in communication via email, telephone or postal service. This person thinks that their pastor can hear their thoughts from miles away. This person doesn't need to let their pastor know when something big is happening in their life, because they know the pastor will just intuit these things.
Sorry, my crystal ball is in the shop this week. You can just spell things out for me. S-L-O-W-L-Y.
Yes, I had a bit of a frustrating day...
Monday, July 23, 2007
This is part 2 in my series about church member archetypes.
Today I got to thinking about those individuals who attend every event sponsored by the church. They go to memorial services for everyone who dies; they don't want the family of the deceased to feel bad about low attendance. They go to every special concert and worship service. Whenever you look out into the congregation from the pulpit, this person is smiling up at you from the pews.
What I like about this personality is how steady this person can be. This person knows that 90% of things are just about showing up. This person understands the power of quiet prayer and support. This personality is often prodigious at sending cards for every occasion. They remember each child's birthday, each couple's wedding anniversary, and all graduation dates. Their particular witness comes from literally witnessing the accomplishments and important moments that occur within the body of Christ.
Sunday, July 22, 2007
Yesterday afternoon my family shared a wonderful meal with some old friends and their two kids. This couple is very special to us. Brett knows the husband from many years back, when they went through an end-of-missionary-service 'debriefing' through our denomination. We went to seminary with him a few years later. His wife is the daughter of a seminary professor we both loved. We attended each others' weddings. We went out to eat countless times. We dressed up as a four-piece rock band for Halloween a number of years ago. It was simultaneously odd to be with them, as we have not seen them 'in person' in a number of years, and also utterly normal to hear about their day-to-day lives. It was such a blessing, and the grace of being with them has extended into my Sunday thoughts.
When Brett and I graduated from seminary, we served as co-pastors of a small congregation in a town that had once been divided in two by the American Civil War. Half the town was Confederate; half was Union. There were even two Presbyterian churches, one for each side. It took fifty years past the Emancipation Proclamation for the First Presbyterian folks to agree to merge with the Second Presbyterian crowd. United Presbyterian was united in name only. We struggled with the ancient dysfunctions of this congregation for two years. We didn't know what we were doing and our weaknesses made us vulnerable. I have never felt so distant from myself as I did in that place.
As a consolation, we often treated ourselves to outings in town and meals in the many lovely restaurants that can be found in the city which is home to the 'Vatican on the Ohio'. One place in particular, though not the culinary jewel my beloved normally prefers, was the site of numerous special occasions. It was the last place we ate out with a special mentor who continues to succumb to a chronic, fatal condition. We ate there the night we heard that our adoption of Thomas was finally approved by the Guatemalan government. It seems an odd location to be what the Celts call a 'thin place' -- where the holiest event is the annual Ugly Lamp contest -- but I know God has been present for me there.
We once went to a little hippie, vegetarian restaurant in Austin, TX with these dear friends. I ate at that restaurant dozens of times and never once had a satisfying meal. We often ordered carafes of cheap wine to mask the virtuous, flavorless dishes. Also, the customer service in this bastion of liberal guilt also sucked, big time. Once the waiter even slammed our wine glasses on the table and said, "Here are these mo-fos". Direct quote. It didn't make any sense for him to say that, but Brett and I regularly relive his delicate statement when we encounter something unexpected or unexplained. Mo-fos indeed.
The best thing about our meal yesterday was also the most frustrating thing. What once would have been a table for four was now a table for eight, including two highchairs. No one got to eat very much and our youngest even fell asleep at the table. It was great to be a large group. We left a huge mess for the bus boys to clean up.
There is not much of a point to this post, except to say that I feel very happy right now. We are not striving for much. We are just taking things as they come.
I've uploaded some photos from our trip to Ohio. My aunt and uncle have a 200+ acre "farm" (a.k.a. retirement property; no actual farming involved) that is a beautiful, relaxing spot for a long weekend visit. We arrived Wednesday evening and began driving home on Saturday morning. My family always has good food, plenty of wine and coffee, and plenty of embellished stories to share. It is fun to hang out with the whole crew.
We are home from a whirlwind vacation. We had a great time! I will tell a couple of good stories later.
The best news?? Waiting in the mail when we got home -- letters from USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services) for the kids... appointments with immigration officers on AUGUST 22! Yay! That is only a month away, and less than 2 months from the date of the original applications for their Certificates of Citizenship. I am unsure if the actual certificates will be issued at the appointments, but I am hopeful.
I'm off to church. I hope everyone has a blessed Sunday.
Tuesday, July 17, 2007
Saturday, July 14, 2007
- My folks are in town -- they flew in from AZ on Thursday afternoon. My kids are overjoyed to have Nana and Bumpa here!
- VBS was GREAT! G-R-E-A-T-B-I-B-L-E! Great Bible Reef! God's people care!
I love Bible school... but it makes for a long week. :)
- My installation service at Big Church is tomorrow afternoon. The preacher is going to be spectacular, I am certain.
- I am going to work Monday and Tuesday, then take a couple of vacation days at the end of the week. Looking forward to a tiny break. The last three months have been great, but exhausting (see my VBS comment).
- I have not read any Harry Potter, but my husband has listened to all the books on tape while he exercises. I hope the latest book is released on tape fairly quickly. I am all for literature that support reading and encourages kids and their parents to enjoy the same books!
- Please say a little prayer -- we have a possible exciting opportunity on the horizon around here.
- We are off to Tom's t-ball game in a few minutes... have a wonderful Saturday!
Wednesday, July 11, 2007
Bet she rocks at Pastoral Care!
Tori Spelling is now available for weddings. "Yep, that's right. ... Reverend Tori Spelling! I did it last week online and my official certificate is in the mail. I'm so
proud," the 34-year-old actress said in a posting Monday on the MySpace.com site she shares with her husband, Dean McDermott. Spelling officiated at a same-sex union last weekend at Chateau La Rue, the bed-and-breakfast that she and McDermott run in Fallbrook, Calif., on their Oxygen network unscripted series, "Tori & Dean: Inn Love," her spokeswoman, Meghan Prophet, said Tuesday. "I was so honored when the couple asked me to officiate. We did it on the front steps of the Chateau as 40 of their friends looked on seated in a loungelike atmosphere," Spelling wrote. Spelling and McDermott, who were married in May 2006, will reprise their innkeeper duties for the show's second season, which premieres Aug. 14. "It was so beautiful as I united Tony and Dex as life partners in love. They wrote their own beautiful vows and there was so much love surrounding them that there wasn't a dry eye in the driveway!" wrote Spelling, adding that she was "beyond nervous." "I've done live theater and presented at the Emmys and this by far was my scariest moment simply because they had bestowed such an honor upon me and I didn'twant to let them down."
Spelling and McDermott took their 4-month-old son, Liam, out for a spin on the dance floor at the wedding reception. "The three of us swayed and smiled to Madonna," she said. "It was a magical evening of pure love." Spelling starred on the long-running '90s TV series "Beverly Hills, 90210," produced by her father, Aaron Spelling, who died in June 2006.
Monday, July 09, 2007
I received a voicemail letting me know that Little Church on the Desert officially called their new pastor yesterday. Yay! It was very hard for me to leave my interim position at Little Church before they had discerned who God was calling to be their new pastor. I am glad that it only took them a couple of months after I left to find the right person to lead their congregation. The new pastor will move from Indiana to Arizona in just a few weeks and start serving at Little Church in August. Please say a prayer that this is a good match and a fruitful ministry.
Saturday, July 07, 2007
We received a receipt from the Department of Homeland Security that they did get our applications. At least I know they have them.
- GGF (Good, Good Friend) and her Mesmerizing Husband (MH) arrived late, late on Tuesday night.
- 4th of July -- MH and Brett purchased and installed an air conditioner for our enclosed porch (GGF says it is a 'solarium' -- which sounds very fancy to me.)
- We barbecued and played with the kids until late in the evening. After the kids were asleep, GGF and I were the audience of a private fireworks blowout orchestrated by Brett and MH. I cannot get over how professional this fireworks display was (okay, not professional in any way). But the image of these two goofy guys dancing in the driveway to the strobe-lightish effect of the firecrackers is quite memorable. Also, MH singing "Ring of Fire" in a basso profundo is always a treat.
- Thursday we went to the Botanical Garden. (My Arkie husband pronounces this word as BOW-tanical (like a rain-BOW), while I think one should say BUH-tanical. Whatever). It was a hot and sticky morning, but the gardens looked gorgeous. A member of Big Church bought us a family membership to the garden, which is an awesome gift.
- Thursday afternoon and evening we divided our activities along gender lines. The boys ran special birthday errands and then went to see a Farm Team baseball game. The girls went -- where else? -- SHOPPING! I got my ears double pierced so I can wear the diamond studs my parents gave me for by birthday. GGF bought some clothes at the GAP -- an accomplishment for someone who has not shopped in a retail clothing establishment for decades. Lily entertained us in a restaurant by eating sugar packets -- paper and all.
- Friday was Thomas's Patriotic Picnic and the Preschool of Big Church. For a child who sang "You're a Grand Old Flag" at every opportunity for the last week, he was surprisingly mum during the pre-picnic performance. He did make a number of sweeping bows at the end of the songs sung by the other children. I cannot imagine a better way to spend my birthday lunch than eating hot dogs and potato chips at the preschool.
- Friday afternoon Brett and MH designed a luau-themed birthday party for me. We even had a pinata! My cake was a delicious white cake with key lime filling. Yum. I receiving so many lovely gifts -- an emerald and diamond ring from DH, some books, jewelry and other goodies from GGF and MH, a *darling* bone china cup an saucer from my friend Gail, a check from my husband's stepfather, many hilarious cards, the new Wilco album from my kids -- I am so spoiled.
- Finally, the daughter of the DCE at Big Church came to babysit last night so the four adults could go out. We ate at a great Italian place on the Hill in St. Louis. We went for coffee in restaurant that used to be a bank -- we sat in the old vault and imagined what treasures were once contained in the deposit boxes. I walked so far in my high heels that GGF and I sat on the curb while the boys walked to the car and drove back to pick us up. A fun night is when your feet give out before you do.
Ten years ago, my life seemed headed in a different, possibly more ordinary direction. I did not predict this husband, these children, this home, this (or maybe ANY) church ministry. My life is an odd one and I love that. Now I am ready for a little nap. Being 30 is exhausting!
Tuesday, July 03, 2007
When I was a preteen, my favorite birthday activity was to invite a girlfriend to spend the night and then go on some fun outing -- often it was to see the Ringling Brothers circus. On the cusp of my 30s, I am looking forward to a similar activity -- Good Good Friend and her Mesmerizing Husband are winging the way across the country as I type, to spend a few days with us and to celebrate my birthday on Friday. Yay! I am so excited to see them!
Monday, July 02, 2007
The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services office in St. Louis received our N-600s at 8:49 this morning. The N-600s are applications, along with 100+ pages of paperwork, required by the Department of Homeland Security to issue Certificates of Citizenship to our Guatemalan-born, adopted children. The Certificates of Citizenship do not confer citizenship -- they became citizens on their adoption dates -- but the C of C proves citizenship. Unlike a U.S. passport, which expires, a C of C never expires. We paid $215 x 2 kids to file the N-600, plus $9 x 2 kids for the photos for the applications, plus $7 in postage, which = $455. How long will we wait for our government to process these forms. I have heard it can take up to 18 months... though the USCIS claims only 3 months for the St. Louis office. We shall see. Say a little prayer that some nice bureaucrat processes our applications quickly!
Brett came over to church this morning and helped me run a couple of errands around town. Then we went to the local hipster coffee house for a sandwich. The weather today has been gorgeous -- in the low 80s, breezy with little humidity. We sat out on the patio to eat. It is a fairly large patio and only one other table was occupied. A young, 20-something male and a couple (man and woman) who appeared to be in their late 30s/early 40s. The younger man dominated the conversation; he yelled all his words in a declarative manner. He presented himself as some sort of film director. It was slightly embarrassing to hear. As much as Brett and I tried to have our own conversation, phrases like "Peter Jackson -- Lord of the Rings -- Psychological Thriller -- Personal Artistry" kept bombarding our region of the patio.
My husband calls people like this "slow walkers". People who are out of step with the rest of society. Some people announce their status as slow walkers by, well, walking slowing in public. You know, that kind of aimless shuffle that seems like it should belong to someone elderly, but actually happens with someone young, yet odd. This young, shouting director was a slow walker, too. Maybe some sort of chemical impairment hampers his ability to determine an acceptable volume of speech in a public space. My dear GGF had a slow walker make himself painfully known during a church service yesterday, by insisting on speaking a long rant during the liturgy. She said a few people even stood up and left. He is a retired member of the denomination. Egads.
Those who do not "fit in", behavior-wise, are hard to assimilate. I wonder about the couple listening to this young man pontificate this afternoon. What kind of relationship made them his captive audience? Does the young man have any idea that he seemed so ridiculous? Has this behavior been obvious since childhood, or is this behavior new?
Who knows -- maybe he *is* a famous Hollywood director and I missed my chance for an autograph.