Sunday, April 30, 2006

yes i did

post two new sermons at the sermon site. one for today and one for easter (yes, that one is a little late.)

and i have updated the discipleship blog too.

i actaully got something accomplished while on vacation and continuing education!

and even better... i have finally edited three palm sunday services for publication. they are currently printed out, attached to a cover letter, in a manilla envelope, which is addressed to the publisher, and waiting for me to take them to the post office to be mailed out tomorrow.

woo hoo!

God's peace y'all

Friday, April 28, 2006

things that feed my soul

in no particular order...

rock and roll blaring on the radio with the windows rolled all the way down

sitting down for a big family dinner

feeling hubby's skin next to mine

discovering i fed someone else' soul without realizing i was doing it

holding a new born baby

the smell of the ocean after a storm

getting a pedicure

kissing my children's cheeks while they are asleep

laughing with a friend until my stomach hurts

having nothing to do but read a really good book

being on family vacation in the outerbanks and watching the sunset

God's peace y'all (yeah, that too.)

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

well, yes and no

blogzie had this on her blog and i said i would have to take the test myself. so here it is... and my thoughts on the results.

You are a Believer

You believe in God and your chosen religion.
Whether you're Christian, Muslim, Jewish, or Hindu..
Your convictions are strong and unwavering.
You think your religion is the one true way, for everyone.

ok, i am a believer in God and my "chosen" faith. though i have issue with the word chosen simply because it was the faith in which i was raised and i often say that God chose it for me... not the other way around. it's like the phrase: "i found jesus!" you mean he was lost?

my convictions are strong. yep. and while i'm open to other opinions i can be pretty stubborn (i'm a red-head and an aries and sometimes the steroetypes fit.)

unwavering?.. i'd say i was 49% atheist (a quote that i love from a preacher named franklin fry) doubt doesn't bother me. well, it bothers me when i'm feeling it, but i'm not afraid of doubt happening in my life. doubt is not the anthesis of faith in my opinion, but a part of it.

the one true way... well, yes. i believe in what scripture says that jesus is the way, the truth, and the light. i believe that jesus is the way to the father and to salvation, but "for everyone?"

i have a hard time with the idea that i am right and anyone who believes differently is wrong. and perhaps it's the fallacy with the test... it didn't ask the right questions, or allow me to give the answers i do feel about God and religion.

in my last post about lead a few non-christians offered me prayers in the comments. do i think God won't hear them or that they are null and void because they are wrong in what they believe? oh no.

ultimately, jesus does it for me in the here and now. i'm not so concerned with heaven. (i could be wrong, and i could be right... but i won't know until i get there.) faith, for me, is about how i live now and how that faith affects me until i die. i believe that God has made promises to me about eternal life and i trust God. fact is, even if i knew for sure there isn't a heaven i would still believe in jesus.

but jesus doesn't do it for everyone as one of my pagan friends reminds me and i'm cool with that despite the fact that i am in love with jesus and wish others felt the same way i do about him.

and there you have it.

God's peace y'all

Monday, April 24, 2006

yale lead

back when the whole debacle with the silent prince's lead poisoning began the pediatrician decided against us going to the lead clinic at yale new haven. since he was our doctor we trusted that we were getting the best care.

now, with a new pediatrician, we realize that we weren't.

we visited the lead clinic yesterday for the third time and were amazed by the level of care we received. first, we had wanted the prince to see a developmental pediatrician and have an appointment with one in hartford next february. (yes, february 2007). when i first started talking to judy at the lead clinic she suggested that we could see their developmental psychologist and gave me the number. i made an attempt to call and ask for an appointment.

yesterday she noticed that the prince was on the schedule for the lead clinic and showed up for the appointment so that she could meet us in person and schedule an appointment with us for next week. and since she knows lead and development... we feel pretty confident about having her do the evaluations which hopefully will tell us more about who our son is.

the second thing about the lead clinic is that we always meet with several people. we had a toxicologist (2 actually) stick their heads in to check on us, a social worker, and the nurse practicioner. it makes hubby nervous; why are all these people paying so muc attention to our son? i think we aren't used to having so many people care about the prince getting well.

his lead levels are still about the same, which means no treatment for at least another two weeks.

then later we took the kids to the house, which has now been cleared by the health department!!!

the prince grabbed my hand, pulled me up the front porch steps, opened the screen door, then waited impatiently as i unlocked the door.

he stood in the foyer for a few seconds then ran up the steps, pulling me along with him. up the steps he went right to his room and ran in circles looking for his things. when it was time to leave he threw a tantrum. i wanted to go get all our things and move them in right away.

soon... very soon

God's peace y'all

Friday, April 21, 2006

i didn't do it

i hate being blamed for something i didn't do. call it a pet peeve; it isn't. i hate it.

when i was in 2nd or 3rd grade we had inside recess because it was raining. we also had a substitute. the sub took us to the bathroom and let a group of girls in the girls' room. i went in a stall and did what i needed to while the rest of the group ran around like they were in the recess yard.

as i exited the bathroom i was put in a seperate line with the rest of the girls in the group who had been misbehaving in the bathroom. when we went back to our classroom i had to stand in the back with the rest of the girls i had been with. one by one the sub called us up front and asked if there was something we wanted to say to her. i had no idea what she was talking about so i was sent back to the rear of the room to stand while the rest of the class ate their snacks and got to chit chat with one another.

i was called up again... still with nothing to say. when i went back to my spot of punishment a friend whispered to me: "she wants you to say you're sorry."

the next time i was called to the front of the class i apologized.

i said i was sorry for something i hadn't done.

there is no moment in my history (which has been filled with a multitude of mistakes) that i would relive. except this one. if given another chance i would have told her the first time that i had done nothing wrong and then i would have waited for her apology... even if it took all day.

but... i can't go back and that's probably a good thing.

it happened again today, though this time i emphatically denied what i was accused of from the get-go. the landlords, who have been fairly nice people, were outside today planting spring flowers as i was leaving to take the princess kitty to dance class.

we chit chatted about yard work and then the one landlord asked me to do him a favor... "please make sure you clean up after your dog."

i told him i always do.

he told me that other people in the apartment complex had told him that a dog, matching our dog's discription,was leaving piles in an area where the kids were playing outside. people had told him that it was our dog.

nope, not me. i always clean up, i never even take the dog over there. in fact i had noticed that someone had not been cleaning up after their dog and was upset by it. but it wasn't me.

they asked me to keep my eyes open in case i saw who it was, implying that they might believe me. (i doubt it.) the other landlord even said it might be a dog from somewhere else. but it doesn't matter. i have been blamed for something i did not do and it is driving me crazy and put me in a bad mood cancelling out the rest of what had been a good day.

i want to let it go, but i can't. i want to know who tattled on me. especially since it was made to sound as if there were multiple culprits. i want to know if they have dogs (there are a few others here.) i want to make them apologize for blaming me and then to tell the landlords that it wasn't us... that they were mistaken.

but i can't, so instead i will claim my innocence here, vent about it, get the princess kitty out of the tub, and then watch a movie.

God's peace y'all

Thursday, April 20, 2006



the silent prince turned 4 yesterday.

it was a great day. friends from jersey came down on monday and decided to stay long enough for the festivities. and then the pobble arrived yesterday morning to add her well-wishes.

we started the day with bert (one of our jersey friends), the pobble, and a member of the church, helping me put our backyard together again. it was LOADS of work, but now i have the beginnings of a great flower and herb garden.

then we returned back to the apartment (showered) and had take-out from great resturant: frankies. frankies is gourmet fast food... and it sooo good.

then the g-parents showed up for cake and ice cream. g-mom arrived and told me if i packed the prince a bag she would take him for a sleep-over, but first she gave him and the princess kitty a bath to wash off all the chocolate cake.

claud (our other jersey friend) and i went out and got some drinks and movies and once the princess kitty was asleep we watched fun with dick and jane (funny) and then hostel (gross).

we'll have another party for both kids in may, when we can have lots more family and friends show up for a big celebration back at the parsonage.

and now i am going to go enjoy this incredible day!

God's peace y'all

Monday, April 17, 2006

brown crayons

two bloggers have got me thinking about isms and so i offer this story. you should also check out their blogs... they are abb and gayprof.

years ago, while hubby and i were on internship, i was asked to be the director of a church summer program in newark, nj. now hubby and i lived in newark the year it was named the most violent city in america. we didn't live in the hood, but in the ironbound, which was predominately portugese and brazillian and most of them were illegal. it was the year we were married and hubby and i still think back on it as one of the best times of our lives.

the church was st john's and was set in the clinton hill section of newark. it was the hood. the apartment building next to the church was condemned, but still occupied, and the tenents paid their rent to a slum lord. the local governement was so corrupt that nothing ever happened.

kids from the apartments often played in the church parking lot and that's what got us thinking about starting the program that lasted 7 weeks that summer, and went all day.

we hired people from the church to help us run the program and the pastor invited two older teenaged girls from arizona to come and teach for the experience of working in the inner city.

we had 50 kids each day. some days kids we had never seen before would be sitting in a class. "where did you come from?" i'd ask. "momma told me to come with my cousin to church camp." "ok, but i will need your momma to fill out these forms if you want to come back tomorrow."

one day, somewhere in the middle of the program, my 16 year old, mother of an 18 month old daughter, teacher of the 3rd and 4th graders, was sent off to over night camp. (she returned a day later because she hated it). i took over her class and decided to teach the lesson of jesus blessing the children. we did the lesson and then i sent them to their seats to color pictures of jesus and some children.

we were a low-budget camp, so i had buckets of crayons and as the kids sat down i made my way around their tables, dumping handfuls of crayons on the tables for them to use to color their pictures. i was about half-way done when i heard, "miss cats, i need a brown crayon."

ok. i turned around, dug through my bucket and found a brown crayon for the one kid when i heard another child ask for a brown crayon and then another.

what the heck did they need with so many brown crayons? was there a tree in the picture?

and then it hit me. they needed the brown crayons for the faces of the children in the picture. i scrambled to make certian that every child had a brown or black crayon and then i sat down and pondered the whole thing.

i pondered me and my white skin and the fact that if i were coloring a picture of a child i would not need a brown crayon, or any color crayon for that matter if i wanted the chold in the picture to reflect me. i suddenly understood white priveledge in a way i never had before.

later on, after camp summer joy was over and i was back in seminary for my senior year i shared this story with one of my professors. racism, he explained, has always been defined as power plus prejudice, but really it is power plus prejudice plus priveledge.

as a side note he and another prof at seminary were the only two african american men on staff. they were also the busiest. one day, when i pointing this out to one of them, he told me "don't go there." and then we both laughed because we knew i was right.

the fact of the matter is that i am christian, white, and straight. if you don't count the fact that i'm female priveledge is my middle name.

i never have to worry about discrimination unless i choose to (or unless my lack of male genitalia somehow gets into the mix.) my best friend growing up was black. i called her and told her about the brown crayons. "i'm struggling with racism." i told her. and then i made a confession: whenever i told people stories about her i often introduced the story: "my best friend, who's black, and i..."

"why do i have to tell people that you are black? you are my friend, that's the important point of the story. is this white guilt?"

"you are not a racist."

i needed to hear that.

but the fact remains, no matter how unconditional i am when it comes to people who are different... i still struggle with the idea that my middle name is priveledge. if i get tired of dealing with intolerance i can forget about it for awhile and deal with it at my leisure.

i can read a news story about hate crimes and think: "how horrible!" and then get back to my life.

except that if what i am as a christian, white, straight person means that i am recieve a special king of priveledge then i also believe that means i have also have a responsibitily to those who don't get special treatment because of what they are.

if what i am makes me "special" then who i am needs to honor the fact that i have been given an opportunity to do something special by advocating for those who don't get special priveledge.

and i don't mean, i'm so special so i need to help those poor un-special people. i don't mean that since i am in charge of distributing the crayons that i need to make sure that black people get the brown crayons from the box, or that gay people get all the pink ones.

i mean: i have a unique opportunity to remind people that the crayon box belongs to all of us and that we all have a responsibility to ensure that people get the crayons they need to color this world.

what a lesson those kids taught me that day.

God's peace y'all

The Strife is O'er

we have a lead safe house again!!!

now to pack and move everything back in. but i think i'm ok with that.

so many of you have been so supportive of us these past four-ish months. thank you, thank you , thank you. please continue to pray for the silent prince who is not yet lead-free.

God's peace y'all

Friday, April 14, 2006

Lord have mercy, Christ have mercy

well, i just posted this about 5 minutes ago and then went to catch up on my blog-reading. the first place i stopped was dondon's to read the story of two gay man who were brutally attacked while on vacation.

i still feel sick to my stomach.

please take a look at the post before this one if you haven't gotten a chance. it has a great link from crackerlilo about living in a good friday world and it makees sense to me. on the other hand, that people would do such horrible things to another human being just because they are gay makes no sense to me at all.

i don't care how you feel about homosexuals or homosexuality. i don't care if you find it disgusting, wrong, sinful... (well, actually i do, but that's besides the point) ... you don't treat people like that, you don't do things like that to another human being. i wish i could be more eloquent, but i'm too nauseous for eloquence.

and here ...what i originally wrote under the title "hydrated."

i have been neglectful of my other two blogs: sermons at salem and salem's discipleship journey.

well, there are two new posts on the sermon site. one that should have been up a few weeks ago and another from the good friday community service that happened today. the discipleship site will get back on track in the next two weeks while i have some time off to contemplate what to write.

God's peace y'all

Thursday, April 13, 2006

we are an easter people

i love crackerlilo. she gave me this link in her comments on my happy passover post.

(cl, sometime i'm taking my christian behind down to new york and finding you and your beautiful russian wife so we can have drinks together... i may even bring my gorgeous lithuanian hubby with me.)

today was maundy thursday, the day we remember jesus' last supper. it's doesn't always happen, but sometimes passover falls during holy week. the reason why these two sometimes happen in conjunction is because it was during the festival of passover that jesus made his way into jerusalem before his death. and it was most likely the passover seder that jesus was eating with his disciples where he instituted the lord's supper.

there are four components to maundy thursday worship: confession, foot-washing, communion, and stripping the altar in memory of jesus being stripped and beaten prior to his crucifixion.

confession is good... we do it as a community, speaking the words together and then as individuals kneeling at the altar and hearing the words that we are forgiven. forgiveness is a powerful thing.

there were only 3 of us who partook of the foot-washing: a nine year old girl who is deeply grieving the death of her god-father, the assistant minister, and myself. that's a powerful thing too; handling someone else's feet and letting someone else touch yours.

communion is communion. it's perhaps the most mystical thing in my faith. two ordinary things: bread and wine and God is in it.

but it is always the stripping of the altar that does it for me. for years growing up i watched other people, on maundy thursdays, stripping the altar. it was always done with the lights turned down low and someone chanting the 22nd psalm (the one that begins: "my God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" at the one congregation where i grew up we had two members who were blind. both of them had amazing singing voices and often sang solos in church. the one man, who's name i can't remember was legally blind. it meant that while the pastors were stripping the altar he could sing in the dark, by reading the words in braille.

i would watch as all these holy symbols were ushered out of the chancel (the front part of the church) and this pure tenor voice would be chanting from the dark...

our organist agreed to chant the psalm tonight. he has a very nice voice, but his real talent comes from his hands on the keys of the organ or piano. we clear the altar, the altar hangings, the bibles and each item puts a lump in my throat as i take it away.

when i was done i had to sit down. the only lights left on in the sanctuary are on the cross. it's beautiful and sorrowful all at once.

and i remember why i love what i do. and i remember how very loved i am.

God's peace y'all

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

happy passover

Exodus 12
21 Then Moses called all the elders of Israel and said to them, "Go, select lambs for your families, and slaughter the passover lamb. 22 Take a bunch of hyssop, dip it in the blood that is in the basin, and touch the lintel and the two doorposts with the blood in the basin. None of you shall go outside the door of your house until morning. 23 For the Lord will pass through to strike down the Egyptians; when he sees the blood on the lintel and on the two doorposts, the Lord will pass over that door and will not allow the destroyer to enter your houses to strike you down. 24 You shall observe this rite as a perpetual ordinance for you and your children. 25 When you come to the land that the Lord will give you, as he has promised, you shall keep this observance. 26 And when your children ask you, "What do you mean by this observance?' 27 you shall say, "It is the passover sacrifice to the Lord, for he passed over the houses of the Israelites in Egypt, when he struck down the Egyptians but spared our houses.' " And the people bowed down and worshiped. 28 The Israelites went and did just as the Lord had commanded Moses and Aaron.

b'shalom y'all

Monday, April 10, 2006

what is lent?

in a comment on holy week meltdown, crackerlilo asked me to explain lent and why in the heck it was meltdown inducing time.

her exact comment was:

"I've never heard anyone say that about Lent before. When you have time, could you speak a little deeper about it? I'm a Pentecostal-turned-Pagan--never did Lent.

What did you give up? (If I missed it, sorry.)"

ok... some short answers:

lent is the time before easter. it consists of 40 days (not including sundays, which are always considered "little easters.")

it begins on ash wednesday, when we remember our mortality and our need for God.

the last week of lent is called holy week, which begins on palm sunday. palm sunday is when we remember jesus' entrance into jerusalem where people, believing he was going to become their new king, threw palm branches on the ground as he rode in on a donkey.

next follows the triduum or the three days. they are: maundy thursday (when jesus had his last supper and washed the disciples' feet), good friday (when jesus is crucified and dies), and the easter vigil(when the miraculous happens and jesus rises from the dead).

and then there is easter (when we celebrate the resurrection).

lent is an incredibly holy time leading up to the most holy act: the death and resurrection of jesus.

so why is it also the most stressful for clergy?

well, for one, there is an increase in the workload. i add an extra service during the week usually with some sort of supper beforehand. this year was entitled: bread, broth and bible. we gathered, had soup, and then had devotions based upon the story of the good samaritan every wednesday for 5 weeks.

holy week includes lots of extra worship and all of the services are different from other sunday services. i have 2 extra sermons to write this week. and sermon writing is not an easy task, especially when preaching seems most important.

this is the time i most want people to "get." if there is only one story i want people to understand about jesus it's the story this time tells.

and it's not just that i want other christians to get it. i want people to get it because it's what my faith is all about; the idea that God loves us enough to have done this thing... and if God loves us that much, that he would die for us then it means that people are of value... great value. and it doesn't matter what kind of people we are... we are loved.

i want to get the story right and i want people to hear it.

so, there you have it, crackerlilo. i hope that answered your question.

oh, and i did give up something for lent, but i'm keeping it secret.

God's peace y'all

as a side note: the beautiful artwork of the resurrection is by an artist named He Qi. you can see more of his work here.

Friday, April 07, 2006

a day with the pobble

friday, i spent the day with the pobble doing post-divorce (her's not mine) errands. i've come to the conclusion that a day doing crappy, but necessary errands with the pobble is still better than a day doing almost anything else.

this is a gift... having the kind of friend who is as comfortable (sometimes more so than) your own skin. and though i've said it before i have no problem repeating it.

i can't put up facades with the pobble. she sees right through them and the same can be said about me seeing right through her. the good thing is, it doesn't seem to matter if one of us is having a bad time... i can handle being with her when she's down and when i'm down (the kind of down when i don't want anybody around) she can stand right beside me and it's good.

saturday has been a day of birthday parties for the princess kitty to attend.

The first was held at a beauty school where each girl was given an up-do with curls and a manicure with their choice of color (the kitty picked red.) this is a picture of the back of her, in line, waiting her turn at the nail table.

the next party was held at the church and featured an animal show which included a millipede, chinchilla, and snakes.

she had 4 pieces of pizza, but we had to leave before cake in order to go to grandmom and grandpop's for dinner with the fantastic uncle s, who was visiting from boston. (an editor's note: in the last post i said he had his knees replaced. not so... he had knee surgery, but not replacement. if you are reading this; IT'S TIME!)

mom (also know of as gram-gram, by the princess kitty) made incredibly good chili for dinner and the fantastic uncle s had slaved all morning to make brownies (though i have a hunch they were from a box.) they were yummy.

then back home. the silent prince was lulled to sleep by a mozart cd i had purchased at walgreen's for $2.99 and the princess kitty, after such an exciting day was asleep before the previews were done playing on her disney's robin hood video.

a long, but good day. two long but good days in fact. i might actually be on a roll...

God's peace y'all

Thursday, April 06, 2006

holy week meltdown

and it's not even holy week yet.

i love lent, but it exhausts me. there is nothing like it during the church year.

i fall in love with my faith every year sometime between stripping the altar on maundy thursday and shouting alleluia on easter sunday morning. this is the time of year that reminds me why i am a christian.

but i feel so overworked (with so much still to go) that it's hard to really enjoy the stuff that means the most to me.

it's time for a mental health day and then a trip to the pobble's tomorrow. i'll clean up the apartment, do the massive piles of laundry, and play with the silent prince... refocus

God's peace y'all

Monday, April 03, 2006

and then there is the rest of the family

thanks everyone for the comments about my mom. i am a lucky kid to have such great parents.

but mom isn't the only part of my family worth bragging on.

dad is too. his favorite movie is naked gun. brother and i were watching it one day on video and dad walked in the tv room and asked, "what is this?" within minutes he was crying from laughing so hard. to this day if you just mention the movie he starts laughing as if there was no tomorrow.

and dad is perhaps the most gentle person i know and perhaps the strongest. i've never known him to back down when he feels strongly about something. he's been arrested for protesting for workers' rights (i've never been more proud). he was there when the princess kitty was born, helping to squeeze her out... and no, it wasn't weird to have him in the delivery room... it was exactly where i needed him.

dad has been there for me at my lowest and never been judgemental. he guessed when i got my first tat and was relieved when i told him it was a blue cresent moon and not a boy's name.

and then there is my baby brother. i would call him my little brother, but that he is not any more. when my wonderful parents are driving me crazy there is no one else who gets it the way he does. and vice-versa.

when i was living on my own and dirt poor he used to sneak food out of mom and dad's house then come for a visit. later, we both wound up at college together. his friends used to refer to us as luke and leia, which despite the incestuous meaning never bothered us. and yes, he knows every line of the movie.

he married a wonderful woman and i was one of his "guys" at the wedding. she's smarter than he is and he likes it that way. we don't worry about one another. it's the deal we made.

and my uncle... dad was the one who conducted hubby's and my wedding and so mom and uncle s walked me down the aisle. he might be the most generous person i know. when i was born he had his knees replaced... 36 years ago and i think he's ready for another set. every year he treats us to a family vacation in the obx. it might be the best week of the year for all of us. each year he asks us if we want to go again as if there is any question.

when i graduated from seminary he gave me a framed picture of a boat out on the water. looking at it gives me an uneasy sense of calm. my uncle, on the other hand, gives me an easy sense of calm.

then there is the family that i am not blood-related to. there is my mother-in-law, who reads my blog all the time and who i would say nothing but wonderful things about even if she didn't. she is my other mom and she taught me how to cook a turkey. i've heard her curse once and that was when she was quoting someone.

and hubby's sister and 2 brothers... and their families: when you get us all together... stand back: all we do is drink wine, eat, and make stupid jokes about bodily functions.

and then there is the pobble, who said the most wonderful things about me on my birthday in her blog. she is my sister and my dearest friend. no one can be as honest with me as she can. we've shared underwear. she holds my deepest, darkest secrets safe. and i got her's too.

one of the best gifts i got for my birtday was an impromptu lunch date at mcdonald's the day before my birthday before i had a meeting in her new home town. and i even paid.

and then there are the kids... but i talk about them enough already.

ahh.. my family.

God's peace, y'all.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

yes, she is

my mom called not long ago just to say thank you. she had just finished reading the last post about my b-day.

about 12-13 years ago i went through a battery of pyschiatric tests for candidacy to become a pastor. the quack who did the testing believed that i should try to be more like my dad instead of my mom.

now my dad is a wonderful, unbelievable man (that's why mom married him), but i am my mother. shortly after being told that my mother wasn't worth emulating, i decided that if i could be half the woman my mother is i was going to be ok. i also decided that i would claim, with open arms, those parts of me that were just like her and not apologize for it.

and i've loaned mom out many times. she can give a hug like nobody else and she hugs indiscriminately as if it's necessary to live.

she used to stand on her head at parties when i was a kid and now gets down on the floor to play with her grandchildren. she makes the best macaroni and cheese in the world and would feed the world if they showed up at her door.

she doesn't care if you are gay, straight, black, white, or purple... she'll still dance at your wedding.

she is opinionated, and almost always right (which has often driven my brother and me crazy.) she used to call us pumkins and little indians. and she rocks!

"and vivian followed."

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