Monday, December 24, 2007

Unsolicited Christmas Advice

If you save your credit card information and passwords on your computer, DON'T!!!!! My paypal account was heisted on the 22nd. Within the account, 2 bank accounts and 2 credit cards were listed. Luckily, the transactions were frozen and now I'm waiting for $500 to be replaced into my bank account. I froze the other accounts this morning.

This is one of those "I didn't think it would happen to me" things. My Christmas gift to you - a reminder to change your passwords frequently on all online accounts and to NEVER save credit card and bank account info within any online account.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Where I'm at on this foggy, gray day

I Don't Want Anything to Change
Bonnie Raitt

Sleepless nights aren't so bad
I'm staying up, I'm staying sad
I don't want anything to change
I don't want anything to change
I like it lonely, I like it strange
I don't want anything to change

You left a mess
you're everywhere
I'd pick it up but I don't dare
I don't want anything to change
I don't want anything to change
There's nothing I would reaarange
I don't want anything to change

I can feel you fading
But until you're gone
I'm taking all the time that I can borrow
The getting over is waiting
But I won't move on
And I'm gonna wanna feel the same tomorrow

I know the truth is right outside
But for the moment, it's best denied
I don't want anything to change

I can feel you fading...

And I don't want anything to do
With what comes after you
I don't want anything to change...


The other morning, I was sitting in bed as Arwen the cat gave herself a morning bath. Her leg was up in the air, her spine was twisted as only a cat can contort and Minky walked in and said, "Look, Mommy, Arwen's doing yoga!"

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

I'll never lose my keys again!

As many of you know, I am notorious for losing my keys, my Palm Pilot, my remote control, my sanity...

Years ago as I perused that cool mail order catalog found in the seat pocket in front of me, I came across the Sharper Image pages. Ever since, I have coveted the remote control finder thing. Last week, I finally gave in and bought one.

It arrived yesterday and now I'm hooked! The remote has a locator, the cell phone has one, my Palm Pilot has one. I may even put one on the dog and on Minky (ok...just kidding). Whenever an item can't be found, you just get the locator (conveniently kept on the fridge using a magnetized base) and press the appropriate button and BEEP BEEP BEEP! Too cool.

The genius who created the device even answered Rab's skeptical concern: what if you lose the base? Not so fast, oh skeptic! The base has a setting for an alarm that will sound if the locator is left off the base.

The person who designed this device is my hero. As long as I remember, anyway.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Ode to the Sitka Spruce

Talking to my dad's estate attorneys never ceases to amaze me. There's always some surprising twist or turn to throw my former assumptions off. Today was no different.

This afternoon, I was talking to one of the attorneys and she mentioned the famous, on the way to the beach, cornball but ya gotta do it stop known as The Nation's Largest Sitka Spruce Tree (or as one website states: also known as the “Klootchy Creek Giant”) is no more.

Rab and I stopped there on the way to our honeymoon on the Oregon Coast. We went by there the day before my ordination to show it to Future Bishop and his wife. And now the former towering 200' tree has been destroyed by 100+ mph winds. Waah.

At least as I was reading up on all this I found out that there is an official "keeper of the National Big Tree Register". How do you suppose people find jobs in such a field? Is there a 5 year old somewhere saying, "When I grow up, I want to be the keeper of the National Big Tree Register"?


Oh, Minky! Even though I haven't been writing on the blog much in the past months, Minky and his antics have been going strong.
Fred the Dog
One day, Sony, Minky and I walked to the nearby gas station/mini-mart to get some treats. As we were heading out of the building, a rather large, somewhat intimidating man walked out behind us. We walked past an El Camino in the parking lot and the cutest little rat terrier was in the passenger seat. Both Minky and I were cooing over the dog and talking about how cute he was. The large intimidating man got into the El Camino and the dog jumped up onto the man's shoulder. "Ya hear that, Fred, those people think you're cute," he gruffly chuckled with a gravelly voice. Minky, about the size of the guy's arm, went right up to the guy and exclaimed with disbelief, "Fred?! Fred?! That's my grandma's boyfriend's name not a dog name!" Rolling his eyes and shaking his head, Minky walked away in disgust. The guy guffawed in response.

As we continued walking, I said, "Minky...Minky, there's not a day that goes by that you don't make me laugh." Then Sony, in response, said, "Yeah, and there's not a day that goes by that you don't make her angry."

Calling the Blog Back to Life

Is anybody even checking for new posts any more? I can't say I'd blame you if you weren't!

But if you are checking (and obviously, you are checking if you're reading this now...), you're in for a treat. I've got a bunch of posts just waiting to move from memory to keypad. Stay tuned - new posts are on the way momentarily.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Authentic Ministry

From the get go of my journey into ordained ministry, one of the most important hallmarks and hopes has been authenticity. As a student, I was inspired by those who were truly themselves - those pastors who did not turn into "official, super-hero, formal pastor" upon donning their alb and stole. I was lucky and blessed to have numerous examples of authentic ministry during my journey. Today, more than ever before, I lived it out.

When I got to church this morning, I wrote up a one page statement to read at the beginning of service. I knew I would not be able to be fully off the cuff with my words, so the statement gave me a set of notes from which to speak. Basically, I said:

I didn't think it would be quite so difficult to stand before you today… I want to take a moment to thank you for the lovely flowers that were sent to Dad’s funeral and to thank you for all the cards, notes, memorials and hugs. It is indeed a tough time and the grace of God shown through the love and prayers of others are what get me through the day.

In the last 9 months, we’ve all been through a lot. There’s been change around BLC and change in our lives outside of church. As a church, you’ve welcomed a new pastor – a girl pastor at that! And a first call pastor who has fulfilled the stereotype of trying to change too much too soon. For some of you what I say next will be a welcome relief: the coming months will hold some shifts for us as well. You may find that your formerly bubbly, enthusiastic pastor is a bit listless. I won’t be doing as much or pushing as hard. I may cry at the drop of a hat. I may share memories of my dad in our discussions. My pace will slow. Such is the reality of grief.

But as your pastor, I also want to say that my own more measured pace is no reason for us to step away from our ministries and the opportunities before us. Instead, this is an opportunity – a calling even – for you to shine. This is a congregation of gifted, wonderful, beautiful people with talents and time and abilities to share for the glory of God. If you have pondered stepping up your involvement, now is a wonderful time to do so. If you’ve always wanted to try leading an adult education class, now is a time to stand on your colt legs and have a go at it. If a certain ministry is beckoning to you, consider heading it up or organizing some fellow members to work with you.

At all times, the church is God’s church, the church of Jesus Christ. The church is not my church. It is our church. Together we lead it, together we create and tend to its ministries and, as you’ve shown me in the past few weeks and months, together we live in both our celebrations and in our grief.

At the first service, I got about a sentence into it before crying - not just getting misty and teary, but crying. I took some deep breaths, I paused, I resumed, I cried some more, then I said, "I'm not going to stop because this is real. This is grief, it's what it looks like and what it is." I looked out at my congregation and saw many misty eyes and even a few crying eyes. We were bonded in a new way - pastor and parish, brothers and sisters in Christ. It was grace. It was beautiful.

At communion, we used the same liturgy I used at my dad's memorial - the same words we use every week at Jordan. Tears fell from my cheeks during the words. At the beginning of the distribution, the tears were nowhere to be found. But for some reason, midway, they began and I continued to walk around the altar and distribute the bread and say, "The body of Christ given for you" with tears falling all the while. When I got to Darrell, who looks like my dad (and knows it), the tears really fell. Without knowing he did so, Darrell grabbed by hand just the way Dad used to do when I served Dad communion.

I was showered in hugs and shared tears after the service. It was so true, so real, so comforting. When Darrell came up to me, I leaned into his open arms and received a hug. I whispered, "I'm sorry you look like my dad..." and he responded, "I'm not. I'm glad I can be here for you." God incarnate strikes again. I am truly blessed.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

19 Days Later

I guess the time has come to post something.  It's been awhile.  Lately, it's hard to get much of anything done.  I find that my thoughts drift and wander like never before.  I say things backwards (like, "Where are my keys car?" and "Did you mail the pick up?").  I head into one room and forget where I'm going and why before I reach the original destination.  I have a tough time getting out of bed each morning.  Being social is equally challenging.  I'm tired all the time. Such is grief.

Grief is an old acquaintance (I can't begin to give it the level of 'friend').  In the late 1990s, Rab and I lost 10 people in an 18 month period, including his dad, his beloved great uncle, my grandmas, my uncle and two friends about our age.  At the same time, we were going through Rab's year-long diagnostic mystery.  At times, the doctor warned us it could be fatal; it ended up being a very treatable but lifelong endocrine disorder.  Somehow, we survived it...after much therapy and, well, grief.

However, even though I've lived in deep grief before, this time is different.  I think there is nothing like losing a parent.  Since my dad died, I've found amazing amounts of comfort from those who have also lost a parent.  When I talk to them, there is an unspoken, immediate assumption that they understand the depth.  Then, the minute the first words are out of one of our mouths, the cathartic tears begin to flow.  Never have I appreciated the beauty of shared suffering and community the way I do now.

When I left Portland, I thought it might be hard to grieve because I wouldn't have all the reminders around me.  It's strange, though.  Even here, the gas tankers come to fill up the storage tanks of the gas station.  When I see that, I think of Dad's lifelong dedication to his "service station" -- God forbid anyone call his place a "gas station"!   I pet my dog and remember Dad because Dad paid the adoption fee as a Christmas present to the boys.  I go to the liquor store and see "Old Fart Wine" and think, "I've gotta get that and send it to Dad.  He'd think that was hilarious!"  And then, I remember...

I suppose this isn't the most enjoyable post - but it's where I'm at.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again

In memory of my dad, Allen. August 20, 1939 - September 10, 2007.

Phantom Of The Opera - Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again Lyrics
You were once my one companion . . . you were all that mattered . . .
You were once a friend and father, then my world was shattered . . .
Wishing you were somehow here again . . . wishing you were somehow near . . .
Sometimes it seemed if I just dreamed, somehow you would be here . . .
Wishing I could hear your voice again . . . knowing that I never would . . .
Dreaming of you won't help me to do all that you dreamed I could . . .
Passing bells and sculpted angels, cold and monumental, seem, for you the wrong companions - you were warm and gentle . . .
Too many years fighting back tears . . . Why can't the past just die . . .?
Wishing you were somehow here again . . . knowing we must say goodbye . . .
Try to forgive, teach me to live . . . give me the strength to try . . .
No more memories, no more silent tears . . . No more gazing across the wasted years . . .
Help me say goodbye. Help me say goodbye!

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Spiritual Direction Training

We've reached Day Two of training. I am absolutely loving this experience! It feels great to be so centered and filled.

Here is last night's review (I didn't know I could get online until tonight!):

Yes! Yes! Yes! Aaaahhhh…a night of laughter, of enjoying the company of the people around me, of seeking and experiencing God. I’m gonna love this spiritual direction stuff!

The main leader, Mr. Humble Authenticity, is just amazing. Mr. Humble Authenticity is very real, very funny, and very good at leading retreats (at least so far). He reminded each of us, in such a convincing way, that God loves us as-is. I actually almost believed it. The Two Sisters who co-lead our training are adorable, gentle souls. They led a worship service at the end of tonight’s session that was centered around the theme of weaving. It was so creative, so fresh, and so fulfilling. I feel renewed and recentered. Amen!

After the initial session, there was a wine and cheese social hour (man, I love this place) and I ended up sitting with Sister Mary and a bunch of other nuns. I told them that tonight I finally learned what all those initials at the end of their names mean (it refers to their nun gang – for example, SBM could mean ‘Sisterhood of the Blessed Mary.’ If I had one, it could be FPRC – Fire Pit Revelers of the Castle – or LOP – Loyal Order of Parrotheads). They thought it was so fun to have a non-Catholic to educate. “Oh that rotten Bishop so-and-so, he thinks such-and-such is a mortal sin,” one of them complained. Sister Mary looked at me and said, “I’ll bet you don’t know what a mortal sin is.” I answered, “It sounds pretty bad…that’s all I know.” For the next 20 minutes or so, the nuns had a great time explaining the difference between a mortal sin and other sins to me. We also talked about women’s ordination and open table communion. We’re all more on the same wavelength than I would’ve thought. They absolutely howled when I told my story about Rab at his bosses’ dad’s funeral (have I told that here before?).

Sister Mary is an absolute riot. What a dear lady she is! What an amazing pastor she’d be and what an amazing minister she is! She is a great listener; somehow our conversation went from laughing about women’s ordination one minute to me spilling my heart out about the craziness of life the next then we talked about some things weighing on her heart and mind. SM has a new job all picked out for me – she knows a Lutheran pastor with such a unique job that I can’t even tip my hat to it here. He’s hoping to retire in a few years, and she asked me if she could give him my name as a recommendation. “You’d be absolutely perfect for it!” she exclaimed. Funny enough, as I drove up here tonight, I was pondering other paths this pastor gig could take in the years to come. SM tells me that’s the Spirit at work; I’m worried that it sounds great because the grass is always greener somewhere else.

Day Two reflections:
It was another wonderful day. It started off a bit funny. I woke up at 9:00 a.m. with a panic. Breakfast began at 8:05 and our first session began at 9:30. I knew I had set my alarm, so I checked out the clock to figure out what had gone wrong. It ends up the time was set 12 hours off - as in, it said 9:00 but it thought it was 9:00 pm.

Our morning began with an overview of the 3 year program. I'm a bit concerned about one component: a 6 day directed retreat. It sounded like fun initially in the bulletin - 6 days away from the rush of life...maybe I could even pack up and bring my scrapbooking!! Ends up it involves 6 days living in a hermitage all alone, with one hour a day daily in spiritual direction. The 1 hour per day sounds great. The 23 hours per day sound terrifying! 23 hours x 6 days = way too many hours without social interaction, noise, the internet, conversation and people! Yikes! Oh...and it gets crazier....we prepare our own meals for those 6 days too. Yeah, those of you who know me, go ahead and roll on the floor now.

Somehow, our long day and full schedule passed so quickly. I can't believe it's almost time to return home. We had three main sessions today - all rooted in prayer and worship followed by some personal stories then some small group time. Each time we went into small groups, we received a new facilitator and new groupings. It was amazing to hear such beautiful stories about God and how God works in our lives. The first session focused on our expectations and what brought us to this step in the journey. The second session asked about the shepherds on our journey - those people who've made profound impacts on our lives. The third session dealt with how our image and understanding of God has evolved and changed throughout our lives. The evening ended with another social - this time, they served beer. I don't like beer :(

I feel more serene and centered than I have in a long time. I am so thankful for this time away to regather and recall the roots of who I am, how I'm called to serve, and how God continually sustains me. What an amazing blessing to regroup and be fed so fully.

Thursday, September 06, 2007


For the last 2 days, Minky has been telling me he doesn't feel good. On Wednesday, he would have convinced you that he was on his last leg. Then, when he was waiting at the bus stop, I peeked out the window and saw him playing tag and acting happy as a lark.

Today, I let him sleep in and drove him to school. He kept trying to convince me he was deathly ill. I took advantage of the teachable moment to explain that his days of faking illness and of telling stories are catching up to him.

After school, he came home and looked pretty queasy. He promptly threw up.

Minky (as he's escorting me to the bathroom to see his barf): "See, Mom! You should have believed me!!!!"
Me: "Yep, Minky, it's hard to know (insert more teachable moment conversation not worth repeating here)...when you're a dad, you can decide whether or not to believe your kid when they say they're sick."
Minky: "But I'm not going to have kids. They're too much trouble."
Me: "Really?"
Minky: "Yeah. I'm gonna buy a motorcycle and play with my friends and goof off when I'm a grown up."
Me: "How are you going to pay for a motorcycle and a place to live?"
Minky: "My wife will take care of all that. My job will be to play."

It's so reassuring to know I'm raising such a go-getter.

This Made Me Laugh

Anyone else want to order one of these? You can get t-shirts, bags, mouse pads...

Spiritual Direction Training Here I Come!

Tomorrow, I head to the Franciscan Spirituality Center to begin my training as a spiritual director.

The kids, predictibly, are both sick with stomach flu. The dog needs to be groomed - he's stinky and no longer huggable. One of my favorite parishoners is in ICU. I could work all weekend and still not be 'caught up' on everything. And, instead of reveling in the glory of my life, I'm escaping for 48 hours of anticipated sanity and serenity. Aaaaahhhh...

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Today, I Did My Job

After the week I've had, it was a little tough to head to church this morning. But, somehow, it also felt right. On the way there, I picked up one of my favorite little ladies and had a wonderful conversation over the next 8 blocks to Jordan.

Then, during service, I looked out and saw all those grown lambs looking to me for leadership and words of grace. These lambs have no idea (or at least little idea) about all the fuss brewing on my back burners. They haven't heard all the detailed panic and woe of the leadership or the budget crisis. They came to church on a Sunday morning. They came to worship and to share their faith with their brothers and sisters in Christ. As I stood before them, the resounding message was clear - I'm called to pastor this flock. The entire flock. And the other resounding message was equally clear - forget the frustrations and the challenges and the worries that weigh me down and live out the call. Truly live it. Live it and breathe it and trust God with the rest.

After service, I headed to the ICU of a hospital about 30 miles away. A family who has had one hell of a year has someone in the hospital. Since I arrived, challenge after challenge has arrived at their doorstep. "Pastor Skdo, no other pastor has ever had time for our family." These words were spoken by a crying parishoner's daughter in the ICU waiting room. She was crying because she'd been judged, admonished, called into question harshly and then ignored. Her story, which I believe is true and accurate, is heartwrenching. Even if only 10% of her story were accurate, what happened was still unfortunate and unnecessary.

I'm not sure what I feel more strongly: assured that I've been used by God to bring God's love, reconciliation and grace to those most in need or ashamed to be in the same profession as some of my colleagues.

Friday, August 31, 2007

Somewhere Over the Rainbow - TT style

The boys and I went to the Castle today to visit friends and get away from the stresses of the week. After errands to the mall and Cancer Society (best clothes in town!), the boys bought new DS games. On the way home, with the boys deeply invested and involved in their DS adventures, I put on some full-tilt girl music.

As the dramatic version of Somewhere Over the Rainbow hit it's finale with "if blue birds fly...over...the...rain...bow....why....oh, why.........can't.......IIIIIII," TT, in tune and with the same pace and drama sang boldly, "'re not.....a....biiirrrrrddddd."

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Do ERs give frequent flyer miles?

Tuesday night at 9:40 p.m., we headed hurriedly to the ER. Again. Not for a parishoner. For Sony. He was having intense pain on his left side that doubled him over in tears and agony. Rab called our 24-7 nurse helpline and they said to take him to the ER. Rab volunteered to stay home with a very worried Minky (who desperately wanted to go and make sure his brother was ok) and I headed to the next town with a screaming, crying, hurting kid.

The admitting person was getting someone back to room and said she'd be with us in a moment. This was understandable but made me growl internally - here was a kid in obvious distress and the people looking at magazines further back in the nurse's station couldn't assume the check in lady's task? A nurse who was walking out of a room heard Sony and caught my eye. She immediately came over and took Sony back, but I couldn't follow because he had to be checked in. I hate paperwork details - especially when the rules separate me from my child.

A few minutes later, I was able to go back to him. The nurse was absolutely fantastic. She was very patient and caring and attentive. Sony could barely speak and she worked with that reality. Far, far later - much too much later - the doctor finally saw us. I've worked in hospitals and I understand triage but I was not impressed with the pace - even if the nurse had determined we could be at the bottom of the rotation (which I guess is what happened).

Twice while we were waiting, I went to the nurses station only to find the two doctors on staff chatting. Grrr. Once I went out to let them know that Sony's pain was worsening. "Ok, thanks for letting us know," was the doctor's response. But still, nobody came into our room. Then, about 1/2 hour later, I saw our nurse in the hallway, caught her eye and asked her to come see what Sony was doing (he was flinching and involuntarily moving his head). She came in and took a look. Eventually - my guess is that it was 1.5-2 hours after we arrived - the doctor came in.

She literally yelled at him, screaming, "You have got to stop that! I can't hear your heartbeat," and "HOW AM I GOING TO HELP IF YOU WON'T COMMUNICATE!" and "This is just not going to work." When I tried to answer questions, she stuck her hand out and snapped, "I've got this under control, Mom!" Yeah, sure you do lady, that's why you're screaming at my kid. Oh, and by the way, maybe if you tried being kind, my son would not be turning away from you. Just a small hint...She was HORRIBLE! I have never been so unimpressed in my life.

When the nurse came in to see if he'd gone to xray yet, I told her, "You know, I'm normally pretty patient with doctors who don't click with me or my kids, but that woman will not come back in here as long as my son is in this room. Do you have another doctor around right now or should we begin the process of changing to Hospital in the Next Town?" We were quickly transferred to another doctor's case load and suddenly treated very well. It was a bit disgusting how important we'd become when the hospital realized they might lose our business.

Long, long, long story short, we ended up coming home around 2 a.m. after two rounds of blood tests and an xray. Today, we head to Sony's regular doctor to follow up on some of the concerns that were found in the bloodwork. It all looks managable, but I'm seriously considering calling the hospital and lodging a complaint.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Why I can never be an Optimist

This morning, the Jerusalem Optimists invited me to speak and introduce myself. They've been asking me to come to speak at one of their 7 a.m. meetings since I moved here, but motherhood has trumped my morning availability to community groups. Now that Rab is home with the kids, I was available. So at 6:15 a.m. (ugh), my alarm went off and I dragged myself out of bed very unenthusiastically. Even the dog thought it was too early. He actually glared at me with bags under his eyes when I suggested he get out of his kennel and go outside.
I arrived at the meeting and was met warmly (how else would a group of optimists welcome a guest?). They were a lovely group of people exuding enthusiasm and joy. They began their meeting with the Pledge of Allegiance and then the Optimist Creed. I was already pretty sure I couldn't join any group that chose to meet at 7 a.m., but I was reluctantly willing to consider it at least briefly. Yet upon hearing the creed, I was sure I could never join the club.

...To be too large for worry, too noble for anger, too strong
for fear, and too happy to permit the presence of trouble.

Call me idealist or a realist or a skeptic or a Lutheran theologian. I'll take any of those labels on. But to think that I can possibly be too large for worry, too noble for anger, etc., etc. is to attempt to live in great denial of life's realities. I'm angry that there are starving people in the world while others dine at the Ritz and I think that's noble. I worry about how my shy 11 year old will adjust to middle school and I think that makes me a large hearted mama. I fear snakes and my 8 year old's future in life, and I am still a strong woman.
It just seemed too Pleasantville for me. Life is not black and white. To live in denial of worry, anger, fear or trouble makes me prone to mental illness not optimism. I understand that these folks are wonderfully engaged in the community and that they make a positive difference in the world. I applaud their efforts, but not their creed. Maybe I'm onto something....or maybe I just need a nap.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Wounded Butterfly

On Navy Pier the other night, as Southern Wisdom and I shared our stories and souls, a butterfly came soaring out of nowhere. I thought it was a bat at first - a deceptive first impression. Then I looked again.

I looked down at my feet and saw a wounded butterfly. It was hobbling around. It could no longer fly. It flapped its wings energetically but helplessly. This formerly vibrant butterfly wouldn't give up. It garnered the attention of the collected people at the cafe tables along the lake - everyone's souls seem to sink as they watched it. Nobody did anything to help it - none of us seemed to be sure how we might be able to help.

I can't get that butterfly out of my mind. And, strangely, the timing of its interruption could not have been more metaphorically fitting to the topic of our conversation.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Is the Weekend Over Yet?

This weekend, Cartoon Network has hosted a million hour marathon of every Naruto episode ever made. The last one just aired. Thank God. That's all that's been on our TVs. Even Rab has been hooked.

Maybe I Should Move to the UCC

During the summer, my UCC colleague and I share the preaching load. From July 4 - Labor Day, we split the Sundays and each preach at both our own and the other's church on our assigned Sundays. It's a great ecumenical experience that saves our churches some money, gives us a nice break and helps the congregations know the pastor who usually provides vacation coverage.

This morning, preaching Luke 12:49-56 was an interesting experience. The sermon, like the text, was more law based than most. The sermon was peppered with my dry humor and musings on reality. My own folks never laughed - a small few may have leaned their head back and shrugged their shoulders in a "I find that funny enough to move but not funny enough to make a noise" kind of way. The UCC congregation cracked up left and right (and they were laughing with me, not at me).

I'm not sure what to make of the experience, but it does cause me to once again (and this time lightly and only in jest) consider whether or not the Lutheran church is the place for me to be serving. Lutheran theology is a given - I love it, breathe it and attempt to live it. Yet, sometimes I cannot help but wonder if that candidacy psychologist was correct when she said, "You're an ENFP?! Lutherans aren't ENFPs?!?!" Can a Lutheran ENFP lead a group of whatever letters Lutherans typically are? I've always thought so, but now I'm clear that the Lutherans may not get ENFP humor and I'm not sure what to make of that. Maybe the UCC is made up of ENFPs.

Friday, August 17, 2007

I feel so cosmopolitan

On the way home today, I acquired an iPass. No more fumbling for change, no more slowing down to wait in line to pay a toll on I-90. What freedom!

It felt great to just cruise on by each of those toll stations without slowing down. Yep, you're right, it doesn't take much to make my day.

I might just need to go to Chicago more often.

A Breeze Blowing from the East

What a great time. What a lovely night. I finally made it to Chicago around 3:15. Southern Wisdom had a meeting in the hotel lobby at 3:30, so I sorted briefcase contents and began this Sunday's sermon in the room (This week's text is a pistol by the way.).

Around 5:00 or so, SW returned and we were free for the night. Heading into downtown, we were faced with surprisingly little traffic. felt good to head to the city, to drive in traffic, to feel again. Home. There's just something about the city that fills me and makes it easier for me to simply breathe and be in the moment. Call me crazy - I know most people experience this away from the big city. For me, though, it's one of two extremes: the beach or the highrises - the two places I can be and feel fully myself.

We arrived downtown and, because I'm both stubborn and cheap, we circled and circled attempting to find a meter or an empty spot. We finally found one after about 20 minutes of Israelite-like driving around and near our destination. The journey to find our spot made the big city experience a full one. During our circling of roughly 8 or so blocks, we saw:

  • two 20-something guys in business suits threaten each other physically for a parking spot
  • a handsome 40-something man with a tight, square jaw and a lime green tie who Southern Wisdom was sure would be a fabulous dinner guest
  • a guy getting arrested while his confused and helpless friends scratched their heads in amazement
  • a bus come within inches of my driver's side mirror as it turned into my lane and the adjacent lane
  • a couple doing what should only be done in private, and
    a near collision as one car attempted to turn left on an orange (not quite yellow anymore) light.
Like I said earlier, there's nothing like the city.

I took Southern Wisdom to Ed Debevic's. She enjoyed it, although I was a bit disappointed in our fairly tame waiter. Near the end of the meal, he made my day when he apologized for something and SW said, "I thought you were all supposed to be ornery around here." He just smiled and I interjected, "I brought her here for a dose of good ole Chicago charm - she's from the South." At which point, he bellowed to the entire restaurant, "Hey y'all...this lady is from the South. Let's all give her a big 'Howdy y'all!!' and the restaurant patrons obliged loudly and enthusiastically. SW promised her revenge would come later. But she's all never did.

After Ed's, we drove up Michigan Avenue so she could at least experience it by sight (most everything was closed by the time we were done at Ed's). It was full of people and activity and was fun to cruise. Oh my...I just realized that my nearly-40 friend and I just cruised as an activity on a Thursday night. We really need to get out more. Anyway, I digress. After our tour of Michigan Avenue, we headed to Navy Pier.

I'd never been to Navy Pier and I'd heard from many folks that it was just a big ole tourist trap. Yes, it's true we paid $16 for parking. It's true that the place was populated by tourists. It's also true that there were a million shops all selling Chicago wares. But so what? There was also a live band playing outside, a bunch of chairs right along the lake inviting us to sit and talk, a perfect 70 or so degree night, and an absolutely amazing view of the Chicago skyline. We sat and talked for hours, sharing our hearts and worries and fears and wonderments. I'm so lucky to have SW, a trustworthy, intuitive and insightful woman, as a friend. We had an absolutely wonderful time on that tourist trap pier and, in retrospect, neither of us would have chosen any other venue for our re-connecting, hours-long conversation. Life is good.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Windy City, Here I Come!

YAY! Tomorrow, Southern Wisdom arrives in Chicago and I get to see her and spend time with her! I can't wait. She arrives at 2pm, so we should be able to hit all kinds of fun spots. I'm thinking of taking her to Ed Debevic's for dinner - so not a Southern type place. She thought it sounded great. We'll probably also hit good ole Michigan Ave. We won't be able to go to my favorite Chicago breakfast haunt, Oak Tree, because she has a meeting at HQ on Friday am. Oh well, we'll still have a great time reconnecting, laughing, and adventuring.

Tonight, Ozzie and Harriett's kids are staying the night. All four kids are in Denver Court level paradise. It's fun to see them all so jubilant and full of excitement. Rab and I had a great time catching up with O & H when they dropped the kids off - we just wish we'd had more time to talk and commiserate. We really need to plan previous-dwellers-of-Denver-Court reunions more often.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Pray for Me

Jerusalem had their town festival this weekend. On our walk downtown (Yep, we're close enough to walk), we stopped at the library book sale. In addition to a bunch of books for Minky, Sony found a new book and Rab found a few too. To round us off to the $1.00 mark (the bargain price was 10 books for a buck), I picked up a copy of Marcia Clark's memoirs of the OJ trial. I'm hooked. I'm embarrassed to admit that I'm having a hard time putting it down. I can't wait to find out how it ends...

Friday, August 10, 2007

Simpsonized Family

Instead of watching the Today Show after the last post, the fam gathered around the computer and Simpsonized ourselves. Nothing like a little Friday morning family bonding. Here are the results:

Day 5 of VBS, 2 sermons and a loaded council agenda

Here in Jerusalem, we've turned country this week. Our VBS theme, Avalanche Ranch, has been littered with bad Southern accents, tons of food, and a bevy of willing and enthusiastic volunteers (if only the Stewardship committee could be so enthused....). 65 kids come through our doors each night - the most Jordan has seen in a long time. It's exciting to see all the frenzy and flurry - especially the frenzy of panicking kitchen staff who exclaimed on Monday, "There are too many kids!!!" I walked through the kitchen just in time to hear that comment and responded with glee, "What a wonderful problem!! Too many kids in the church - I hope that problem never goes away!" My comment was met with confused and bewildered stares.

With a VBS service and an I-hate-children-who-don't-sit-silently-in-worship prayer service this week, I have two very different sermons to prepare on two different texts. As I sat down to write yesterday, I thanked the Holy Spirit as I noticed that the theme of each text is fairly similar: our unpredictible God and the call to live in faith nonetheless. Last week, the sermon was about whether we live in faith or in fear.

Next Monday, we have Church Council. A look at the agenda causes me to wonder if we'll all still be there next Wednesday. There are 16 items for old and new business - all topics that the President and I agree need to be addressed this month.

On the homefront, Rab is fulfilling the role of stay at home dad this month. Minky's meds have been a bit off kilter and we decided that it was worth the financial sacrifice to have Rab home keeping Minky's life stable and predictible. While we still believe this to be true, it's hard when push comes to shove and we find ourselves with mounting bills and down to one car because we can't afford a new tire for the truck. Thank God for a mother-in-law who takes pity on our plight and sent money for a new tire.

We found out yesterday that Minky's beloved psychologist is not on our insurance (we thought he was), so we now owe over $1000 that our "out of network" coverage will not pay and we are on the hunt for a new psychologist. This is just what Minky needs: another transition in his life. I absolutely hate insurance companies and their rules and loopholes. Even with what many would consider great insurance, we have consistently spent between $7,000-$10,000 annually for Minky's uncovered medical care. Such insanity.

So that's what's going on here in Jerusalem. I suppose I should get back to watching the Today Show and sipping coffee on this partial day off. Then I'll need to gear up for the final day of speaking with a corny and probably bad Southern accent.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

I Really Should Be Writing My Sermon

Instead, I'm finding out what I'd look like as a Simpson's character.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Facebook is dangerous, addicting and wonderful

In the past week, I think I've spent over 6 hours on Facebook. This doesn't include time spent on the site for my graduating class, time spent on MySpace, and time spent with Cafe Mom (yeah...thanks for that, Bluejeangirl!).

In my well spent hours, I have sent and received flowers and other items for my garden, found old friends from The Other Seminary, found out that John and I are wayyyyyy too similar, and learned that there are far too many fun timewasters on Facebook.

I need a life....or at least some friends in the same town.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Why I Love Buffett Concerts

  1. Nobody thinks twice of offering an upset woman a ride when her husband is flipping out.
  2. Neighbors in the jammed post-concert parking lot are more than happy to pull up an extra chair, grab an extra dessert, pour you a cup of coffee, and invite you to sit down and chat as if you're an old friend while you all wait for the traffic to clear.
  3. If you find a dropped cell phone on the stairs, the person who dropped it is fairly sure that when they call, you'll be willing to find them in the overly-crowded mass of people and return it.
  4. A guy you meet in the will call line is more than willing to give you his extra backstage passes when you tell him the story about how your connection didn't come through.
  5. Sitting in the lawn is a positive, fun, joyful experience full of people who want to set the rest of life aside for awhile and enjoy the experience.
  6. Being a parrothead means using your husband's backstage pass to take the nice lady next to you to the backstage bathroom so neither of you have to wait in line.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Come Monday, It'll Be All Right?

24 hours ago: Waiting for Jimmy Buffett to come on stage
23 hours ago: Soaking in every moment of a great concert

12 hours ago: People watching with Rab on the Magnificent Mile and watching the sleepy city begin to stir
10 hours ago: Having a great breakfast with friends

4 hours ago: Looking at and attemping to avoid the stack of bills on the dining room table
3 hours ago: Sitting in the ER with Minky who had ripped his toe apart with a stick (all will be ok)

I want to go back to Margaritaville!

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

More Minky Adventures

Yesterday, an hour or so outside of Portland, Minky became a bit stir crazy. He asked for a pen and, assuming the best (what's wrong with me!), I gave him one. By the time we arrived at Rab's mom's, Minky had completely covered himself in ink - arms, hands, shoes, legs.... at least he's been swimming non-stop since we arrived. I'm sure the chlorine will eat the ink away. Click on the photo below to get a sense of the event. The shirt was particularly fitting that day.

Today for lunch, Minky decided that instead of a slice of cheese pizza or a peanut butter sandwich, he'd have a slice of peanut butter pizza. Yum.

Pictures from the Trip

For some reason, posting pictures to the last post became tricky. Instead, here are some pics and links from our adventures thus far.

Our Trip So Far (pre-accident!)

We set out Tuesday for our 3 week family vacation. After an appointment in the big city, we headed North to see Mark and his 3 legged dog, Pogo. On the way there, our brakes began to make ungodly noises but we made it there safe and sound. The boys were so thrilled to see the duo and they sheepishly presented Mark with a copy of Uncle Jim’s song, “I am a Three Legged Dog” just for Pogo. What a wonderful night of catching up as well as simply enjoying each others' company. It was great to reconnect.

Wednesday was 4th of July. We determined that we’d might as well continue the drive to Custer, South Dakota as planned, regardless of the strange brake noises. Of course, the noises became more and more ungodly as the day progressed. But we didn’t let it dampen our spirits or our plans. Instead, we wound our way around South Dakota in true tourist style, stopping at the Corn Palace (corny and cheesy), Wall Drug and the Badlands. At the Corn Palace, we spent more money on two servings of Dippin’ Dots than on lunch for the whole family. As we ate, though, we got to hear one gift store worker talking to our cook/cashier/waiter/new friend. The worker shared her tale of disbelief at tourist antics, telling us how one woman asked to go through each box in the store in search of the correct sized T-shirt for her overly indulged child. The lady looked for over an hour and finally found the shirt.

By the time we arrived in the Badlands, the boys were ready to get out of the van and move. Luckily, the Badlands have ample room for rogue children. What an amazing sight. When we finally reached the end of the Badlands road and found ourselves in Wall, South Dakota, Minky was on the verge of an over-tired, over-hungry meltdown. Needless to say, the Wall Drug experience left me yearning for drugs – Xanax, Valium, any form of sedation would do…

After 45 minutes of nail biting indecision in the gift store, Minky chose a sligshot and Sony picked out a pirate super ball that lit up when bounced. We were on our way, squeaky brakes and all. We arrived in Custer late Wednesday night, after an adventurous drive through Custer State Park where Rab drove 35 mph and I hollered “left” “right” “two on right” “up the hill” as I spotted deer after deer alongside the road.
The next morning found us with a very full agenda, a limited amount of time, and a hostess from Heaven (HFH). I had stayed at HFH’s hotel a few weeks ago when I came to Custer for Small Town Girl’s ordination. HFH is an adorable lady and it was wonderful to see her again. Rab and I asked her for suggestions on mechanics, preferably one who could help us that day and she suggested two. Rab called the first one and the owner was currently out of the office. The person Rab spoke to was not sure if they could squeeze us in. Rab called the second shop, DJ’s Service and connected with Ski the magician. Ski said he could help us out around 4pm as long as we picked up the parts and brought them with us.

Given the choice between relatively flat roads toward Rapid City and the twisty, windy roads of Needles Highway and Mt Rushmore, we decided to visit Reptile Gardens and Bear Country before taking the van to Ski. Both venues were wonderfully touristy and full of animals. The boys loved them. Afterward, we headed back to Custer and Rab dropped the boys and I off at Flintstone Village. I’d love to say we stopped here for the kids’ sake, but I must admit this stop was all for me. Luckily, the boys humored me and managed to have a great time at the most wonderfully cheesy stop of the trip. It was awesome! It is probably a good thing that Rab went to Ski’s while we played in Bedrock. I think the village may have been just a touch too tacky for Rab. But, again, I loved it!

Rab had his own wonderful experience with the van. Ski not only fixed it in less than an hour, he also charged us the “friends and family” rate because Rab had mentioned that he’d hoped we’d make it to Oregon where my dad’s shop could fix the brakes. Then Rab found out that DJ’s Service stands for “Doing Jesus’ Service.” Ski, it turns out is an angel as well as a mechanic.

Thursday afternoon and evening came to a close after a trip through the Needles Highway, the Custer State Park Nature Loop and a 10:15 pm drive by of Mount Rushmore. At the Nature Loop, we were able to experience a herd of bison as they crossed the street and headed to wherever bison head at the end of the day. Listening to them grunt and snort and talk to one another was somehow holy and magical. It reminded me of the experience of listening to whales. It was truly incredible and awe inspiriting.

Friday morning, we headed to Mt Rushmore, which was actually cooler than I’d anticipated. If you ever go there, take time to walk down to the Artist’s Studio where there’s a large model of the original plans, a ranger talk, and a great bookstore. That one stop was the highlight of the stop. After our patriotic experience, it was off to Devil’s Tower in eastern Wyoming. The pictures made it look like a big giant rock in the middle of the prairie. I went along with the plan because Rab seldom asks for any particular stops along the journey. After 17 years of being married to this fairly consistent, easy-going guy, I saw no need to argue with a detour to a big rock in the prairie. Besides…it allowed us to use our National Park Pass once again thus making the $80 purchase even more worth the price.

It turns out that the Big Rock in the Middle of the Prairie actually was pretty cool. It too had a holy quality to it. For many, many years, this rock has been the subject of many legends. Many of the stories involve the idea that a bear created the rugged sides of the rock. Speaking of bears, our day ended with a climbing drive up 10,000’+ Bear Claw Pass, a winding, twisting, turning highway leading to Cooke City, Montana and the Northeast entrance to Yellowstone. I think I’m glad we drove the pass in the dark of night – some of the postcards for the Pass have the words “Don’t look down!” on the pictures. It’s a pretty sharp, jaggedy and cliff-like road.

We spent Friday and Saturday night in Cooke City, Montana. The place gets approximately 220” of snow a year –definitely not the place for me! In the summertime, though, it is lovely and bustling with visitors. It seemed like everyone we saw had a dog and Minky needed to introduce himself to each of them (the dogs, that is). He had pictures taken with the largest (a St Bernard) and the smallest (a dachshund) dogs of Cooke City. A few more pictures with other people’s pets and we could make it into a calendar.

Yellowstone was amazing. There really is no way to briefly describe the experience. We saw loads of bison, many magpies, lots of ground squirrels, a lone coyote, and a fair share of elk and deer. At one point, we were within about 30 feet of a grizzly (EEK but COOL!). The falls and springs and Old Faithful were all wonderful. I only wish we’d had time to simply be in the moment rather than going from one sight to the next to the next. There were glimpses of peace and serenity, mostly sprinkled alongside Minky’s borderline fits and quick lunches of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and fruit.