Wednesday, November 30, 2011

blog ambitions

Ideas run through my head all the time: the next coolest restaurant, the soon to be top selling novel, and the blog that'll be a breeze to write and everyone will love.

Sometimes my brain is more ambitious than I want it to be.

I can't open up a ramen place in Charlotte.  There's no way I have time to write that book about all sorts of different people's lives crossing one another's and centering the story of a young couple with a sick daughter in the hospital that ends with a mixture of grief and hope.  And how in the world would I write the anonymous blog of letters everyone wishes they would write: the letter to the teacher who's breath made you hate math; the letter to the childhood friend who doesn't return your attempts at keeping in touch; the letter to the person who donated your favorite t-shirt to the goodwill where you found it for $1.50.

Maybe one of these days....until then, I'll haphazardly update this blog and keep thinking good ideas.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Sometimes....

Sometimes I still pick up the phone and dial my grandmother's number.  The thing is, she's not there to answer on the other line.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Whatever happened to them?

Whatever happened to the ones I used to be so concerned about?  The ones who I tried so hard to please?  Whatever happened to that boy I paid such close attention to?  What every happened to those girls who made me feel less than...well, just less than?  What ever happened to those good ole buddies?  Where'd the girls go who pointed fingers at my life decisions?   Where are the ones that I cried over leaving?  Thirty years have passed and some of those folks just don't exist anymore.  Why is that?  Where are they?

Now there are new ones.  Ones that have taken place of the others.  Sometimes functioning in the same ways as before, some new and fresh- more life giving.  At least, I hope so.    Time passing does crazy things to relationships and life. 

Monday, October 10, 2011

Good ole boys

I believe that hell involves being present at a good ole boys meeting.  Oh my! To top it off, they'll be wearing suits and ties and I'll be wearing blue jeans.

Hug

Someone just gave me a good hug. No one ever hugs me. I'm just not one to draw many hugs and usually I am ok with that. The hug today, though, was just what I needed. It was really nice. Thanks, Mandy.

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Wishy washy

It is only Monday, but I already feel like the week is going to go by without notice. We'll spend minutes and hours and days with one another and yet we won't notice, won't remember anything significant or good. We'll go through the motions: welcome neighbors, write sermons, run errands and then the week will be over and we'll have wished we'd done things differently. We'll have wished for alone time, nap time, creative time, an inspiring experience, a good meal, something beautiful...and the week will have been over and the time is past. On to another week.

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Friday, October 7, 2011

Art/Craft Show

I hope everyone comes out to our little arts and crafts show in November.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Get it together

I can't seem to get it together lately. I want it all, but instead have to make choices; choices I don't want to make.

Pick one, Helms:
Rest or exercise
Artistic expression or a clean house
Good food or cheap food
A well tended garden or time with the boys

The choices grow from there.
I wish I could have it all...lose weight, enjoy food, quiet time, good friends, good ideas, plan for the chaos...but it just isn't possible right now.

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Thursday, September 29, 2011

Several things

I may be crazy taking two toddlers to a nice italian place by myself, but I did and the boys were complete angels. We even got a compliment from the extremely surgically enhanced couple sitting by us.

I was so ultra productive today that I decided to balance with total unproductivity this evening.

I am watching a marathon of Felicity reruns. The reflection in the netflix computer screen, when it goes black between scenes, looks like my Mother.

I finally got new shoes. Maybe my feet won't hurt so badly. One can only hope.

I didn't take a shower today until the boys went to bed. Now I feel good and clean.

That's it for now.
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Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Hand written letters

For years and years, I wrote letters and sent cards to people. I don't get around to writing as many as I used to. I even wrote letters throughout college. I never really got response notes. 
The only person who wrote me back as a kid was Anna.  She and I were pen pals for years and years. Now we keep up via facebook.
It is sort of a bummer these dyad when I check the mail and there is nothing there but junk. In the back of my mind, I think to myself that all those letters I wrote will amount to some "real" mail in the mailbox. I sure hope so!

Friday, September 9, 2011

Memoirs: Chris, part 2

There are other times I remember mission trips spent playing Bryan Adam's "Everything I do," working in clothes closets and food pantries, performing for talent shows and in musicals, going for the first and only time to Chris' house, playing basketball, and cheering for all the RA games, and more.
A couple of years after the Amy blabbermouth experience, Amy and Chris started dating.  I was so angry and hurt when I found this out.  She knew what this would to do me!  And surely he knew something about my crush by now!  It was during this time that the flame I had for Chris began to dim.  I started seeing other faults in him: smoking, drinking, rebelliousness, differing opinions, skipping school, etc.  It was also around this time that my brother, Jackson, and Chris were at odds with one another- fighting and arguing.  I took on other crushes, filled my notebook with other guys' code names and initials.  Chris was still on the list, but not on the top anymore.
When Chris' crush status dropped a bit, that's when I actually got to know the real him, but by then it was too late, we were already seniors, getting ready to graduate.
Actually, Chris ended up not graduating.  I was so upset about this.  I felt hurt and betrayed!  He'd been with me through everything, but he wasn'ts going to go through graduation with me.  He was so smart and he knew everything!  He got a 1375 on his SAT's, for goodness sake!
  I only got a 1100! And here I was graduating from high school and from the youth group- in a way without him.
That last summer was tough.  He still went on all the trips, but something was different, something had changed.  I was so sad to leave and let go of everything: church, home, friends, the youth group, and of Chris. 
I remember coming home from the mission trip thinking that this was the end - the end of an era.  We drove through the streets of Raleigh, my eyes welling with tears.  Chris was sitting in the bus seat in front of me.  (Amy draped by his side)  I (daringly-for me, that is) reached my hand in front of me and placed it on his shoulder and said something like "This is it, you know?"  He grabbed my hand and held on and said, "I know."  He held my hand through the next few turns to the church and when we arrived to the parking lot, he squeezed my hand, which to me felt like he was saying "It'll be ok."  I left the bus that day, letting Christopher go.
I went off to Boone, NC to go to college.  I told myself when I got there that I'd keep up with certain people.  Chris was one of the people on that list.  I wrote him letters from school telling him what was going on and how I was doing.  I kept on writing, but never received anything in return.  My sophomore year, I received a letter from Chris.  In it he wrote about how good and loyal of a friend I was and about how thankful he was for our friendship and the letters I sent.  I cherished the letter, read it a hundred times over, kept it in my journal.  I've written Chris off and on for 10 years and that letter is the only one I've ever received, but it is enough.
One last story...We had a lock in one time during which Chris was playing classical guitar.  I told him then and there that I wanted him to play at my wedding.  I laughed at my own boldness in even saying as much to him.  Years later, I got engaged.  One of the first orders of business for planning the wedding-get Chris to play and he did.  At the rehearsal dinner, as I went around the room, I introduced my guests to one another.  When I got to Chris, I decided to lay it all out on the line.  "This is Christopher," I said, "I was in love with him practically all my life."  Everyone giggled, thinking I was joking or something.  But I being for real and I think he knew it.  (and if he didn't, my other good friends were sitting with him to verify the facts.) That night, after everyone left, I stopped to talk to Matt.  He didn't seem shocked or amazed by what I had said.  It didn't phase him a bit.  He just smiled, gave me a hug, and carried his guitar out the door.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Migraine

We are supposed to be on break from Hyaets for two weeks.  This way, we can regroup, recenter, rest, and get some other things done.
I have a long list of things I need to get done during this time: plant new plants, research, strategic planning, budgeting, find a routine that works...
Instead, I wake up to find out our house mate thinks he brought bed bugs into his room IN OUR HOUSE and he's in great pain and needs us to go with him to the doctor. OH, and the great big Hyaets project that we have been assigned to work on during our break...well, the neighbor who promised to help out couldn't get it all done, so I am working this afternoon for a couple of hours on said project. These were not on my list. Neither is the migraine that I now have or the sick husband or the laundry someone piled on my bed or the dishes piled in the sink...or the strange smell in the Hyaets clubhouse...or the dog and his meds...or the dirty floor that was just swept and mopped yesterday...

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Memoir story #1(part 1): Chris

(name changed for my own sake, though everyone knows who it really is)

I really don't remember when Christopher came into my life. In fact, it is as if he's been there all along. Like a shadow on a sunny day or the smell of maple in October, Christopher has always been present. There at times when II've noticed and times when I have not.
Once, when I was rummaging through some old pictures at church, I came upon a polaroid of my three year old Sunday School class. There, standing around and on top of the toddler sliding board were many of my childhood buddies. Ty, Anna, Marcia, and I stood with others and smiled with big crooked smiles. Off to the side of our beaming group stood Christopher...grabbing his crotch with a big ole grin.
I was in highschool when I found the crotch-grabbing picture. I laughted at it for days and then decided to share my joy with everyone else in our youth group by posting it on the youth Sunday School bulletin board. No one else laughed as hard as I did over the photo. It seemed like everyone just brushed it off as a silly, cute, little shot. I, however, thought it was hilarious: early 80's clothes, grinning face, and hand between the legs. After a few weeks of posting, I quietly took the photo and placed it in my Bible. From there it made it home and eventually to a photo album.
This is how it has always been. I somehow ended up paying close attention to Christopher- what he's doing, who he's with, what he's wearing, what choices he's making- and everyone else seems not to notice or if they do notice, it oesn't seem as important to them as it did to me. It all started by virtue of us, me and Christopher, being the same age and in the same grade. We learned together, sang in the kids choirs together, ate together, and played together. I remember really noticing Matthew and identifying him as someone special and unique sometime in elementary school.
For a while, us kids would stay for lunch and discipleship training after Big church. Christopher was always the one who knew the answers to the questions in Discipleship Training. He said his parents read to him from the Bible. I wanted to know all the answers and stories too. I wanted a children's Bible like his and I wanted my parents to read it to me. Christopher was also the first one of us to get baptized. I wanna say that he got baptized when we were in the 4th grade, but it may have been even earlier. I wasn't ready to be baptized yet, but I sure did think that he was really cool, smart, and neat to have gone up to the front and all. I admired him for being so certain of himself, of baptism, and of the answers.
On the fourth of july, our church used to gather at Meredith College for swimming, recreation, and a big potluck picnic. It was so much fun to run and play and to be around all my friends celebrating together. For a few years, several of us girls would have a slumber party after the 4th of July picnic and fireworks.
I remember one 4 of July slumber party when I invited Hollis and Amy to spend the night. We stayed up almost all night talking about who we had a crush on. After much prodding, I finally confessed to the girls that I had had a crush on Christopher for years. Hollis, my lontime friend, already knew this, but it was new to Amy. I remember being nervous about talking about it and I remember hoping that nothing would get said to Christopher about it. I should have known better! The next week at church everyone was, it seemed, talking about me and my crush. I was so embarrassed! Christopher, or maybe a messenger- I don't remember- came up to me and asked if it was true. Too embarrassed amd scared to admit it, I denied my undying love for Christopher and went home sad and ashamed. That night, I spent a lot of time crying and wishing Amy was dead.
I likee Christopher so much that I memorized all sorts of details about him. Full name, birthdate, parents names, phone number. I memorized his phone number by putting the numbers to the tune "867-5309." I wrote his initials with mine all over my notebook. I gave him a code name, "blue eyes", so that I could write about him without anyone knowing. Only my closest friends knew and I didn't let them in on ALL of my secrets.
One of the most upsetting times that I ever got into trouble was because of Christopher. We were in children's choir rehearsal. I set next to Stuart. Stuart sat next to Christopher. Stuart was acting up disrupting rehearsal to get attention. Miss Pam, our leader, asked him to leave the room. She took him outside in the hallway to reprimand him for his behavior. While Stuart was getting talked to, I thought I'd be sneaky an dmove over one seat to sit next to my crush, hopint Miss Pam and Christopher would not notice the difference. When Miss Pam walked in the room, though, the first thing she did was notice! And I was in big trouble. She took me out in the hall...me-who never broke rules or got into trouble...and told me how disappointed she was in me. I was yet again so upset and embarassed that I hid in the women's robing bathroom and cried until I was red in the face and my mom had to come find me and splash water on my cheeks.
At some point around the beginning of middle schoo, Christopher decided that he would go by "Chris." This was a very difficult change for me. I had not been in love with a "Chris!" I had been in love with "Christopher." With the name change came other changes as well...Pink Floyd shirts, guitar strumming, and longer hair.
It was around this time that I witnessed Christopher's first ever mistake, in my eyes. We had graduated to the youth choir, of which my mom was director. One Wenesday night during rehearsal, "Chris" had come in late. (mistake #1) And he was wearing a hot pink shirt with RED umbro shorts (mistake #2). My mom always said that pink and red were tacky. I remember giggling to myself about his fashion faux pas and being amazed that Christoper,could commit such a heinous act.
In the seventh grade, our youth minister started the middle school retreat. About 20 of us when up to camp Caraway to spend time getting to know one another. I remember riding up to Caraway listening to Whitney Houston, Extreme, and Queen. It was on this trip that Christopher's guitar playing skills made their debut. I distinctly remember we were in the guys' cabin just hanging out trying to pass the time when Christopher got out his guitar and played "More than Words." I simply wanted to melt! I also wanted to sing along, to pretend as if we were a duo, which is what I thought we were meant to be. But, I didn't do either. I sat their listening and pretending that his playing was no big thing.
This trip was also the first experience that I had with Spin the bottle. The girls convinced Chris, Stuart, and Robert to play. Some of them knew I had a crush on Chris and others knew that Kathryn had a crush on Robert, so they started up the game hoping to play match maker. After a few turns and a few pecks, the stakes got higher and suggestions of time spent in the dark closet were thrown into the mix. It was at these mentionings that I made my quiet escape- scared and anxious to think of what might happen if I were paired with Chris in the closet: Would I be rejected? I don't even know how to kiss! What if we get caught by the chaperones? My scaredy cat chicken self took the fast escape route, but regretted it later.

Memoirs

In 2006, I decided to start writing my Memoirs. It kind of sounds funny to start your memoirs when you're a healthy 28 year old. But, I did. I wrote down a couple of stories in a three ring binder and set the notebook on a shelf so I could come back to it. After writing several stories, I stopped writing. I moved on to some other project. I pulled out the notebook today. Thought I'd type out the stories and post on the blog.

update

I want to get things done, but I'm exhausted.
I want to make things, but I'm in a rut.
My feet hurt, I need new shoes. I can't find the time to go to the store. I can't convince myself to spend the money.
I had to replace my new phone with another. I don't want to re-input all the info, apps, and good stuff. But now that I've become dependent on the phone, I need some of that stuff. (lists, contacts, email)
I need to exercise, lose weight. I'm not interested.
I want a free weekend-free space-free time-free house, one without children, without responsibilities, without accountability. Not for long. Just long enough. Not really possible.
I'm not in a bluesy place or a sad place. I almost feel lazy with a side of heavy.
We're supposed to get a two week break from Hyaets, but others are heaping responsibilities onto my plate. I'm full, people, I'm full. And looking at you as you're working hard and taking on more and more only serves to make me feel guilty and heavier.
We eat communally, we pray communally, we discern communally. Can't we rest communally too?

Sunday, August 28, 2011

On the road

Driving to see Nana. Maybe for the last time. Wanted to take the train, but Irene wouldn't let me.
It is my favorite time of day. Dusk in the summer. First, This American Life, then blasting my favorite cd.  Thanks to Molly for making it for me 7 or so years ago.  It makes me think of you.
Staying with an old friend tonight. Want to ask questions. Hope we get a chance to be us before the morning comes.

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Thursday, August 25, 2011

The last days

The last days of summer were filled. Very full.
School started today. Already one missed bus, ride given.
Neighborhood walk about after school. Reports good.
Group coming in the morning to help us recuperate. I love these people. They restore the home and the soul.
So tired, though.  Will I be able to give anything at all: attention, guidance, listening ear, energy?
Two weeks of break can't come fast enough. Half break, really. Still have another job, and children, and house, and, and, and.
I don't want to be that person, the one who responds to, "How are you?" With a grin and "busy" as a response.  Sadly, that's who I am at this moment. Like it or not.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The best thing to do with the best thing in life...

...is to give it away.
 
I got this quote from one of my all time favorite books, The Education of Little Tree.    I've been living by this quote, giving away the best things, pointing towards the best things, handing over the best things.  I'm wondering, though, does the quote have to apply to dreams?  Do I really have to give my dreams away?
 
I am a big dreamer.  I've got a list of things I think would be cool to accomplish, things I would love to see happen but I might not be able to make happen: The Thrifty Momma- the maternity clothing thrift store that utilizes donations from once-pregnant women and hires women from our neighborhood to run the business; Wheelie's- the restaraunt that serves meat and three type meals, but you can pick and choose what you want using a wheel-type dial of a menu; a yard that is beautiful and peaceful with an outdoor shower and no mosquitoes.  These are dreamy dreams that make me yearn and pine and sometimes draw and write. 
 
Some dreams I share with others, not wanting to give them totally away.  Just sharing.  We talk about these dreams together, think of what could be, make little plans in our heads. 
 
The best thing to do with the best thing in life is to give it away.
 
The dreamer I have been sharing with begins to feel a calling.  The dream, for them is becoming more of a reality, but it can't be a reality for me.  Not now, not hear, maybe not ever.  Do I have to give the dream away?  Can I give the dream away?  Should I?
 
I don't want to.  But I often don't want to give other good things away: a day to rascally children, the last sip of cold milk to the begging son, a piece of the chocolate I have stashed in the secret place.  I give them away anyway.  Because that's what I do.  That's what I'm supposed to do.  Right?  So what about dreams?  Do I have to let them go too?
 
 
 


 

Monday, August 22, 2011

A piece of my day

Breakfast meeting, bible study/sermon prep, drive home, eat, feed 20, take 20 on city bus, 2 chaperone's, age range of kids: 1-16, at park.

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Sunday, August 21, 2011

Cravings (no, I am not pregnant)


I don't get weird cravings, I get regular cravings. Things I almost always crave: chocolate, cheese, fizzy water, a cold glass of milk,  someone to talk to who will listen well and give desired feedback without a lot of coaching or work, Herdez salsa with lime chips, "real mail" in the mailbox, opportunities to make things, supplies for making things, interesting radio, shoes that make my feet feel good, a quiet moment, to be splashing my feet in cool river water.
I'll stop there. If I kept listing things, it'd just become my "faces" list, but this list is different. This is my craves list. There's a difference, I think.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Falling in love again

I have fallen totally and completely head over heels in love with my son. I thought I was in love when I first held him. I remember crying those first two weeks after he was born because I felt so attached and so overwhelmed with love. There's no way I would have guessed that my love for him would have been able to grow so much more.
But it has. At just three years old, this little boy has swept me off my feet.
Falling in love again is fun and exciting...and scary. I think everyone can list the fun part. The scary part is something like: will he love me this deeply in return? Will I do something to screw this up? Will something bad happen? If/when it does, how will I cope?
I try not to think about the scary part, but it is there.  Thankfully, the crazy busy-body little boy and his sweet brother, who I'm just getting to know, are good at disgracing me from my fear and overwhelming me with wonders and joy.

Happy birthday, Greggie!

Today is Greg's birthday. So, to celebrate, we did what every normal family does on a birthday. We took a field trip to Compare Foods Grocery store. 
We'd heard that Compare Foods had a good selection of Latin American goods and a great lunch counter, so we decided to give it a try with the hopes of also finding a Cuban espresso type coffee maker.  Score on all accounts!  The food was great. The store was stocked with all sorts of interesting things and we left with all the coffee supplies we needed!
Now, some of my blog readers (do I have any?) Might be surprised to read that our family wants anything to do with coffee.  Well, not too long ago, we went to a friend's house and she served Cuban coffee and Greg drank some. Since then, he's been hooked. Not hooked like the chain smoker coffee drinker stained tooth guy that we all know, but hooked like the one Cuban espresso every once in a while kind of guy. 
Maybe tomorrow morning Greg'll start the morning off saying, "Hey Joe, wanna cup of Joe?"

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Thursday, August 18, 2011

An update on the dog

Ok, so the day started off well. "Early", as JTJ decided to call her, took quickly to us. We fed her and gave her water and put her on our back porch for the morning. We took her out to the back yard to do her thing every two hours. She was very gentle and happy.
In the afternoon, I moved her to the bathroom so that we could go in and out to get ready for kids activities. "Early" needed to go outside before we left to take kids to the pool, so I asked Greg to take her. Now, I knew that the dog had a few days ago been picked up off the street by a neighborhood kid. I knew, too, that this same neighborhood kid came to my house on Sunday asking for scraps to feed his "new dog". Anyways, Greg took Early out. Neighborhood children saw Early and made a quick report to the neighborhood boy that we had his dog. (Great.)
While all that's happening, our community members come over to see our newly found dog. I barricade the kitchen and let Early run around in there for a few minutes so that she can get to know folks. After they were done seeing her, we put her back on the porch and went to the pool.
On the way to the pool, in order to ward off any speculation, Greg stopped at the neighborhood boy's house and let him know that we had the dog.
Fastforward 3 hours, we get home and put the boys down for a nap. We're in our room, talking about what to do with the dog. Greg doesn't like the idea of adopting this dog, but she seems neglected and we'd at least take better care of her than she's had already. I sort of like the idea of adopting the dog. We've been talking all day about how it almost felt like she was adopting us: following us in our walk, being so gentle and friendly, obeying our commands. Plus, I was sort of in love with the idea of doing something out of the ordinary, spontaneous, free.
As we're talking about all the possibilities and we're starting to settle into the idea of maybe taking her to the vet and getting her checked out and going from there, there's a knock at the door. Boys are napping, we're talking, we decide not to answer. More knocks. Then, we see three people coming up our back steps.
It is a community member, the neighborhood boy, and the neighborhood boy's very intimidating Dad. Now Early is barking on the back porch and our dog, Matthew, is barking inside. The back porch door is locked and so is our back door. Greg unlocks it and asks the three people to come back to the front of the house. Our community member replies emphatically, "Greg, it is THEIR dog!"
At that moment, my heart begins to sink. I hear the boy and Dad saying that they are going to take the dog home. We have no time and no way we can argue or debate or discuss the matter. At this point, we've gotta wake up JTJ from his nap so he can say goodbye to "Early".
We wake JTJ up and he says goodbye. He cries a little, but takes it pretty well. I, on the other hand, don't take it as well. I'm crushed. I'm sad because we're having to give the dog up without really deciding for ourselves if that's what we're going to do. I'm sad because this stray dog is being claimed by someone who I wonder will be able to take care of it. I'm sad because I was going to have to lose the gleamy eyed feeling of doing something so spontaneous and fun and free. I'm sad because it feels like my time, decision, house, and family has just been invaded upon and taken under siege.
Before "Early" leaves, I stop the neighborhood boy and let him know that I didn't like the way he approached the matter, that I wished that he thought more thoroughly about how his actions would affect other people. (Me, JTJ, Early) Then, I went inside and closed the bathroom door and had a good cry. Silly, I know. I'd only known this dog for 9 hours and I was sad to see it go.
Greg was still chatting with the community member, so I went around the corner for comfort, shed a few tears, and went home.
When JTJ woke back up from his nap, he didn't seem phased. I, however, can't get the whole scenario out of my head. At this point, I don't really wan the dog back (necessarily), I want the feeling back. The feeling of doing something free, fun, loving, and outrageous the just for the sake of it feeling.
Not related to Early, but related to the situation, I'm still upset about how the whole thing went down. I just wish we'd had time to work it all out. I wish we'd had time to talk things out, amongst ourselves and our neighbor. I wish we'd had time to say a proper goodbye. I wish the community member and neighbors would respect the boundaries of our home and lives so that we could have that time and so that we could have the physical space not to be invaded upon.
Oh well, enough "I wishing". We've got a dog, one that one of our interns would accuse us of not appreciating, so it is not like we needed another.
Goodbye Early Girl. Take Care. It was fun while it lasted.

What are we thinking=?UTF-8?B?Pw==?=

Morning walk. A stray dog joins us for the whole loop. She has two different colored eyes. She's sweet. Jtj named her "early". Are we really considering keeping her? Somebody remind us what a stupid idea this is...and fast!

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Jealous

Greg gets on the phone tonight and tells stories and laughs with his best friend (s).  I went to dinner without Greg, But with a couple of friends. The two I was with are good friends and I am sort of new to the friend group. I listened and laughed as they updated each other. I soaked up every second of fun and friendship I could. At one point I felt myself getting choked up because I was enjoying our visit so much. Listening to the silly chatter and serious moments and just being there with those people was a real treat, one I do not get often. I got choked up, too, because these moments are so rare. I don't have real intimate and regular visits with friends. I was almost sad at the depth of relationship I was witnessing between the two friends, a level at which I rarely participate. I found myself listening intently, but also wanting so badly to break in with all the stored up stories and topics I have been holding onto for such a moment as this. After listening and engaging in their updates and conversation, I couldn't help but spew out all the things I wanted to say. It was embarrassing, really. "I went to a wedding this weekend and...my grandmother has gone into hospice care...I learning how to make scratch off cards, my grandfather had a heart attack last night..." The words I'd been holding onto came spilling out. The girls listened and engaged with me as best they could, but they probably took me for a little loopy, what with dumping everything on them at once.
We had to wrap up our visit pretty soon after my spewing. I walked away with dreams of visiting with one another again, and soon.

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Sunday, August 14, 2011

a quick review

about my week...at a glance.

Preached again. First time in three weeks.
Went to a wedding by myself. Only felt awkward a couple of times.
Very very down on my body size. MUST pick back up on excersizing.
Baby boy is sick. Sounds Wheezie. It is kindof funny, but not.
House is much easier to clean with 3 less people, but sure do miss their help.
Front yard was mulched. Looks much better. Feels much better. Much more work to go.
Groups came to help out this week. They worked hard. I was glad for their contributions.
Though I appreciate help, this week when we don't have help, it also means we don't have to be held accountable. After ten weeks of strict accountability, it is nice to have a little relief from that.
Want to make things. Need some supplies. Need inspiration.
Want to hang out with friends. Need friends. :)
Cursing the mosquitoes. They keep me out of the garden even when it is nice outside.
Wore pants just so I could sit in the hammock for a minute. Interrupted, though, by a phone call and neighbor's need. That's ok. Hammock was nice while it lasted.
Best food of the week: Wine tonight, donated potato salad and deviled eggs. I'm a sucker for deviled eggs.
Getting excited about the fall at church.
Dog has his summer itch. Annoying.
Sneaking too many mini M&M's out of the freezer. Who put them there anyway? Thanks a lot, temptor!
Miss talking to my grandmother. Ready for her to come back home.
My Nana is likely going into Hospice soon. Gotta figure out when to get to Raleigh.
Supposed to go to Boone on Friday. Want to go. Need to go. Need to go to Raleigh too.

That'll do for an update today.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Making earrings

I have been an earring making queen these past couple of weeks!



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Room to think...thinking about rooms

The summer is 1 1/2 weeks over!  This means I can finally think again!
 
Summers, for me, are about survival.  I don't have the typical parenting woes of "what will I do with my children while they are out of school this summer."  Nope.  My woes sound more like "What will I do now that I have everyone's children at my home while they are out of school."  Every day, we feed neighborhood kids and provide some kind of activity for them.  This year, we had the help of 5 interns, but that doesn't mean my job is done for me.  Nope.  I end up juggling new job, parenting job, Hyaets job, and kid rangling all summer long.
 
Did I mention I only have 1 1/2 weeks to go?
 
With the end in sight, I am able to think.  Most other times of the year, I am so overwhelmed with all the ideas I have in my head that I get stuck.  Right now, though, I am welcoming the new ideas happily.  I've got room for new ideas at the moment and that makes me very happy.
 
Among many of the things I've been thinking about is home decor.  Yes, I have been thinking about more "important" things like my new position as Pastor of a church and how to be a better parent.  But for one moment, allow my the luxury of talking about something as frivolous as home decor.
 
First off, I want a Happy Chair  http://www.shawnarobinson.com/
 
Secondly, I want to repaint my dining room. Grey, teal, aqua?  Total color combo: plum, grey, blue, teal, yellow, red
I want to re-do the color combo in the living room to brown, lime green, aqua, scarlet, and plum
Playroom: The color combo is my favorite in the house right now: red, lime, yellow, brown.
 
I need to do some problem solving so that we can be a bit more organized.  Especially in the bedrooms.
 
It is fun thinking about things again.  Glad I have the room!
 
 


 
 

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Painting in the window

I found this painting in a store window.  I really like it. The reds and yellows are not paint, they are beads! That's the coolest part.
And to top things off, I caught a glimpse of this painting just after I enjoyed a chocolate covered waffle cone filled with turtle ice cream at Elizabeth's creamery. Yum!

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Friday, August 5, 2011

Rainy day

Pouring down rain. Some flooding in town. What better activity for the 13 kids we had than going bowling? City bus to uptown, rushing to catch it = no jacket, no umbrella. Wet baby. Fancy strike city uptown welcomed the crazies well. I chased wet baby (dry pair of clothes on him) and kids played, shared one big pizza, pretended to play arcade games. Running back through the rain to the transit. Several folks at the transit looked out of place. A quick glance and I figured out that the were evangelizing the transit. I called out to greg to tell him my discovery and was confronted by my very own gospel sharer. From TN, he said there were 12 who were there to tell the truth to the people of Charlotte. (Come on bus! Where are you?)
Yes, I do have a personal relationship with Jesus. Yes this is a group. Yes, they know jesus too.  For goodness sakes, ok, I'm a pastor, now can I go?
Bus comes. We get on. Good view of the flooding.
Home. Boys playing in mud. Bath. Pinky's for dinner.

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Thursday, August 4, 2011

Pool day

Pool days make me nervous. Lots of neighborhood kids and no lifeguard. Today, there were 20. Crazy!
Two more pool days this summer.

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Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Dose

Too tired in the afternoon. Always having to "take 15". Interns gone to Discovery Place with neighborhood kids. Feeling slightly guilty about not going. JTJ wanted to go, cried when he couldn't. To balance things,  I committed to cooking and leadership of devos tonight. House is a wreck. Greg is a wreck because the house is a wreck. Can't do it all, be it all, fix it all.
Taking a quiet 15 before the guilt convinces me not to. After 15, i'll get up. Clean. Cook. Straighten. Parent mine and other's children. Straighten and clean some more.
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Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Zinnias from the garden

The best thing (or at least one of the best) in our garden right now is the zinnias!

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I'm recommitting to the blog

Don't know what I'm promising...a word a day, a phrase a week, a paragraph every other week?

Don't know what I'm promising, but I'm going to recommit.

Not for others. Just for me. An outlet. Expression. Thoughts out there.

Not all pretty. Not all complainy.

It is what it is. I'm returning to the blog.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Lord, Have mercy

Tears have been falling, righteous anger is rising. Things in the neighborhood are very tough right now. Please pray and after you pray, please take steps to live your prayer.

For S.S, C.W., V.R., R.K.

Sermon post: Luke 24:13-25

The Prayer this morning will be both visual and spoken, so as we pray, I would like to ask you to keep your eyes open.



The Lord is with you.

And also with you.

Let us pray.



I lay out this cloth to signify that this place, this space, is holy and set apart. This marks an altar to God. God, we come to your holy place, in awe of who you are…you are holy, you are mighty, you are full of glory, worthy of praise and honor. You are our provider, healer, comforter, peacemaker, and guide. We come to you this morning, full: full of images and words, full of heartbreak for the world around us. This week alone, we have been witness to so much pain, grief, and scorn. We can no longer turn a blind eye to the injustice and oppression in our world, the wars between nations and peoples, the hatred tearing your children apart. All we know to do, God, is to lay these things down at your altar. That’s all we know to do. And so we lay them down at your Holy feet….



Place Newspapers or papers on cloth that say : Osama Bin Laden, War, Poverty, Violence, Politics, Natural Disasters





Mother’s day flowers that look sort of like something that’d be on a head stone



Money, grenade, gun



We call on you to let your Kingdom come.



Papers placed on cloth saying; Peace, Light, Justice, Truth, comfort, Joy, Reconciliation, Kingdom of God on Earth.



Come and bring your peace. Come, bring your light. Come, bring your Justice. Come, bring your truth. Come, bring your comfort. Come, bring your joy. Come, make us reconciled to one another. Come, make us your people once more. May your Will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven.



We pray this in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.



Choir Amen.







Luke 24:13-35



(While taking everything off of the communion table table)



There are times in our lives when all we want to do…all we can do is get away. Toss out the junk. Get rid of the mess. Pack up our bags. Get out of town. Go. Find some place safe. Some place away. Some kind of clean slate. Some kind of get away. For if we don’t…if we don’t change up the pace, have a chance to breathe, count to ten, take a walk around the block, get in the car and drive…if we don’t escape or find respite or make room in our lives for something else…if we don’t get out, get up, or just get…if we don’t, we’ll be likely to blow.



(While placing the cloth on the table (the one that signified the altar earlier in the prayer))

More often than not, when we get to that point, whether we know it or not, our escape is really a search. A search for something Holy…something whole…something peaceful…something right…something comforting….something refreshing and renewing. Something bigger and greater than ourselves…something that can set us free.



(While placing the papers from the prayer onto the table)

We go searching for something that will set us free from the world around us…the stress that has built up… the rut we’ve gotten ourselves into…set us free from our frustrations at work….our family conflicts and drama…set us free from our pain…set us free from the suffering we see in the world, the injustice we hear about in the news and at the office. We go searching for something that will fill the void left by loss of hope, loss of faith, loss of life.



(Crouch under the table and pretend it is a tent, holding the top of the table up with my arms)

Some of us bunker down in our houses. We create a fort, a shelter for retreat…we batten down the hatches, tie our tent stakes down and hide out until we see the light of day.



(Get up and start walking away)

Others of us run away…we might go by ourselves or we might grab a friend and go…either way, we’re getting out of dodge.



(Stop moving and just talk for a minute)

That’s what the two were doing that day on the path from Jerusalem to Emmaus. They’d seen and had enough. Three days had passed and Jesus was dead. These two, with heads down, ready to throw in the towel, they decided to take a long walk to the next town to clear their heads. On the way, all they could talk about was what had happened…Rehashing the events that led up to the trial and crucifixion…going over every detail again and again.



It was on this journey that they encountered Jesus, the Risen Christ.



Current Events: war, economics, unemployment, violence, oppression, militarism, nationalism, killing, prejudice, selfishness, and greed mixed with what seems to be crisis after crisis in my own neighborhood: kids going to jail, power getting cut off, neighbors fighting, people hungry and scared and lonely…all this mess is just about to drive me mad. People have gone mad and they’re about to take me with them. It is almost too much to bear. I’m about ready to hide or run…one or the other. Aren’t you?



Jesus meets the two on the road, but they do not recognize them. They don’t see that it is him. Oblivious as they are, there is something left of them that is still pure. They extend a hospitable invitation and invite this man to walk with them. Along the way, they start talking. Sometimes conversation, honest and intimate communication, is some of the best healing medicine. They walk and talk and listen as Jesus opens up the faith stories and scripture to them.



(Start setting the dinner table: (plates, cups, forks, napkins, chalice, plate with bread))

Before long, they had come to the place they had set out for. And when they got there, they extended yet another hand of hospitality to the man who walked the road with them. When they got to Emmaus, they said, ‘Stay with us. It is almost night. You’ll be welcome here. You’ll be more comfortable here. Come and eat. Stay.” And Jesus Did.



(Act this part out)

When the dinner was ready, Jesus sat down at the table with them. Then, he took the bread and blessed it. Then he broke it. It was in the breaking of the bread that their eyes were finally opened and they recognized him. They remembered. They remembered…



(Place Cross and Candles back on table….)



They remembered and recognized him and he vanished from their sight.



Looking back on the journey, they recognized that it was Jesus who had been with them all along, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he was talking to us on the road, while he was opening the scriptures to us?”



In that very hour, they got up and walked back to where they came from, 7 miles back to Jerusalem in the dark…once they got there, they immediately found the other friends of Jesus and told them what had happened. “The Lord has risen indeed, and he has appeared to Simon! It is true! He is alive! We saw him! Here’s what happened. He broke the bread with us and opened our eyes. We remembered!”



Fellow Journeyors on the road, fellow pilgrims and searchers….Remember…Christ is Risen! He is Alive! It is true! The bread has been broken before us. Remember and be made new. Remember.



Now, run back…go quickly….and tell the others…show the others…demonstrate to others…He is Alive!



.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Things I love lately

I don't spend much money, but I do shop. I go onto etsy.com and pretend that the world is mine for the taking. Everything I love, I place into my "favorites" file so I can go back and enjoy it any time I want to. I thought I'd share some of those favorites with you.

remember

I am trying to write some material for the Hyaets Lenten Devotional Guide. One of the stories I want to include is one that I've already written in a blog long ago. So, in an effort to "cheat" I thought I'd go back and find the blog and do a little cut and paste job for the devo guide. Well, I couldn't find it. But, I did find a lot of other stuff: things I'd forgotten about, things I'd left behind.

I've been beating myself up lately about not blogging or journaling. I'm not doing nearly as much as I'd like to. I think about writing a lot, but when I actually sit down to do it, it takes up so much time and thought that I quit easily. I think writing a sermon once a week is a lot of work. For some reason, though, writing a blog is harder and more difficult for me.

I sure do like going back to read about things, though.

For those of you who want to remember along with me, the link to the old blog still functions: http://hyaets.org/blogs/index.php?blog=6

enjoy

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Posting a few sermons

I've decided to post a few sermons on the blog. I've been posting all of them in the notes on my facebook profile. I've enjoyed the creative process of writing and preaching these sermons. We're about to step into the Sermon on the Mount texts.

I haven't yet found myself wanting to be very creative with the Sermon on the Mount. What I really want to do is just read the text and talk about it and read it again and talk about it. I feel like the scripture speaks for itself and that I don't really need to or want to add much to it. I might feel differently after a couple of weeks of not-so-creative sermonizing. But for now, I'm happy just to listen to the words on the page come alive through the Holy Spirit.

If you're itching for a more "creative" sermon, there are some posted here on the blog and others on my facebook profile.

I hope you'll enjoy.

A Daddy's Dream sermon Matthew 1:18-25

The Expectant Father: “The first major questions you and your partner will face after learning you are pregnant are Where are we going to have the baby?, Who is going to help us deliver it?, and How much is it all going to cost?...” How will we share the news with our parents? What names do I like? Will it be a boy or a girl? If it is a boy, will I name him after my grandfather? What will we do for a nursery?



These may be the first major questions for most expectant fathers, but not for Joseph. Joseph’s story is quite unique, unlike any other soon-to-be Daddy I know. Father Ron Rolheiser tells us that, “The background, in so far as we can reconstruct it, to the relationship between Joseph and Mary would have been this: The marriage custom at the time was that a young woman, essentially at the age of puberty, would be given to a man, usually several years her senior, in an arranged marriage by her parents. They would be betrothed, technically married, but would not yet live together or begin [intimate] relations for several more years. The Jewish law was especially strict as to the couple remaining celibate while in the betrothal period. During this time, the young woman would continue to live with her parents and the young man would go about setting up a house and an occupation so as to be able to support his wife once they began to live together.


Joseph and Mary were at this stage of their relationship, legally married but not yet living together, when Mary became pregnant. Joseph, knowing that the child was not his, had a dilemma: If he wasn't the father, who was? In order to save his own reputation, he could have demanded a public inquiry and, indeed, had Mary been accused of adultery, it might have meant her death. However, he decided to "divorce her quietly", that is, to avoid a public inquiry which would leave her in an awkward and vulnerable situation.”



And then, Joseph has a dream.



A dream, people. Not a paternity test, not a tangible messenger, not a letter…a dream. People have all sorts of crazy dreams. I used to have this recurring dream where I’d be in the meat aisle of the grocery store and my hands would start shrinking as I got closer to the packaged hamburger. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had that dream. But I haven’t declared never to set foot into the grocery store again and I don’t wring my hands every time I see packaged hamburger. The dream was a dream, it wasn’t real.



Dreams, in our culture, are often discounted. Most folks reject them as no more than strange brain waves processing the day before and preparing for the day ahead.



Joseph’s dream, it was something different. An angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in this dream and told him not to be afraid, to take Mary as his wife, and that the child inside of her was from the Holy Spirit. Our God chose to strangely speak to Joseph by whatever means necessary, a dream, for revelation.



And this is who our God is, the one who does strange things to reveal Godself to us…one who becomes human and invites a respectable man to receive even this supernatural baby and the child’s mother as his wife.

Upon receiving this revelation, he agreed to take Mary home as his wife and to father the child as his own. He spares Mary of embarrassment and shame and chooses to provide a place for this child to be born and raised.



Joseph takes in this baby that isn’t even his!



Some of us may have had a hard time coming to terms with the issues of parenthood. Having a baby, raising a child, is no easy task. It involves sleepless nights, lots of messes to clean up, diaper changing, potty training, trips to the doctor, bills from the doctor, disciplining, arguments, decisions on schooling, and more.



And Joseph, after he had that dream, agreed to take it all on. And this was no ordinary child, this was to be the a child conceived from the Holy Spirit, a boy named Jesus who will save his people from their sins, a baby named Emmanuel which means “God with us”. You or I, looking at Joseph’s situation might not choose the same way. In fact, some of us might think he was a little crazy. That dream did a number on him!



Who is this Joseph, that he could agree to such a huge responsibility?



This story in Matthew 1, shows us that Joseph is a devout believer, “deeply faithful to everything within his religious tradition, and yet at the same time open to a mystery beyond both his human and religious understanding.” (Rolheiser)



When God broke into Joseph’s life in a new and previously unimaginable way, Joseph welcomed him in. Joseph dealt with what seemed an impossible divine conception with obedience and hospitality. “In essence what Joseph teaches us is how to live in loving fidelity to all that we cling to humanly and religiously, even as we are open to a mystery of God that takes us beyond all the categories of our religious practice and imagination,” writes Rolheiser.



John Foley, writer for the Center of Liturgy at St. Louis University says, “Joseph was a good man. He already had a storehouse of trust in God’s love. He did not experience this storehouse as broken into, shattered or pulled to pieces by the dream. Instead the message fit right into the design of Joseph’s life with God. And so he followed.”



With risks and diapers and sleepless nights and all, he received the baby, Emmanuel, God with us, into his home and into his arms.



What a beautiful picture of extravagant hospitality, welcoming this stranger who in this case is the baby Christ Child. Author, Christine Pohl writes,



“Offering [hospitality] welcome is basic to Christian identity and practice. For

most of the church’s history, faithful believers located their acts of

hospitality in a vibrant tradition in which needy strangers, Jesus,

and angels were welcomed and through which people were

transformed. But for many people today, understandings of

hospitality have been reduced to Martha Stewart’s latest ideas for

entertaining family and friends and to the services of the hotel and

restaurant industry. As a result, even Christians miss the

significance of hospitality and view it as a mildly pleasant activity

if sufficient time is available….A quick review of Jesus’ life and ministry finds hospitality at the center. Jesus is both guest and host, dependent on others for

welcome and startlingly gracious in his welcome to outsiders,

seekers, and sinners. Meals were central to Jesus’ ministry and a

shared meal soon became the center point of Christian worship.

Hospitality is a lens through which we can read and understand

much of the gospel, and a practice by which we can welcome

Jesus himself.”



Joseph was one of the first to offer hospitality and welcome…. to Mary, even at the risk of his own reputation and standing in the community…And then to welcome the baby Jesus into his life and raise him as his own… that is faithful, that is obedience, that is a willingness to being open to a God who works in mysterious and out of the ordinary ways, that is trust in God, that is an amazing act of hospitality!



Hear this poem written by J. Janda, author of In Embrace:

Joseph

Who

Loved as his own

What

Was not his

Nor

Could ever be his

But

Whom he protected

And

Watched grow so

Contradiction

Could

Bloom in mystery

And scatter blood seed

To

Root in despair

And blossom white

As his staff of lilies



UCC Minister, Kate Huey gives us some helpful questions for reflection: “In what ways do we need to listen to the still-speaking God for our instructions, too, as Joseph did so long ago? In what ways do we need to strike out in new directions, to persist in opening our doors and our hearts rather than seek righteousness, in looking forward instead of back? What dreams do we have of something new and different and daunting? What hope longs to come to fruition?” (UCC) “ What does it mean to you, to our church, to the Body of Christ, that God reaches out to guide Joseph into such an act of radical hospitality, receiving a child not his and a woman pregnant not by him as his own?” (Methodist GBOD)



May we, like Joseph, let the Lord enter in. May we rejoice at the prospect of having God among us. And may we, like Joseph, recognize and accept the overwhelming and splendid responsibility of living in the presence of Emmanuel, God with us.



Amen

The Peace that Passes All Understanding sermon Isaiah 11:1-10

Peace is so much. It is too much for a sermon. Can’t be explained. Mysterious, Divine.

Peace is small, like feelings of calm and moments of quiet.

Peace is strong, like beating swords into plowshares and choosing discussion rather than destruction.

Peace is big, like wholeness, Shalom.



Shalom…God’s peace….peaceable kingdom…looks like the wolf living with the lamp, the leopard lying down with the kid, the cow and bear grazing together, a baby reaching up to play into the mouth of a cobra, and a toddler having a tea party with a viper.



The peaceable kingdom that Isaiah describes is almost too abnormal for us to believe. In her reflections on the peaceable kingdom, minister and writer, Kate Huey writes,



“The promises are astounding and perhaps even unbelievable: "the order of nature" that we all learned about in science class, the violence of predators that we came to accept as natural, will be overturned. The rules of life will be changed, bent in the direction of gentleness and peace, not just any peace, but shalom. "Shalom," Walter Brueggemann says, "is creation time, when all God's creation eases up on hostility and destruction and finds another way of relating" (Peace). Things are going to go back to the way they were originally created, the way things were meant to be. "This poem is about the impossible possibility of the new creation!" We are told, he says, that "the old practice of the big ones eating the little ones is not the wave of the future….The rightly governed world will indeed be detoxified, no more a threat to the poor, the meek, the children, the lamb, the kid. The new world will indeed be safe for the vulnerable" (Isaiah 1-39, Westminster Bible Companion).”



God’s peace is so strange, abstract, and rare in our broken world that I’m not sure any of us would often recognize it when we saw it. The great bigness of it looks like the image given to us in scripture, but it also looks like the little glimmer of wholeness we experience every now and again. Even if we wanted to be peacemakers, would we know what to do and who or what to look for?



I believe there are several very important elements that characterize Divine Peace.



First, I’d like to suggest that God’s peace has something to do with a ruler. “and a little child shall lead them,” says Isaiah. Minister and writer, Safiyah Fosua says,



“…under God’s promised new ruler, springing from the lineage of Jesse, everyone and everything in creation could live in peace with one another, posing no threat to any. The necessary precondition for this kind of peace to emerge was a promised ruler who would act with justice and righteousness, judging with particular care to ensure the poor received justice and their oppressors would not stand. So characterized by righteousness and justice, as well as devotion to God would this ruler be, that the prophet says he wears righteousness as a belt around his waist, faithfulness as a belt around his loins.”



God’s promised ruler is characterized by the kind of righteousness that is radical, changing this world’s order into the divine order, molding the chaos we have become accustomed to into the peacefulness of the kingdom of God.



I remember hearing about a ruler like that, someone who turned things up on their heads and revealed God’s kingdom to the blind. “The righteousness Jesus offered,” says John Donahue, “the love he proclaimed – was too radical, too inclusive, too dangerous to survive without creating chaos for the status quo – then or now. “



Isaiah didn’t know of a man named Jesus. Jesus had not come into the world yet. But, Isaiah proclaimed a God of peace, even in a world of injustice. He foretold of a righteous leader who would not put up with wickedness and inequity.



As we seek to be peacemakers, we must look toward the righteous ruler the Prince of Peace. One who, as Donahue writes, “ is strong an d mighty in battle, all right – but the battle in which he is engaged is a battle over fear and the weapons he employes are the weapons of mass reconciliation; truth and justice, peace and love.”



Secondly, I’d like to suggest that living into God’s peace has a lot to do with repentance. Much of the book of Isaiah is about repentance: Isaiah Chapter one:



Hear, O heavens, and listen O earth; I reared children and brought them up, but they have rebelled against me…children who deal corruptly, who have forsaken the Lord, who have despised the Holy One of Israel… Why do you continue to rebel?...your country lies desolate, your cities are burned with fire… it is desolate, as overthrown by foreigners…Hear the word of the Lord…listen to the teaching of our God…I have had enough of burnt offerings of rams…I am weary of your festivals…Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean; remove the evil of your doings from before my eyes; cease to do evil, learn to do good; seek justice, rescue the oppressed, defend the orphan, plead for the widow…though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be like snow; through they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool. If you are willing and obedient, you shall eat the good of the land, but if you refuse and rebel, you shall be devoured by the sword; for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.



The Peaceable kingdom is a place of great transformation, a place where humble repentance is required. “Professor Mary Hinkle Shore writes that humility will prove stronger then the military might of any empire.” The kind of humble repentance that Isaiah describes begins with cleansing, removing evil from our doings. But, it does not stop there. Repentance also includes action: “learn to do good, seek justice, rescue the oppressed.” (Is 1)



“One is reminded of Jesus [here], who wasted no energy on the legions of the Roman Empire, but kept his attention on the sick, the marginalized, the broken, and exerted his power on their behalf.” (Shore) The Peaceable Kingdom of God does not allow for people to hurt or destroy one another. It is a state in which the “earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea.” (Is 11:9) The Message version of this scripture puts it this way, “The whole earth will be brimming with knowing God-Alive, a living knowledge of God ocean-deep, ocean-wide.” The repentant remnant will be recovered and restored to the peaceable realm of God.



Lastly, and possibly most importantly, when we are looking for the peace of God, we must remember that it is a peace that passes all understanding. It is supernatural, beyond what we can imagine or fathom. Bigger than us. Greater than our powers. Belonging to God. Not of this world alone. “In his book, Peace, Walter Bruggemann encounters the promises [of peace] very personally: ‘Un heard of and unimaginable! All these images of unity sound to me so abnormal that they are not worth reflecting on. But then I look again and notice something else. The poet means to say that in the new age, these are the normal things. And the effect of the poem is to expose the real abnormalities of life, which we have taken for granted. We have lived with things abnormal so long that we have gotten used to hem and we think they are normal.’” (Huey)



To seek the peaceable kingdom is a daring adventure. One in which we hope for a “new normal” in the midst of old status quo. The adventure of following righteous ruler who begins his leadership with the miracle of a virgin born baby lying in a animal feeding trough, sleeping with cows and sheep, lit by the night light of a great star in the sky, and listening to the lullabies of angels overhead. An adventure that calls us to be cleansed in the way of Christ at the waters of the Jordan, to take up our cross and follow the one who took notice of the gave sight to the blind man and healing to the pleading woman. This Advent adventure of peace requires us to pray for our enemies and welcome the stranger into our midst. The Peaceable “new normal” sits us at the table with sinners, prostitutes, tax collectors, and criminals and gives us one piece of bread and one cup from which to eat and drink and share together.



The table is set, the ruler is reigning, may we seek to be cleansed and take action toward humble repentance so that we too may be restored to the Peaceable- God With Us- Kingdom. In the name of Emmanuel, Amen.

Help Wanted sermon Hebrews 12:1-12

An organization recently posted an ad in the paper for the position of Senior Manager. The Ad read, Help Wanted:

Job Title: Senior Manager/Director

Job Description: This is an ideal opportunity for an experienced marketing professional, someone who can lead a very talented team. Responsibilities will include defining and executing a strategy for the team, day-to-day management, designing campaigns around customer needs, research, statistic analysis, creating published works including growth and flow charts, planning and executing, budget analysis, cost management research and implementation, creation of legal contracts, strategic development towards measurable goals, and ongoing campaign management. Prior experience with management and marketing is desirable. We are seeking a highly motivated, analytical, and intellectually curious individual who wants to join and learn from a world-class company. If you pride yourself on being both creative and analytical, an active problem solver and a team player, then this is an opportunity to launch a fast-paced and rewarding career in a cutting edge field. Requirements: BA/BS degree with a minimum 3.3 GPA, some substantive work or university experience involving numerical analysis, some prior experience with monitoring and controlling projects, familiarity with Microsoft Excel or other analytical tools, 7+ years of marketing experience, 2+ years of experience managing direct reports, creative and analytical mindset, strong command of written English.



And like us, our ad in the paper received a lot of responses. Calls came in what seemed like once every 5 minutes. “Hello, my name is such and such. I am calling about the ad in the paper. I have sent my resume and cover letter via email as instructed. I was calling to make sure you received it. Could you tell me a bit more about the position and the hiring process?” The Human Resources department met to go through the 200+ resumes that were sent. After much deliberation, and honestly- quite a bit of laughter and tales of applicants, the organization narrowed it down to a handful of candidates.



Each candidate was asked to come in for an interview. Each of the candidates had some great qualities. One was very charming, knew just what to say and when to say it. One had a good balance of confidence and humility, self motivated and a team player. Another was really smart, had gone to a great school and knew all sorts of interesting information. All of them had the skills listed in the advertisement. They were experienced at strategy and analysis. They knew how to create budgets, write contracts, form policies and procedures for obtaining goals. They even knew a thing or two about statistics and cost management. Happy with the selection of candidates, they sent a representative of HR team to speak the Boss about their findings.



“Boss, we’ve found several really good potential managers here. In fact, they are so good that we’re not sure which of them to call back for a second interview. Would you take a look at their profiles and our notes and tell us what you think?”



They handed the boss a tall stack of papers. The boss took a look at the papers. Then, the boss handed the papers back and said, “These are all very interesting candidates. I like this one here and here, but in all honesty I’m not sure that any of them have exactly what we need in this position. There seems to be something missing from each of them. What I’d like for you to do is start over and see if you can come up with a better candidate.



So, with their heads hanging, the HR team went back to the drawing boards and started at square one. This time, they posted the ad in several publications: a highly renowned magazine, several websites, the local paper, and a broader based paper. 100s of resumes came in. The HR team scoured them, in search of just the right person to be manager. After quite a bit of digging and a lot of late nights and coffee, the HR team finally narrowed down the search to one candidate.



This time, they all went to the boss to present the candidate.

“Boss, this one is the one. You name it, this one’s got it: strategic, planner, financial guru, logical and rational, the perfect person to monitor and control projects and manage day to day happenings.” They handed the paperwork to the boss and even went so far as to show the boss a promo video on the candidate.



“I like this one. You have worked hard and have been diligent in finding a candidate that meets the requirements described in the advertisement. I’ve been thinking long and hard about what was missing in the other candidates and your work here has been a good attempt at filling that void, but I have to say...there’s still something missing.”



The HR team was shocked! “Are you kidding? We’ve worked for weeks to find the perfect candidate to be manager. We came up with a great job description. We ran an ad in all the well known publications. We poured over resumes. We spent weeks searching and researching. We’ve come to you with THE best candidate. And you say there’s still something missing? Well, at this point, we’re at a loss. We have done all we can do until you give us some more guidance as to what you are looking for.”



The boss took a file from his desk and handed it to the team. “As I said, I’ve been doing some thinking and I think I’ve figured out what’s missing. I think we’ve been taking the wrong approach here. I want us to regroup a bit, maybe take a look at the job description and see if it can be tweaked to better fit the needs of our organization. I’ve done some research and I’ve put together a few ideas. In this file, you’ll find a more full description of what I’m looking for.”



The team took the file and, with grumbling, left the boss’ office. After a much needed breather, the team gathered in the conference room so that they could go over the boss’ file. The team leader tossed to file at the intern, “You open it!” And so, the intern opened the file. Inside was this note:



Dear team,

In our search for the perfect manager, we have come up short. I believe the perfect steward for our organization is out there. Maybe we need to take a moment to reconsider the requirements for such a person. Below, you will find my recommendations:



* What we’ve been looking for is a person who looks good, will represent our company well. I’d like for us to reconsider this as a priority. So what if the candidate wears birkenstocks or has dreads? In order to find the perfect candidate, we may have to let go of our preference for business suits and shiny loafers.
* We’ve been searching for someone who is financially responsible and can manage and balance a tight budget. I want us to think outside the box a bit on this. I’d like for us to begin looking for someone who knows what it is like to have nothing, maybe even someone who has been homeless, someone who isn’t too proud to rely on the resources of others. I’d like for us to consider a candidate who can carry nothing but the clothes on his back and the shoes on his feet, but still manage to live in abundance.
* We’ve been advertising for someone who is savvy in statistics, strategic planning, and cost management. Let’s choose to be out of the norm and find someone who thinks it is more important to give things away than it is to store things up for ourselves. Someone who wages against conventional odds, someone who is resourceful enough to create something out of nothing, who is able to take the smallest ordinary things and multiply them into enough to sustain thousands of people.
* We’ve been going at this wrong. We’ve been looking for someone who will climb the ladder to success and raise above all others. Let’s get someone in here who for the sake of others will lower himself and endure shame and even persecution.
* Who cares about flow carts and pie charts? I want someone who can draw a line of justice and compassion in the sand.
* Time Management is important. I want this person to schedule large chunks of time, 40 days even, for prayer and fasting.
* We said we wanted someone who could draw up legal contracts for our clients, my new suggestion is that we find someone who will choose persons over policies. Someone who will choose to be in relationship rather than sign a document saying so. I’m looking for someone who will inspire us to follow his lead without legal mandate.
* And we’ve talked about needing someone that is a good executioner, one who monitors and controls all aspects of our projects, including closing a project. I’d like us to reconsider this idea, to instead consider one who endured execution and has lived to tell about it. One, who might be able to inspire in us a sense of victory and joy in abundance. One, who will motivate us to be like him.



I truly feel like these are the requirements we should be looking for in our search- Someone who will be an example of creative and unique management, someone who will be so intriguing and inspiring such that we will all begin to follow in his ways and grow in our own management skills.

I believe in you. I know you’ll be led toward the right person,

Sincerely,

The Boss





The intern, after having read the whole of the document, looked at his superiors and said, “You goofs! You’ve had me read and sort and collate and answer phone call after phone call while all the time you’ve been searching for the wrong person! Had I known this is what you were looking for….well, let’s just put it this way, I know just who The Boss is talking about.”



And the intern went on to tell a story that begins with a baby in a manger, a story that goes on to tell about a man who fed the hungry and healed the sick, a man who gave notice to the needy and worked miracles for the grieving. This man gave living water to a thirsty woman and sight to a blind man. He embraced the children in his arms and welcomed the sinner into his presence. This homeless man wrote the book on how to be a good steward. He gave everything, including his life, out of Love for others.



The Human Resources team sat perplexed.



“I’m game! Let’s hire him!” one of them said.

“On the spot? Just like that?” another responded. “I’m not so sure about this. If he comes on as our lead manager, we’ll have to follow his orders and do what he asks us to do. And I’m not sure about all that. Birkenstocks? Dreads? Homelessness? Prayer? Giving stuff away? Feeding the hungry? I’m not sure I’m game for all that.”



“Yeah!” agreed another, “What if we end up losing money? What if because of his leadership, the organization goes down? I’ve worked hard to save up for retirement. I’m not going to dip into my savings, ‘cause of him!”



“There go my lattes, my mani pedis, and my monthly trip to Loft”



“Oh goodness! I hadn’t thought of that! I’ve got a lot of medical bills I gotta pay. I’m not hiring some guy that’ll threaten my insurance payments.”



“And I’m not so sure I want to be dealing with homeless folk anyway. They are always asking for something, always begging.”



“Just as soon as we get him in here, he’ll start asking us to help finance his plans. I’m not down with that! I’ve been saving for a vacation to Disney World and nobody’s messing with my Mickey!”



“I like flow charts! What’s wrong with flow charts! Straight, easy to predict lines. That’s what I’m here for. I’m not here to take chances like that”



“If this dude takes over as senior manager, he’ll be our supervisor and we’ll be done for! We’ll have to follow his leadership. We’ll have to do whatever he asks us to do. And, well, I don’t know ‘bout all that!”



“Yeah! He’s going to start asking us to volunteer to work extra hours for free!”



“And he’ll probably ask us to do some things we don’t want to do.”



“All I’ve gotta say is I’m not taking my work home. This is work, home is home. The two don’t mix.”



“Oh, and don’t forget all that stuff the intern told us about praying and fasting and junk.”



“Praying’s not the half of it. Did you hear him say something about paying a living wage to the mailroom staff and opening up jobs for the folks on the West side of town?”



“Yeah, and am I right or wrong when I say I heard him tell us something about eating fish and bread. I hate seafood! And we better not have to do away with the endless buffet down in the cafeteria.”



“This organization’s goin’ down in flames!”



The conversation went on. Some paced back and forth, some wrote feverishly in their notebooks, others put their heads on their desk. By the end of the day, only one person was left in the conference room. The others had gathered their things, packed them up, and left.



The intern gathered the boss’ papers and put them back in the file. He then went to the Boss’ office. “Boss,” he said, “We’ve got a problem. I found the senior manager you were looking for, but we’ve got several new positions to fill in the Human Resources department.



The next day, a new add went out,



Help Wanted

Organization: The Body of Christ

Job Position Title: Stewards of the Kingdom

Job Description: This is an ideal opportunity for one who seeks to follow our head manager. Responsibilities will include day-to-day management of God’s resources, using your gifts to meet others’ needs, study of scripture & application to life, relationship development, ongoing prayer, sacrifice, generosity, and obedience. Prior experience is not necessary. We are seeking any individuals who want to join and learn from Christ himself. This is an opportunity to live an inspiring and rewarding life in a cutting edge field. Requirements: following the way of Christ and willingness to serve.



I think you’re a shoe-in. You should apply. Amen.

Hangry and Waiting sermon on Lam 3:19-26

When I moved into the Pastor’s study several weeks ago, the one remaining item from Sam’s time here was a copy of the November 2009 issue of Our State magazine. We don’t subscribe to this magazine at home, but I get to read it often because my in laws have a subscription. I love this magazine. The pictures are beautiful and the articles are interesting, and sense I’m a native to North Carolina, the magazine’s themes and topics are often like a trip down memory lane and a good visit back home.

This issue of the Our State magazine is dedicated to FOOD! Biscuits, barbecue, pecan pie, collards, fried okra, chicken and dumplings, country-style steak, banana pudding, fried chicken, country ham, figs, macaroni and cheese, cornbread, sweet potato pie, apple stack cake, oysters, seafood chowder...you hungry yet?...chess pie, pound cake, brunswick stew, new potatoes, grits and eggs, ribs...I’ll stop there before you all start drooling and run out the door for lunch.

At the back of the magazine, there is an article about artist, Shirley Willis. Shirley creates all the faux food displays at Tryon Palace in New Bern, NC. From the pictures and descriptions of the food, you would never be able to tell that it is not real. She’s made all sorts of appetizing, but artificial, creations: “small cream puffs held together by caramel and garnished with spun sugar, baked cinnamon apples, baked shrimp in scallop shells, roasted turkey, baked shad, and green beans garnished with bacon, a holiday dessert buffet of pastry swans swimming on a mirror lake surrounded by wafers, sugared fruit, tea cakes, and other 18th century delicacies.” Oops...sorry...there I go again getting everybody hungry.

But wait, maybe there’s no need for apologizing. You were hungry before I even started talking to you about food, weren’t you? If not, then why do we have the table set for you here? We come to this place and gather together to receive what we hunger for, the bread of life and the cup of the new covenant. God’s table has a place setting for us all and it is overflowing with abundance.

I remember talking with a friend one time about his family’s Thanksgiving traditions. He said that his mother used to have so much food and people at her Thanksgiving meal that she would begin cooking a week early. Her husband and sons would move out any unneccesary furniture and put it into a storage unit until after the festivities were over. Each room of the house was dedicated to a different food group. There was the meat room, the veggie room, the salads room, and the dessert room. The whole family, neighbors, friends, and guests would come over on Thanksgiving and spend hours and hours eating and enjoying one another’s company. Afterwards, everyone would pitch in to help clean up the big mess.

God’s table overflows with an abundance that this woman could not ever imagine. The pitcher at the Lord’s Table overflows with grace and mercy. The refills are free and they keep on coming. The plates are filled with nourishing peace and joy. Eat to your heart’s content. The table is made with gracious welcome and loving unity, so that all may be invited, received, and embraced. The chairs are built with rock solid truth and faith to keep you from falling and to bear any amount of burden or heavy weight. Everyone who gathers at the table is both the waiter and the guest, serving one another and sharing in fellowship. God’s table is beautiful, abundant, overflowing, welcoming, and nourishing, yet there is still hunger in this world.

On my way to work the other day, I met a man named Tim. Tim was standing at the top of the exit ramp from I77 getting onto Tyvola Rd. When my car got to the top of the ramp, I was stopped right beside Tim. I wanted to but couldn’t ignore him. I looked around the car to see what I had to give him and remembered the apple I had packed in my bag for a snack. I rolled down the window. “I have an apple,” I said. “I don’t want your apple,” said Tim. “I’m not being mean, I’m just being honest. I’m an alcoholic,” he said, “What I desire overrides an apple.” I looked at him, smiled, and started forward when the light turned green.

A single mom in my neighborhood has six children. She receives some money at the beginning of the month, but it does not cover all of her expenses. In talking with one of her daughters this past week, I came to realize that this mom often cries with worry about how she will buy groceries for her children.

This week, a college sophomore at University of Texas in Austin, opened fire, shot and killed himself on UT’s campus. Those who knew him were shocked, saying that he “was an excellent student who ‘wouldn't or couldn't hurt a fly.’ [His] high school principal, said teachers remembered him as being brilliant, meticulous and respectful.” http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20100928/ap_on_re_us/us_ut_gunman

Gypsies from Romania, the impoverished from latin america, the Karen people from Myanmar, plus many others seek refuge from despair only to be trapped in exile from any semblance of home.

Father Pedro Arrupe, the Jesuits' superior general, said, "When people are hungry anywhere in the world, the Eucharist is incomplete." (at the International Eucharistic Congress, which was held here in the U.S., in Philadelphia, in 1976)

Read Scripture: The thought of this affliction and homelessness is wormwood and gall! My soul continually thinks of it and is bowed down within me with grief and mourning. (Lamenations 3:19 & 20)

My sister in law has a funny word for that frustrated and mad feeling you get when you’re hungry...you know the feeling that you’re going to rip off someone’s head if they talk to you any more about the decision of where or what to eat because all you want to do is eat and at this point it could be italian, mexican, thai, or cardboard for all you care, you’re just hungry! This state of mind, according to her, is called “Hangry”. When we’re hangry, any amount of waiting is torturous. Each minute we are being kept from the table is another minute of grief and pain.

The hungers of this world often physical hungers, but they are also often spiritual and emotional hungers. Hunger for companionship, hunger for acceptance, hunger for welcome, hunger for a place to call home. We are hungry...even more than that, we are Hangry, hungry and with righteous anger...bowed down with grief and mourning...and we are waiting for all of us, not just some, to be nourished.

On this World Communion Sunday, we cannot help but notice the empty seats at God’s table, seats that are waiting to be filled. There is a room at the table for Tim, if only we will welcome him. There is a space at the table for the single mom and her children, if only we will notice them. There is a seat for the college sophomore in Texas if only we would embrace him. There is a seat at the Lord’s Table for those who seek refuge, if only we will move our purses and bags that are taking up extra space and share with our neighbors.

Read Scripture: But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness, “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “Therefore I will hope in him.” The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul that seeks him. It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.

We come to the table, filled with God’s bounty, we eat the bread and drink the cup and we wait, quietly with hope for God’s salvation to be made complete in us, in all of us.

The Lord is our portion, therefore we will hope in him. Amen.

Things I made recently

Nothing.

Unless you count: a mess, a bed, breakfast, pile of laundry, ....

I hope to get motivated to make arts and crafts again soon. For now, I'm ok with making other things.

The Men in my life

I recently celebrated a birthday. Facebook has added an interesting twist to birthdays: The Happy Birthday Wall Post. While I love the nice greetings and well wishes, I miss the more personal cards. Wait a minute! People stopped sending cards way before facebook! That is, except for a handful of folks like Kathryn, Betsy, and Grandaddy. (Thanks guys!)

Anyways, many of my facebook friends mentioned something like "I hope all those men in your life treat you well on your birthday." Greg was silly and mentioned something about wanting to know who the men in my life were and it all made for a good chuckle. But it all got me to thinking....Man! There are a lot of men in my life. There's Greg, John Tyson, Zeb, and even the dog is male- Matthew...there's Joe who lives with us and Jason next door and Jamar and Kevin who lives with Jason. And Jason's dog is a male- Jesse. And there's all the neighborhood guys...Felix, Xavier, Rhaji, Quavian, and others. And there are the (mostly) male ministers I plan camp with- Frank, Ben, David, Stuart, Steve, Joe, Michael. The list goes on...

But the "men in my life" didn't take me out after the community meal and treat me to Amalie's pastries and girl time. Nope. Joanie did that! And Ana, and Lorie, and Melody Ann, and Faith! Thanks, girls, for knowing just how to treat a girl right!