Monday, March 26, 2007


Spring break is here. And even as nice as it is here I am ready to leave Illinois for the Sunshine State. Carissa and I fly out this evening, and hope for wonderful, sunny weather in Florida to cheer our spirits and heal our winter bound souls.
Looking forward to R & R, sea breezes and sunshine. Oh, and heavenly Greek food at Mr. Souvlaki's in Tarpon Springs........
Books and IPod packed.
We're off!

Friday, March 23, 2007

Come - just as you are - to worship

Worship. What does that mean? So often worship is inexorably tied to music. This past weekend was an affirmation to me that indeed, music is not the only way to worship. For years music was the way I worshipped. I don't really want to get into all of that. I'm just mentioning that because it's often the perception that music = worship. Think about our terminology - "praise and worship", or the "worship leader", the "worship team" - all usually referencing music. Music is worship in that it is one form of worship. But certainly there are many other ways. I was an active participant on a worship team. Music was part of me. Then, through circumstances I was removed from music as worship. Both from a leadership position, and then from just music the way I was used to participating in it. My soul felt dry and hard. It could be so bad at times that I'd have to make occasional trips to Willow Creek to refill, get my fix. Silly. But, honestly, I still do at times. I still feel that need.

But when you think about worship - it should be a natural part of each day. Something that flows from us in whatever we do. There can be formal settings - sure. We worship in our churches - and depending on our church this can take many forms. Lectio Devina, art, prayer, centering prayer, communion - all fairly traditional. But we are to be living and breathing worship. In all we do. Whether it's cleaning the house, or helping a friend. It's like praying without ceasing. God is everywhere, in everything. How can we not worship? Mundane tasks? He is there. Stressful situations, he is there. Parties and good times, he's there. Driving the car, weeding the garden, washing the dishes. He's there. We just need to refocus our minds on the good, and the holy in everyday situations. Why we are doing the task? Out of love, or out of duty? Not so easy to be sure. But what an opportunity to connect to God! As for formal worship - I know there are other really cool avenues out there. We just need to restructure our thinking. Be creative. Be curious. Pursue it. What does worship look like? What are new and unique ways to worship? If we break the box of traditional worship, what is out there waiting that we have never considered? I'm still thinking. Processing. Waiting.

Living Small

To all my friends who want to simplify - here you go. (Jen) :)

Living Small
Tiny Houses (


Thursday, March 22, 2007

I can't wait for Spring Break....

Woo-Hoo! My copy of
Grace (Eventually): Thoughts on Faith
Grace (Eventually): Thoughts on Faith by Anne Lamott
came yesterday. I am soooooooooo excited. It's sitting on my dresser just daring me to pick it up. It's all I can do to leave it there until my trip to Florida. I can't wait to see what she has to say this time around.
In the meantime I will be content with Sue Monk Kidd's
When the Heart Waits: Spiritual Direction for Life's Sacred Questions (Plus)
When the Heart Waits: Spiritual Direction for Life's Sacred Questions
I wish I had found this book two years ago when I was struggling with many of the things she is talking about. Actually, I had it a year ago, but it got lost in the pile on my dresser. I really have to stop stockpiling books. It just adds to my stress cuz I wanna read them all at once. The Dance of the Dissident Daughter: A Woman's Journey from Christian Tradition to the Sacred Feminine is in that pile. As is Streams of Living Water: Celebrating the Great Traditions of Christian Faith by Richard J. Foster. And a myriad of others. I need about a year, and an isolated cottage at the beach to get 'em all read. And then, I need someone to talk to and bounce what I'm learning/feeling off of. And of course, who has the patience for that? Even my closest friends don't have that kind of fortitude!

Still processing stuff from this weekend. And I think it will be ongoing until I really get a good chunk of time to myself to do so. And right now that seems impossible. Every night for a week I have had something I have to do. Three separate high school concerts added to the busy-ness. (Band, Orchestra and Choir) Meetings take time too. I missed one on Monday. I just couldn't bring myself to do one more thing. That night I fell asleep at 6:30. We were not meant to be this busy. Calgon - take me away!

Monday, March 19, 2007

We gathered together....

So, every time I immerse myself in these types of God things I get overwhelmed. Emotional. I get unsettled. I can't put my finger on why. I see the greatness. The bigness. I feel God working in me - but I can't see where I'm going. I just returned from the Emerging Women Midwest Gathering. And before I say anything else, let me say that Julie did an excellent job planning and running this gathering.

I must say there were things that surprised me. I guess I was expecting an encounter with other women that reflected the emerging woman I am familiar with. Instead, I found those I resonated with, and those I didn't. And when I didn't it was a definite didn't.

I came home feeling like I needed to be debriefed. To vent, talk, sort things out, share - just express the myriad of emotions from the weekend. But I was (and still am) so dead tired... So, so tired. I wanted to call my friend, but I just couldn't pick up the phone. I had been around too many people, and heard too many stories and ideas, and too much crap, truth be told. And felt tension, cliques, superiority and lack of respect. I also felt humility, acceptance, a willingness to learn and friendship. I am frustrated, confused, exhausted, happy, connected, disconnected, and overwhelmed. It's hard to provide support and do your best to give answers as to why others have hurt someone, or been defensive and unaccepting when you are part of the group at large associated with the hurt, yet you don't understand why it happened at all or have the answers to heal the hurt.. It's hard to be encouraging when others are being "inciteful" and arrogant. It's encouraging to talk and have others listen. It's helpful to realize just where you are on the journey - which happens when you began to explain to another just what this journey is about and why you are there. It's exciting to become more confident in your beliefs and understand those beliefs more fully as you answer the hard "but what about?", "what do they mean?," or "how does this play out?" questions. It's painful to stretch beyond your boundaries, to grow bigger and more responsible as you more fully grow in (and more fully own) your beliefs. It's hard to disagree with a dogmatic person and not feel wounded, judged or hurt. It's disappointing to have dreams shattered, to realize your expectations were way off base. It's hard to see people that should be leaders acting like children who won't play nice. It's maddening that people can't follow a simple instruction, or be alone or quiet for one hour. One hour. It's aggravating to be woken up by a theological debate where people are using outside voices at 6:30 in the morning in the sleeping area instead of respecting the quiet. The debate wasn't bad - I rather enjoyed it. It was just the timing. It was restful to discover centering prayer, and amazing to feel the spirit descend on your heart and soul; and to feel your mind become quiet and peaceful to the point of not feeling the pain of a hard chair, or seeing the movie screen of pictures dancing behind your closed eyes. It was wonderful to work together, experiencing grace, sacrifice, co-operation and helpfulness as we cleaned up, yet sad to see the selfishness, lack of consideration and expectations of some as we cleaned up after them. It was joyous to play with Emma and way too quiet after she left. It was fun to watch Mike in a room full of women, not sure whether to interact or remain apart. It was wonderful to make new friends, and hear the stories they had to tell about their journeys. It was encouraging to note the myriad of ages - and realize there is room for all. To just know that there are others who have struggled just as long as I have - and had the same experiences. It was gratifying to be able to help some people with technical stuff - and actually have an answer. It was frustrating not to be asked to help with a situation I could have found alternative solutions for or helped fix had I known about it in advance. It was satisfying and delightful helping Char set up her labyrinth space, even when things went wrong, and very satisfying to work together to find solutions. I also missed my friend, terribly. I would loved to have had her there to bounce stuff off of, or walk the labyrinth with, or just share my heart with in the quiet moments..........

All of this to say - it was a wonderful weekend. Don't get me wrong. I'm glad I went, even if it wasn't exactly as I envisioned it. And I can't say it was relaxing, because of all the emotions and feelings I described above. I feel tired. Weary to the bone. But it showed me how much needs to be done. And how different we all are. It showed me how I can hurt another when I don't think, and that reflects in my body language. It showed the power of a simple hug. It showed me how listening is the best gift you can give another who desperately wants to be heard. And above all, it showed that we are not all at the same place on the journey. We must allow those just starting to ask the questions we have already wrestled with without making them feel judged or patronized. Or wrong. It showed the need for grace.

Thank you to all of you who made the weekend wonderful; to those of you who were willing to dialogue about the hard things. To those of you who were willing to openly and graciously share your faith traditions to help others understand. Thank you to those who were authentic and vulnerable, and didn't have it all figured out. Thank you to those who were willing to still ask questions even after being hurt by responses.

Thanks to Julie for coordinating - (and Sarah.) Thanks to the presenters. Thanks to Sarah - (and her wonderful smile) for leading worship.

I will definitely be going again.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Can you guess?

Two post in one day - Hmmmm. But this section of the book I am reading intrigued me. So, I thought I would share it.....

As I was reading last night, I came across something interesting. It had to do with exclusion and racism. Here is an example....

"The ( __) must go! They are stealing our jobs." In the crowds that came to hear him, men carried placards that read, "We will not give up our country to the (__)," and "Our rights we will maintain," and "White Labor Must Triumph."

In Congress, the arguments for exclusion were purely racist. Many of them were the same ones that had been used against the Irish decades earlier. The (__) took jobs from "real" Americans. The (__) were dirty, drank too much, and lived on too little money. They didn't spend their money in this country, preferring to save it and send it home.....They worked cheaply, and when they were out of work, unlike Americans, they became hoodlums. They carried disease; they were clannish; when they died they sent their bones back to ( __)-, as if American soil wasn't good enough for them. In other words, the (__) were totally unassimilable.

Anybody care to guess the race/country?

There were some other interesting points made that if I have time I can address later.......

Let me know your thoughts.

OH......MY...... GOODNESS

Last night we went to my daughter's choir concert. I love music. And I usually enjoy the choir concerts. But last night....oh my. It was a combined concert including two middle school choirs and the four high school choirs. I felt like I was at a sporting event. First, there weren't enough seats, which caused chaos before the concert even began. Then the first middle school choir began their pieces. A mom in front of me started waving at her child. Now mind you, we were four rows from the back - um....kinda hard for the child to see her. Could be why she waved in about six different patterns and did everything short of jumping up and down. As the evening progressed we had talkers, inappropriate clapping, cat calls, whistles, cell phones, noisy candy wrappers, crying children whose parents refused to remove them despite the distraction, and even one little kid that yelled and shrieked during a very quiet reflective song. But the one that really got me was the guy behind me SINGING!

And these were for the most part parents. No wonder our kids are so screwed up and don't respect and value anything. How will they ever learn appropriate behavior? Usually I get angry at the people that stay until their child performs and then leave. How rude is that? But last night that didn't happen. Unfortunately. OK - end of rant.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Give me a map and a story.....

I'm still around. I just have had nothing to say. Nothing worth posting anyway. It's just one of those dry times I guess. Not that I haven't been doing things and going places, and thinking and reading - it's just that I haven't had anything I felt like I had to say. I have been reading blogs - and occassionaly it seems to spark something, but by the time I actually attempt to write, that little spark goes out.
I've been reading biographies and memoirs lately. I love to learn about people and places different than me. I also like to read other people's perspectives on things I have experienced. I read a book about growing up in Chicago - on Division Street - in the 40's. I read a book about a man from England who moved his family to Casablanca and restored a house there. The culture fascinates me. I'm currently reading a book by Lisa See about her family's experience coming from China to California around the time the railroads were being built. I have a book on my shelf about Alaska, one about growing up evangelical, one about a woman who dares to go to seminary. I have a book about Phylis Tickles life. One about missionaries to the Waodani Tribe. I have Lauren Winners memoir, Girl Meets God. I have a book about a girl who wanted more than anything to be a nun and her experiences as she went through the process only to leave at the end. I've read about people's lives in Africa, Ireland (Grace O Malley) India, Italy, France, Greece. I've read about happy people, sad people, content people, sick people, oppressed people and bitter people. And I learn lessons from every one. Now, if I could be more than just an armchair traveler......

Thursday, March 08, 2007

On With The Song - Mary Chapin Carpenter

This isn't for the ones who blindly follow
Jingoistic bumper stickers tellin' you
To love it or leave it and you'd better love Jesus
And get out of the way of the Red, White, and Blue

This isn't for the ones who buy their six-packs
At the 7-Eleven where the clerk makes change
Whose accent makes clear (he) sure ain't from here
They call him a camel jockey instead of his name

No, this is for the ones who stand their ground
When the lines in the sand get deeper
When the whole world seems to be upside down
And (the) shots bein' taken get cheaper, cheaper

This isn't for the ones who would gladly swallow
Everything their leader would have them know
Bowing and kissin' while the truth goes missin'
"Bring it on," he crows, puttin' on his big show

This isn't for the man who can't count the bodies
Can't comfort the families, can't say when he's wrong
Playin' "I'm the decider," like some sort of Messiah
While another day passes and a hundred souls gone


This is for the ones that I see above me
Three little stars in a great big sky
Light for the world and hope for the weary
They try

This isn't for the ones with their radio signal
Callin' for bonfires and boycotts, they rave
Exhorting their listeners to spit on the sinners
While countin' the bucks of advertising, they'll say

[Tag Chorus:]
This isn't for you and you know who you are
Just do what you want 'cause I know that you can
But I gotta be true to myself and to you
So on with the song, I don't give a damn

Monday, March 05, 2007

Learning to love like a dog.....

Sometimes my dogs make me really mad. Especially when they bark, shred paper or steal food. Life would be so much easier without them. Until they were gone - and then I would realize what a gaping hole had been left in my life. And I would be sad. The puppies love to play. They love me unconditionally. They watch TV with me. They love it when I pet their silky soft fur - which is kinda like playing with sand or anything else that calms me. I can't stay stressed while I'm petting the dog. They curl up beside me at night and keep me warm and snuggly. They listen when I rant, jump when I laugh, cock their heads and look at me with liquid eyes when I cry. They want to be with me, they want to please me. There's no miscommunication with dogs. No hurt feelings.
They bark at intruders, eat the crumbs off my floor, fetch the paper. They know when I am sick or hurting and gently lick me, paw me, before settling down at my side to watch over me. The dogs will greet me with pure joy and exuberance when I come home from anywhere. Dogs love with no hidden agendas. Their love is pure and intense. Dogs expect nothing from me other than food, water and LOVE.
Dogs are born with an endless capacity for agape love, and they don't even have to work at it. If I am grouchy, if I ignore them, if I refuse them love - they still love me. And when I decide I'm ready to be friends again, my dogs don’t ignore me to teach me a lesson. They're just happy I'm there. Dogs love for a lifetime. This is something humans work hard on in relationships, but often fail at.
This is why we need dogs. They do something for us that rarely a human companion can do. No matter how much I mess up, or how many things I do wrong, no matter how many mistakes I make or how often I make them my dogs still love me. It doesn't matter how I look, how much money I make, or if I am popular. My dog never judges me. He loves me with all his heart.
A few thoughts to leave you with:

"Plus je vois les hommes, plus j'admire les chiens" (The more I see of men, the more I admire dogs) Madame Roland - 18th century

"the best friend a man has in the world may turn against him and become his enemy. His son or daughter ... may prove ungrateful. Those who are nearest and dearest to him ... may become traitors to their faith.... The one absolutely unselfish friend that man can have in this selfish world, the one that never deserts him, the one that never proves ungrateful or treacherous, is his dog." Samuel Coleridge - May 1830

"The dog chooses us, not because it is confused about our identity, not because dogs think we are the marvel of creation, but merely because dogs love us. It is such an amazing fact, and so counter intuitive (so profoundly unlovable do we think we are) that almost nobody can accept it as fact. Dogs love us not only because we feed them, or walk them, or groom them, or protect them, but because we are fun. How astonishing!" Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson

"Dog love is local love, passionate, often unmediated, virtually always reciprocated, fulfilling, manageable. Love for humans is harder." Marjorie Garber

"Dogs are astonishingly skilled at reading humans' patterns of social behavior, especially behaviors related to food and care. They figure out our moods and what makes us happy, what moves us. Then they act accordingly, and we tell ourselves that they're crazy about us. " Brian Hare

"Even when fully acquainted with all our weaknesses, our treachery, our unkindness, the dog seems to love strongly......" Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson

When a dog loves you, he loves you forever.....
Can you imagine how it could change the world if we would love like a dog?