Friday, August 30, 2013


And for today, here's a Friday Five looking at the other end of things: Firsts. With so many folks starting school, college, seminary, etc. I've been thinking of a lot of other firsts in my life. Share with us, if you will:

Your first "place" - whether it was an apartment, dorm room, or home with a new spouse, the first place where you really felt like a grown-up:
My first apartment in OH. I was responsible for paying rent, utilities, keeping it clean, etc. I had a balcony facing west and even
had a smokey joe Weber grill and grilled in the summer. Although, I lived in an apartment in Seminary, shared with two roommates,
and lived in a dorm room the last two years of college, also with a roommate, being on my own was definitely the time I felt all
grown up.

Your first time away from home. Construe this any way you want. College? Girl Scout Camp? Study Abroad?
Let' see: there were Girl Scout overnighters and sleep over with school mates. No big deal. College was easily the first time
away from home and being really homesick. Here was a suburban Chicago gal transported to rural central IL. Wow, what an eye-
opener!! And I thought they were a bit behind! Nothing compared to OH where they are two-three years behind the rest of the
nation. I've adapted over the years and it doesn't bother me as much anymore.
Then there was the summer I lived with my Grandma in Switzerland while doing a assistant pastor internship while in Seminary.
Since I was with Grandma and all my relatives and I'd been there so often before, it felt more like a second home. I really
wasn't homesick and the summer flew by.
There was the college trip to the Philippines, Greece and Switzerland, where I basically flew nearly around the world all on
my own. I survived, got around okay and had a culturally enlightening trip.

Your first job in your field of endeavor (so, not babysitting, unless you are A Professional Babysitter today):
My first position was that of a prison chaplain in an all male prison where I had my first apartment. It was a great
experience. I learned to deal with many personalities and personality disorders. I was part of a solid chaplaincy staff. I
really enjoyed and grew in my ministry.

Your first time hosting. Again, construed broadly, this could be a dinner for the in-laws, your first time to have guests for a holiday meal, etc.
When I was in High School did host a party for the kids at work, while my parents were away. I'd have gotten away with it,
except one dorky kid broke a chair. Couldn't hide that. I made Italian beef sandwiches and everyone brought munchies.
The first family hosting was a Thanksgiving dinner two years after LH and I were married. We hosted his family and I really
cooked and was a nervous wreck. Over the years, I've gotten more laid back and don't stress as much - this is 23 years later.
I still cook Thanksgiving dinner, making stock from scratch, the stuffing is homemade, as are the mashed potatoes and dessert.
I really like the way the house smells with the turkey roasting and the warmth from all the cooking and setting the dining
room table with china and crystal. Just miss my father-in-law being there.

Your first love.That can be a person or something else!!
My first love was reading! I loved to read and still do. My Mom would make me stop reading to go out and play and to do
chores. I always used to read before going sleep.
My next love, at about the same time, was swimming. I was the youngest at the time to get my Swimmer's badge. In fact when
I took the test, the instructor put in the lane next to side of the pool, in case I had any trouble! (Snort of derision) I
came in fourth and had no trouble. They wanted me to join the swim team, but I declined. I loved swimming too much to make
it work or a chore. I just wanted to delight in swimming, for fun.

Thursday, August 29, 2013


I am not responsible for others' irresponsibility.
Truly. I am not.
Stopped at the gas station to fill my tank. While filling, a 19ish year old, approached me, apologized for disturbing me and mumbled something about his friend needing to get to work and could I spare a buck or two.
Now, how will one or two dollars help the young man get to work? That won't even buy a gallon of gas. When I first pulled into the station, this young man was sitting outside the front doors and smoking a cigarette. So, what was this money going to be used for?
A hot dog, gas, cigarettes, beer, drugs, etc? Their car was parked at one pump down and across from mine. If he had money for a polar pop or cigarettes, then, this young man was not using his money wisely or well.
I declined to give him any money. And then, he shouted, "Oh, F-bomb!" strode off the car and they pulled away.
I didn't deserve to have profanity yelled in my face.
And I reiterate: I am not responsible for others' irresponsibility.
I am thankful it was just the f-bomb and nothing more serious. Really, one should be able to gas up one's tank without feeling threatened. Those young men need prayer and new life.

Friday, August 23, 2013


So let's talk "packing or pack rat?" for this week's Friday Five.

1. Are you a sorter or a pack rat? What I mean by that is, do you select what you are taking with you (on a trip, a new assignment, a vacation), or do you pack with abandon (overweight suitcases be damned!)
I usually start making piles of things to take with and pack. Generally, there's too much and then I begin to eliminate.

2. Who first helped you learn how to pack? Or did you just come into it by osmosis or natural gifting (and need)?
My mom first taught me how to pack. Whenever we flew to Switzerland, she knew just how and what to pack. When we went camping
every summer, we packed up our clothes in huge, thick plastic drawstring bags from the hospital that my aunt worked at. My Mom
was a great packer and organizer.

3. What's your favorite kind of suitcase? Duffle? Soft-side? Wheels? (I am personally a fan of my "expanding zipper" wheelie suitcases. Saved my bacon on many a return trip home!)
I have soft-siders that expand on wheels. What a great invention - the wheels!!!! I don't know how I travelled to Switzerland,
Greece and the Philippines without wheels, dragging two suitcases, a carry-on and a purse. I was young and strong at the time!

4. Do you have that "packing gene" -- or do you pack and cram what you need into every available space?
I don't know about the packing gene, since I had to learn it. I always take too much with. My suitcases tend to be more on
the full side, although I allow extra room to bring back souvenirs, chocolate and cheese(from Switzerland). I have brought
home - glass pieces, bottles of liquor, stoneware and (knock on wood) nary an item has broken. I slip them and wrap them
around clothes make sure they won't shift too much and are well cushioned. Sometimes, I am able to get bubblewrap and
newspapers for extra padding.
LH always travels with a 1/2 empty suitcase. I've had to put some of the things in his suitcase because he packs so light but
is so very fussy about his neatly placed items.

5. What's one thing you've learned in traveling, packing or storing your belongings that you think everyone should know?
See above about packing bottles of liquor or glass pieces. Also, rolling some shirts makes the most sense and saves space.
I never roll bulky sweaters - takes up too much room. I lay them flat. Also, I stuff things inside my extra pairs of shoes
which also provides protection (like jars of jam) and makes for great extra space.


...I play, Where's Grasshopper? We've had a couple really humungous grasshoppers living in the flowerbeds. One apparently really enjoys munching on the Siberian Iris leaves and lives amongst them. The other lives on the other side of the same porch side, and a smaller one was in the inkberry bush although much smaller and browner.
Every time I go out on the porch, I play, Where's Grasshopper? They can camouflage rather well but I've been perceptive enough to usually find them. Yesterday morning, the big green/brown grasshopper was masquerading as an Iris pod by clinging upside down right alongside two Iris seed pods. It looked just like a seed pod unless you really looked closely. I've seen her munch with her big, wide mouth the Iris leaves. She has hopped on the inukshuk I made in the flowerbed to warm herself on the sun baked stone.
The smaller brown grasshopper had one leg caught in the spider web on the front of the house on the vinyl siding. He did manage to extricate himself and won a second chance at life instead of being sucked dry by a spider.
The bees and the butterflies are always stopping by gathering pollen or nectar. And the garden spider by the inukshuk gathered a Japanese beetle in her web and was busy wrapping it so it couldn't escape.
The house spider in the corner by the dining room window has caught; an unfortunate lightening bug, a moth, a mayfly, another bug, a Japanese beetle I stomped on and promptly put in her web ( with a leaf), and a very green grasshopper that when she was done with it was as flat as any leaf.
Wednesday night late, before going to bed, LH and I stepped out on the porch. All was dark and quiet. Everyone had lights out and gone to bed. The street lights shone their peachy hue onto the street and there we saw the calico cat that wanders the neighborhood and has had the audacity to stroll through our backyard despite the fence and two greyhounds who would love to chase it if given the opportunity. She was stalking something and chased back and forth across the street from curb to curb, and up and down. It looked like a mouse. It was rather amusing to watch. She eventually did catch it and took it onto the lawn across the street, probably for a bit more play.
Late at night, when all the neighbors were fast asleep, we watched the drama played out in the street.
We never know all the life that is around us, unless we spend time watching and looking. There is a whole world out there that we often simply rush by, overlook, don't see, because we don't take the time. I'm grateful to have the time to see all the life that is part and parcel of our little corner of the world. There is always more around us than we ever see. And it is all part of the wonder of God's creation.
I look forward to playing, Where's Grasshopper?, for a few more weeks!

Monday, August 19, 2013


It was at the church council meeting last Wednesday evening - when as we were settling down to begin that one member checked her phone and got the message that this synod's bishop was just elected presiding bishop of the whole denomination!!! Surprise!
What a blessing to the larger denomination of this gifted, talented and insightful clergywoman and what a loss to this Synod.
Though I am not of this denomination, I have had great admiration of this bishop and her leadership, work and ministry in and throughout the Synod. She has weathered some rather tumultuous times within the Synod, and has sailed through them a bit bruised but not too battered. I know that she will be a gift to the larger church and do so ably and competently. I really hate to see her go! But understand that God is at work in her life and calling her to serve the church, share her gifts, and do so on much larger scale.
I knew this before LH did and brought the news home to him which he quickly confirmed on-line!!! That was priceless!! To know something of such great import in his denomination before he knew it!!!
It makes me begin to wonder my denominational regional leader. I admire her greatly, as well. She is much softer and gentler than the bishop, but just as powerful, able and competent. I hope she is not too anxious to leave us. The whole Presbytery has benefitted much from her leadership, ministry, insight and wisdom as well. I pray she stays for awhile longer.
Perhaps, I admire these clergywomen because they are comfortable in their own skin, confident and possess a deep faith.
I am feeling particularly blessed today, to have served with these clergywomen, to appreciate what a gift and grace they are,
and the example they show forth. Blessings be upon them and abound in their lives even as they continually answer the call to serve where God leads them for the good of God's people. I am thankful for them and give thanks to God for them.

Monday, August 12, 2013


In this Ordinary Time, things have been...well...ordinary. Around these parts, August has been cooler than normal. There is the sweet corn bumper crop with all the rain we had this spring/summer. Indeed, even our lawns and the meadow are still pretty green. Highly unusual for this time of year. I haven't even had to water the garden much at all. The tomatoes are ripening and I have a bowlful on the kitchen counter. Not quite enough to cook up into sauce, but too many to eat between two people. Since they are still getting a bit more ripe, I have some time to think about it.
LH and I have enjoyed the many visits from Eastern Tiger Swallowtail and Black Swallowtail butterflies, as well as a couple Viceroys and Hummingbird moths to the butterfly bush. The Dr. Seuss flowers are all spent and the hummingbirds have to go back to using the nectar feeder.
I have been busy with the ordinary - cleaning house, getting an oil change, and doing laundry. The ordinary and mundane tasks that need to be done. With my more regular cleaning - as opposed to LH's whenever he gets around it - it has become much easier and quicker, even the shower stays cleaner longer!!! That's all it takes - regular cleaning and tending. The dust, however, still settles in and on more quickly than it ought - at least in my opinion!
I still have closets to go through and pack up clothing that has grown too big. I have a hard time parting with some items, even though they no longer fit. I just need to bite the bullet and let these items have a next life with someone else.
I am missing my niece who is over in Africa working on her doctoral project. We have had some great conversations on the phone while she was still in Med School in IL. Now she's gone for 6 months, living rather austerely in some very humble lodgings. Fortunately, she has warm water with an outside shower, a now working toilet and she purchased a two burner stove to heat soup and eggs. She's hoping to partake of the bananas outside of her residence, but fears the monkeys might beat her to them when they ripen! I don't believe my niece has much ordinary in her days so far.
Ordinary is ok. It is comfortable. It just lacks a bit of pizazz. I have enough to keep busy with the church, even though part-time and as ever, more than enough to keep me busy at home. It is good. It is grace-filled. I can savor the quiet and the busy and the mundane. It is all grace just to receive a day and give thanks and be thankful for it.
Hail, Ordinary Time - thou art still a teacher of me.