Thursday, December 29, 2005

Born. Eat. Shag. Die.

I followed the link at good in parts and found The Mayfly Project.

Basically you write about your year in the amount of words as a mayfly has hours to live (24).

Here is mine:

It's a boy!
Tears turned to joy.
Back to work - sad.
Boy at home with Dad.
Friends are fun
Learning to blog/knit - done!


And no, you don't have to rhyme, mine just started that way and I decided to see if I could finish it.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Revgalblogpal Christmas Meme

1. What is the best gift you received this year? (Tangible gifts only, please!)
My husband gave me a NY GIANTS jersey - Tiki Barber edition. It was great because I had casually mentioned how cool it would be to have another one (my other one is vintage Mark Bavaro). However, I was not expecting it because TDH is shall I say... frugal? I was surprised and VERY excited and I got to put it on during worship on Sunday because our theme was The Gift. I did manage to wait until AFTER the baptism.

2. What is the best gift you gave this year?
I gave my Mom a necklace and bracelet that she will really enjoy.

3. When did you do most of your shopping/creating?
We were well into December for both - the weekend of the 18th is when I did the majority of our baking.

4. Did you go shopping the day after Thanksgiving (U.S.)? Today?
No and no... although my mother and sister did and I had them pick us up some lights for next year.

5. What stands out already about Christmas 2005?
The Boy's first Christmas. He had so much fun and inspected and explored each and every gift. Soon the gifts will be ripped into so I was really trying to just soak in this moment.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Christmas Pics

Hunt for Red December
Where did those humans put all the ribbon?



Mover and a Shaker
Christmas gifts taught me how to crawl
Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Silly Symbols

My Christmas Eve meditation needed a reference to humorous definitions of Christmas symbols. I searched the web but could find none so I made up a few. Go ahead and give them a read and then give me some silly definitions of your own.

Oh yeah, and if no one has told you yet, great job tonight. Your worship service was wonderful and meaningful!

CHRISTMAS TREE
Tradition begun in prehistoric times as man got tired of bringing in bits of wood to throw on the fire and finally just drug in the whole thing. It couldn’t just lay there on the floor so he propped it in the corner and in order to keep himself out of trouble he threw stuff on it so it would look more decorative.

CHRISTMAS TREE LIGHTS

Designed by NASA to determine if anyone would be smart enough to figure out that it is just smarter to just skip them. So far, no one has. As soon as they do, this person will be recommended as the Head of NASA in perpetuity.

ADVENT WREATH
Exercise equipment for ministers in both body and mind as they constantly leap and turn to make sure the darn thing is still lit, but has not hit the evergreen part yet which by Christmas Eve is better known as kindling. It is exercise for the mind because they must come up with new answers every year for why one of the candles is pink.

TINSEL
Remnants from the documents shredded during the Elf ENRON scandal that were packaged and sold in order to pay off lawyer fees.
If you had a pet who ate tinsel then you have a story that no one wants to hear.

CANDY CANE
Item that well-meaning sales clerks give to very young children paying no mind to the fact that within seconds it will completely dissolve covering every item in the store with sugary, sticky drool with the only evidence that any of it was ingested at all being their hyper behavior throughout the rest of the day and well into the next.

MISTLETOE
Used by teenaged girls everywhere as props for their dreams as they determine how to get their secret crush and themselves under it at the same time. This activity usually ends in frustration for when the two are finally under the mistletoe together the teenage boy is merely looking for some soda and the teenage girl’s parents are watching.
As married adults the frustration continues as husband is still looking for some soda and even if he does see the mistletoe he will take it down and laugh and hold it over his backside.

What are your silly symbol definitions?

ps - Was it wrong of me to think in the middle of our worship service tonight, "Oh my God,
Jo(e) wrote that she liked my last post. How cool is that?!?!"

Friday, December 23, 2005

Things that my Son Learned While I was at the Meeting

He can now propel himself in a military crawl to get to what he wants.
What he wants are the presents under the tree.
He doesn’t open he shakes and bangs on them with his hands.

He points at the cat and makes a hard ‘c’ sound when she enters the room… hunting for ribbon.

He can pull himself to a standing position by pushing off with his feet and using the couch to pull himself up using his hands… and his teeth!

He prefers Chiraz to other reds.
After reading it a second time, War and Peace is no longer his favorite novel.
He has decided that the Masters in molecular biology is unnecessary since the PhD in organic chemistry will more than advance his career.

Seriously, how long WAS that meeting?

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Thank You

One of the hazards of growing up Presbyterian is that while your decent and in order sides (not to mention the liturgical and committee sides) become very well developed sometimes the spiritual side lags behind.

Spiritual development is an area that I need to work on. That said, I felt your prayers tonight.

Thank you. Thank you for holding me, my family and my congregation in prayer.

The meeting was two hours long. It had to be in order for people to leave confident that they had been heard. We were able to separate the issues from the desire to have this family come back. It was agreed – fairly early on – that although the issues should be addressed they should not be addressed just to get this family to come back.

It seemed healthy and there were no post-meeting conversations in the parking lot something I always consider to be a good sign.

My favorite part came when we were way into the second hour and someone mentioned wrapping things up. Someone else said, “It is the week of Christmas, you know.”

Yes people, I know.

It was essential that I be a non-anxious presence during this meeting and I firmly believe that it was because of your prayers that I was able to do so.

Thank you, friends. Thank you.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

The Big Picture

I do not usually post right on top of each other. There is something about throwing something in the blogging pot and allowing it to steam without covering it with the lid of another post.

I realized this morning that I had left out a few other stress points going on and then I remembered the big picture. That was the name of my Christmas Eve meditation last year. Here is an excerpt:

The challenges and frustrations of life often cause us to miss the big picture.

The small picture includes frustration with the fact that it is our turn to have Aunt Edna over this Christmas. When we pull back and look at the big picture we see families whose loved ones are spread throughout the globe fighting in wars who will not be home for Christmas this year. When we pull back and look at the big picture we see families in mourning whose loved ones will no longer be around the Christmas table.

The small picture includes frustration that our counters are covered in fattening, sugary high carb foods making it hard to stick to the diet. When we pull back and look at the big picture we see families in our own country and throughout the world unable to feed their children. When we pull back and look at the big picture we see refugees in Sudan and innocent bystanders in Iraq and Afghanistan waiting in long lines for rationed water and grain.

The small picture includes frustration over getting a winter cold. When we pull back and look at the big picture we see an entire continent being engulfed by the tragedy of AIDS.

--------------------------------

Only two years ago my family went through a personal tragedy and we did not celebrate Christmas. I just tried to type it, but I can't. If you read my Advent devotional then you know. Substitute pastors were called in and we left town.

This year we get to celebrate it with a little one who is having his very first Christmas.

So they can call their stupid meetings and have their silly power plays. The presents can be late. The bulletins can go ahead and be overwhelming.

The big picture of our world includes the Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace… the light that shines through the darkness and will not allow the darkness to overcome it.

Merry Christmas.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Thank You Sir, May I Have Another?

My Dad cannot make it up to Cold State from Warm State for Christmas because of a bad back.

My sister and I are just coming off an unfun pothole in our relationship.

My in-laws’ health is steadily declining… and yet their stubborness, judgements and demands remain steadfast.

Although I planned ahead, I once again was side-swiped by the January bulletins I have to do so I can be away on vacation. I always forget those until it is crunch time for all of the other stuff too. Long story short: I am doing/have done 8 bulletins in 2 weeks (this means planning worship too, not just doing the paperwork).

My new Administrative Assistant is just that, new… and this is not her calling.

We just received notice that the MAIN PRESENT for all of our relatives WILL NOT BE HERE FOR CHRISTMAS. I ordered them mid-November.

The Session (our church’s governing body) is having a meeting forced on us by three of them who met with the family who left.
The informational packets they handed out are ten pages long.
The meeting is set for Thursday night.

That’s right. December 22nd.

My strategy?
Today I had a massage (I pre-scheduled it two months ago. The January bulletins snuck up on me, but the tension did not).

Tomorrow I will meet a friend for afternoon coffee.

Thursday I will bake comfort food with my Mom and sister. .. and eat it hot out of the oven.

Friday is dinner and a movie with Tall, Dark and Husband.

Saturday is Christmas Eve. I love Christmas Eve.

Sunday I already have a relaxed worship service planned, complete with Baptism.

Monday we leave on vacation.

I. Shall. Not. Be. Defeated.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Confessions of a Ribbon Addict



Dear Friends, Family and I guess that Stupid Dog,

It is with deep reflection and much staining of the carpet that I admit to all of you that I have a problem... I am a ribbon addict.

It has been very hard for me to admit I have a problem. I knew that occasionally I overindulged, but who doesn't when crinkly ribbon is involved... (especially with curls in it and being lightly blown by the heating vent... oops, er, I digress).

This year it has become increasingly apparant that the problem is far deeper than that. I have found myself chewing on flat ribbon, velvet ribbon and even those little bits of ribbon that come attached to other decorations - blech!

I have spent my nights looking for fresh ribbon-kill and then spend the early morning making a mess since it won't digest. My days are spent in a ribbon-induced stupor sleeping on any chair with a blanket and a heat source. I have fallen so far as to be caught kissing up to that Stupid Dog all in an attempt to score a bow or two.

I finally hit rock bottom when I ran to The Little One - he with the herky, jerky limbs and the dangerous tail-grabbing lunging - I ran to him because I thought they said, "Does he have some ribbon?" but really they said, "Does he have his bib on?"

Since that moment I have tried to make amends. I helped take the string of lights off the tree that weren't working and a limb of the tree that was blocking the view of the presents has been removed thanks to me.

Still. I need your help. Please do not bring this tempting product into the house. I cannot help myself.

With some Like and a bit of Disdain,
Maude

Saturday, December 17, 2005

RevGal Friday Five: Holiday Party Edition

1)Have you ever gotten a really good kiss under the mistletoe? Tell the truth. Spare no details. Was the mistletoe real, because kisses under the fake stuff do. not. count.

Sigh… no.

2) Do you know anyone who makes real eggnog, not the stuff from the carton? And if so, do you actually like it?

No and blech.

3) What's your favorite Christmas party album/CD ever?

Any of the compilations that has Barbra doing Jingle Bells, Nat King Cole singing The Christmas Song, Bing Crosby singing White Christmas… you know those albums where people are singing the songs you want them to be. No Brittany Spears singing Santa Baby or that #*&(#$ Feliz Navidad.

4) Does your office/workplace have a party? Do the people there ever behave the way people in movies behave at office parties, which is to say, badly?

No. When I got here they did not even do Christmas bonuses. Now they do (except for me). I have always worked in a church so my office parties have always been rather tame.

TDH and I have coffee fellowship at our house after the worship service closest to Christmas Day (we live across the parking lot from the church). This year that is tomorrow. It is actually quite convenient. This way you have an Open House and yet folks are still in the Sunday morning coffee fellowship mindset, so they leave after 20 minutes!

5) If you have to bring something to a party, what is it likely to be? Do people like it?

Applesauce cake. I don’t bake much but I humbly admit this stuff is awesome. I think it is the cloves that give it a more unique flavor than other breads I have had. Every year we make Christmas goodie bags for the leadership of the church. TDH is always coming up with some new, crazy bread – half from a recipe and half from what he thinks would be fun. Every year I make the same ol’ bread…
and every year mine is better. Thanks Gram!

Applesauce Cake
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup margarine
1 cup applesauce
1 tsp baking soda dissolved in 2 tbsp of hot water
1+ tbsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp cloves
2 cups flour
1+ cup raisins

Cream first two ingredients and then add the rest and mix. I usually mix them all up and then add the raisins last. Bake in a greased loaf pan.

Cook one hour in oven preheated to 325.

Peace friends.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

What I Love

It is a stressful time here. I have posted previously about a family who left the church. Unfortunately they have not left the business of the church and he especially remains in contact with a vocal minority mostly about what I’m doing wrong. A called Session meeting is in the works… the silent majority is running out of time to speak up.

In the height of the chaos of Advent and Christmas, I am now also polishing up my PIF (resume for you non-PCUSA’ers). Needless to say I have got a lot of bitter to blog… but I’m not going to blog bitter (at least not now).

Reverendmother has done a couple of 'What I Love' posts and that is really what I want to focus on right now:

I love…

... TDH and The Boy.

... My friends.

…Sunday afternoons after the parking lot is cleared and lunch at our house has been served. It is quiet. It is peaceful. And because Monday is my day off, my brain is usually at ease.

…The Boy in his dark blue sweatshirt. It just makes him look all boy and yet cute and cuddly at the same time.

… hugs and kisses when I come in from the office whether it be just for lunch or at the end of the day.

…how excited The Boy gets when he hears a familiar voice coming in the door and how that excitement doubles when he sees them poke their head around the corner.

… homemade macaroni and cheese.

… Christmas cookies and the smell of a house that has been baking them.

… Christmas Eve.

…That as the dark clouds have been forming over this latest controversy and TDH and I realize that the writing is not quite on the wall yet, but magic markers may be opening he says to me, “Don’t worry. We need to buy a house anyway.” (We live in a manse.)

…This ‘quiet’ moment of coffee, baby babble (in the distance as he plays) and blog (I am posting this later than I wrote it).

…That now much later in the evening, The Boy is sleeping and ‘Moonstruck’ is on the television.

... My winter-themed flannel sheets.

... Peppermint ice cream. It is seasonal which is disappointing, but that does make its reappearance at the end of November and finding that random half gallon in the back of the grocery store freezer in late February oh sooooooo good.

What do you love?

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Fair Enough

Hark! The Herald Angels Sing
You are 'Hark! The Herald Angels Sing'. You take
Christmas very seriously. For you, it is a
religious festival, celebrating the birth of
the Saviour, and its current secularisation
really irritates you. You enjoy the period of
Advent leading up to Christmas, and attend any
local carol services you can find, as well as
the more contemplative Advent church services
each Sunday. You may be involved in Christmas
food collections or similar charity work. The
midnight service at your church, with candles
and carols, is one you look forward to all
year, and you also look forward to the family
get together on Christmas Day.


What Christmas Carol are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

Friday, December 9, 2005

RevGalBlogPals Friday Five - Snowday Edition

1) Snow: Love it or hate it?
LOVE IT! I don’t have to drive in it because I am close to work so there is everything to love.
However TDH is on a whole other level. He has been known to stay outside the ENTIRE day playing with the dog, shoveling and making snow sculptures (very amateur snow sculptures). Once he even brought in the head of his snow tiger because he felt he could do better detail in the sink. It's in his blood, he was born and raised in Minnesota.

2) First Snow Memory
I was 6 and our moving day was set for late January. Of course, there was a huge blizzard, the move was postponed and all I wanted to do was play outside. I remember how patient my Mom was with me as she explained that I couldn’t go outside because the snow would be over my head. It took me until I saw my father attempting to do something outside with snow drifts up to his chest to realize that maybe an inside day was a good idea after all even if all my toys were packed up.

3) Best Snow Day ever (actual or imagined)
Mine is actual. I was older now and a bunch of us were outside playing all day. After dinner we all went out again and the night was still – almost warm – but the air had a magic quality about it. We started playing stickball as if it were summer – adults played too. I remember actually thinking that I never wanted it to end.

4) Best Use of Snow in a Movie, Song, Book or Poem
Well, it might be because the movie is being overwhelmingly promoted, but off the top of my head I would still say the imagery in my head of it always being winter but never Christmas from the book The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe.

5) What are you Planning to do Today with or without Snow
TDH has been shoveling, our new snowplow hire has been struggling (job bigger than the truck he brought), and I have been inside on The Boy duty. Eventually this reprieve will end and I will be at the desk staring at a computer screen where my sermon is supposed to be.We might take more pictures of The Boy a little later, but we already took a few this morning.

We took 40 pictures. In 3 of them he is smiling. In most he is staring at the snow plow. In a few - like this one - he is looking at the camera like: "Are they kidding me with this? It's snow, I get it. I mean really what is there not to get about cold and wet?"

Wednesday, December 7, 2005

Do You Remember When?

I found this all over the net, but I understand it found its start at Faith Or Fiction. I finally took the bait to play the game at bride without spot.

Please post a comment with a COMPLETELY MADE UP AND FICTIONAL MEMORY OF YOU AND ME. It can be anything you want--good or bad--BUT IT HAS TO BE FAKE. When you're finished, post this paragraph on your blog and be surprised (or mortified) about what people DON'T ACTUALLY remember about you.

I was going to give you a PG-13 parameter but suffice it to say this: My Mom reads this blog. 'Nuff said. And to my sister, no fair posting truths masquerading as fiction.

Have fun!

Tuesday, December 6, 2005

Slang of the Times

For reasons I cannot disclose due to the sensitive nature of it being Christmas I needed to get digital pictures from our hard drive over to my computer in my office at work. All the pictures save one would go through by email. So I put that one picture back onto a memory card in our camera and loaded the camera and the cord up to bring over with me to the office in order to download it onto my computer at work directly from the camera.

My husband laughed hysterically at me as I left. Why? Because I grumbled as I went out the door:

“I guess I’ll have to go do this the old fashioned way.”

Sunday, December 4, 2005

JACK FROST!!!

I love snow... except for Sunday mornings. And this morning it is not really snow, but rather ice. There is nothing we can do about it. The plow would do nothing against it. We just have to wait for it to warm up enough to melt it.

Of course, the only people who showed up for Sunday School are the die-hards (read: older folks who have EVERY excuse to skip church when it is an ice rink out there).

Gotta go back out and shovel and spread environmentally hazardous salt.

ADDENDUM: Well, the parking lot only melted a little bit BUT one of the perks of the country church is that it is a matter of pride to get to church when the weather is bad. The place was full - yeah!

Friday, December 2, 2005

Christmas Be Thy Name

Due to some sort of evil joke our home email is the recipient of the American Family Association’s daily email newsletters. (Digression: NO, I will not link their site. YES, I have tried to unsubscribe; when attempted it says that email address does not exist in their files therefore they cannot unsubscribe it. YES, I am looking forward to who may ‘Google search’ their way here thanks to me stating their name in the post. - End of Digression)
Their emails come in about who they are boycotting now and I can never even make it past the first sentence before I am disgusted, sad, and near puking from their mega-judgments and lack of compassion, inclusiveness and those two crazy notions of grace and love.

So when they sent out an email about boycotting various national chains of stores because they refused to use the word ‘Christmas’ in their advertising, I immediately sought out the opposing point of view.

Here is what I came up with:
1) In God’s sense of time – meaning eternal – this is not a big deal. The Eternal Kingdom is the goal, not winning earthly arguments over advertising language.

2) I think God would like us to put our energies into searching for means of peace, sheltering the homeless and reaching out to those in need. I think God might be thinking, “Um, thanks for caring about the name of Christmas, but if y’all could send some aid and figure out the whole Darfur mess you have largely been ignoring – that would be great.”

3) Isn’t this a good thing? As Christians we are not supposed to be ‘wrapped up’ in the retail part of the holiday anyway. As the tracts that my in-laws insist on giving me in their Christmas card every year tells me, "Jesus is the reason for the season" - not tinsel and lights and the latest Hallmark ornament. Is this not what every pastor preaches about at least once per Advent?

These are all great (she humbly typed) but here is where I am now.

NOT CALLING IT CHRISTMAS IS THE STUPIDEST THING I HAVE EVER HEARD!!!

Please hear me out:
I understand that when putting up a retail display that encapsulates the entire November 1st through January 1st frenzy that you might want to say, “Holiday Sale”. This way you are including: Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Junior’s December birthday, New Year’s and any other reason to celebrate people might come up with (I believe Richard Branson is now calling it 'Chrismahanukwanzakah. He is actually marketing ornaments with this saying on it - but that is a rant for another day).

However, when you market Christmas Trees as Holiday Trees THAT IS JUST STUPID!!!

It is what it is and that is a Christmas Tree.

Don’t believe me? Ask a child brought up by folks who do not believe in the religion behind Christmas who was born that day and they might not know. Ask them what that thing in the window is with the green needles and covered in lights and ornaments and I am pretty sure they are going to say: CHRISTMAS TREE!!!

I am not a huge fan of Halloween, but if they started calling it Black and Orange candy instead of Halloween candy I would find that stupid too.

It may be deserved backlash against the current political culture that is masquerading as Christianity (not my Christianity, thank you very much). However, it is STILL stupid. And thank you VERY much for giving me reason to line up in agreement with the likes of Falwell and Robertson - although I am SURE they will take it too far and then once again I can step out of line (actually this has already happened. I have waited far too long for the new Target that is opening soon right near me to go and boycott it now. And I gotta tell you, we are diligent about giving to charities throughout the year and exist on a very strict budget so I don't mind missing the guiltfest that is passing a Salvation Army bell ringer without putting any money in the pot).

The sad part is that it is not just stupid. It is also discrimination. Do not take my word for it though. Check out this editorial found in the Boston Globe written by their columnist, Jeff Jacoby, a practicing Jew. If nothing else check out his last paragraph.

There, I've said it. I am looking forward to your comments whether they agree or disagree. In the meantime, please enjoy this Holiday Time and for God's sake:

MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!

RevGalBlog Pals Friday Meme - Christmas Edition

1) Do you display a nativity scene, and if so, where?
We actually have numerous nativity scenes. I realize it is a bit cliché to be a minister and collect nativity scenes, but that is not how it started. In fact for a few years there I actually argued that I didn’t collect them… but when you start running out of places to put them it is time to admit you have a problem.

Growing up we had two scenes. One was fancy and “not to be touched”. The other was wood and specifically put in a low place for curious little hands. I will do the same for our child(ren?), but have not purchased a true children’ s nativity scene yet.

At our current location we have deep window sills so there are scenes throughout the house. However, my favorite is hanging on the Christmas Tree. It is small, but has 9 pieces including sheep and cow and angel and wise men, etc… It is fun every year to find a way to hang all of the characters of the scene within the confines of the tree branches - front and center, of course.

2) Do you put a skirt under the Christmas tree? If so, what does it look like?
We do, but it is ugly. I hate it. Unfortunately 'tree skirt' never gets too high on my “to buy for Christmas” list. I am big on buying Christmas decorations AFTER Christmas when they are cheaper and of course by then the pretty skirts are gone.

3) Do you hang lights on the house or put them in your windows?
We have candles year long in our windows. TDH is in charge of the outside of the house. He usually uses a variety of spotlights, wreaths and the occasional light strings to decorate.

4) White lights or colored lights on the tree? Big bulbs or the small, pretty ones?
I like white lights better, but we have more colored lights and our artificial tree (it kills me to type that) needs excess lights in order to look good.

TDH does have one string of the retro big bulbs that he drapes around our backyard porch roof. They are sad, but make him happy - so be it.

5) Do you have a tree topper? What sort? Who puts it on top of the tree?
No tree topper. Had a star as a kid and I remember this was the only time my father of Jewish heritage and long, blue collar working hours would step in and help decorate the Christmas tree.

Please stay tuned for my post on not using the word 'Christmas' in stores.

Thursday, December 1, 2005

Gospel Birthday Meme

You may have seen this around. Basically you take the numbers for your birthday and then find the Gospel verses that match. My birthday is May 23rd.

Matthew 5:23 - Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you...
(verse 24 continues: leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift.")

Mark 5:23 - ...and pleaded earnestly with him, "My daughter is dying. Please come and put your hand on her so that she will be healed and live."
This is Jairus pleading for his daughter's life. Great pericope with the hemorrhaging woman bracketed by the journey Jesus makes to visit and heal Jairus' daughter.

Luke 5:23 - Which is easier: to say, 'Your sins are forgiven,' or to say, 'Get up and walk'?

John 5:23 - ...that all may honor the Son just as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father, who sent him.

Cool. I like 'em all.