Friday, March 30, 2007

Friday Five - Easter edition

I have errands to run this morning and afternoon, but I at least wanted to play the Friday Five. I'll try to get on later and get up some pics from the mission trip...

reverendmother writes:
Well, the Clergy Superbowl is almost upon us, and so, I offer up this Friday Five (with apologies for the irreverent title):

1. Will this Sunday be Palms only, Passion only, or hyphenated?
Assuming this Easter will be like previous Easters in my congregation, there will be both. The palsm open the service and then we go through the rest of the passion (since most people don't attend services on Maundy Thursday or Good Friday, the next service they'll see is Easter morning).

2. Maundy Thursday Footwashing: Discuss.
I love it - I think anything experiential that can draw us into the story and the meaning of the Easter holiday and the ministry of Jesus is a good thing. I haven't ever experienced a foot washing in the Methodist Church - growing up in my particular Catholic congregation we always had a foot washing service for what we called Holy Thursday (I didn't know the word Maundy until I hung out with Methodists in college). I know there are people who have issues with smelly feet, ugly feet, dirty feet, etc. but that is EXACTLY the point! The way we did it, each person got their feet washed by someone, and then they sat down and became the washer for the next peron - we all got taken care of and served someone else. It was very powerful and an image of what Christians should be able to be for each other.

3. Share a particularly meaningful Good Friday worship experience.
When I was in college and under no illusions that I was not meant to stay in the Roman Catholic church, I was attending carious services with friends. I tried out several different churches - mostly Methodist since I attended a Methodist college - and had the comfort of knowing that anything I didn't understand, my friend could kind of walk me through and explain. Holy Week- Easter is just done very differently, and I was very surprised and moved enormously when I went to my first Good Friday service. The service was fairly "normal" feeling but things were in a different order with scripture readings spread out throughout the whole service. It ended with the story of the death of Jesus and suddenly, without any kind of warning, the lights went out and everyone walked out in silence. The people who went to church there knew it was coming - this was their annual tradition, but it was so powerful to me because it was a new way to experience it. I'm not sure I would ever do it this way in my own church, except for maybe once just to catch people off guard and really get them thinking about what it would have been like to be there. Theologically, I'm not so sure....

4. Easter Sunrise Services--choose one:
a) "Resurrection tradition par excellence!"
b) "Eh. As long as it's sunrise with coffee, I can live with it."
c) "[Yawn] Can't Jesus stay in the tomb just five more minutes, Mom?!?"

b) I used to love going to my sunrise service when I was working at 9-1-1 just because I usually worked until 7 am and couldn't make myself stay up long enough after work to go to church (our only service was at 10:30 and I was sawing logs by then). The sunrise service worked out perfectly on my way home from work and it seemed appropriate that the one service I could attend out of the year was Easter morning (some of the Catholic in me??). Now though, being in seminary I think makes me almost jaded on the whole thing - I know how much work goes into the planning and I study all of this stuff to the tiniest detail, so it's lost much of it's magic and emotional power. Church in general feels like more of an obligation now than it ever did. Isn't that horrible!??!? Still I like a sunrise service just because it's something different - I just don't know how my sleep schedule will work with all of the papers and projects due for seminary this time of year...

5. Complete this sentence: It just isn't Easter without...
EASTER EGGS! Those crazy colorful, pagan items just make it for me somehow. I don't know what the significance of it is - we didn't do egg hunts every year or anything like that - perhaps it just that I have a great excuse to be creative and have lots of hard boiled eggs to eat for the week following. This year, instead of buying a dye kit, I'm going to try doing it all natural, using fruit, veggies, and herbs to color my eggs. If you're interested in trying it, go to Wild Oats homepage for directions. They seem to bring out more subtle colors, it's something different, and I think it's cool to see what colors we can find in things direct from God's creation rather than processed chemicals.

Bonus: Any Easter Vigil aficionados out there? Please share.
My mom used to take us to Easter Vigil when I was growing up but I think I was too young (or apathetic) to understand the whole point. In seminary I've looked several times (for different classes) at the tradition of the Easter Vigil, particularly the way it's used as a time for baptism into the church and I think it's very powerful and could be really moving for everyone in a congregation. I just don't know any churches that really do it that way anymore.

Have an Easter story you want to share? A unique family tradition, or a suggestion for things to use to color my easter eggs this year? Leave a comment and let me know!

Thursday, March 29, 2007

18 months and counting....

I've been back for a week now and think I've processed my mission trip to Louisiana enough to come up with something coherent - but I'll let you be the judge of that.

Trouble and I left for the Pelican State early Saturday morning ; a 16 drive in a church van is an experience all on its own. :) We basically got to the church (Sweet Lake UMC, see previous post for the link) just in time to set up our living area and crash. Sunday morning we attended our hosts' worship service and then set out for some supplies and a general orientation to the area.

We toured the town of Cameron, which is right on the gulf coast in the southwest section of the state - they got hit by BOTH Katrina and Rita. It's been 18 months since Rita blasted through that area and I could not believe how much destruction is still such a visible, tangible reality. There was still a refrigerator stuck in a tree, shells of homes floating in the marshes by the side of the roads, roof shingles and debris lining the ditches. Cameron is pretty much built on two industries - fishing/shrimping and oil. Helicopters were constantly flying over us as we were driving and walking around the area; there were air fields along the highway set up like helicopter taxi services to take oil rig workers out to the countless rigs we could see on the horizon, out in Gulf waters. From where we stood on the beach, it looked kind of like an "antennae farm" that we have in the urban/suburban areas. The ice house, where fisherman and shrimpers bring their catches and keep them fresh for selling, was still a big shell of a building - no ice to be seen. There was a much smaller, temporary facility in place a little bit down the road, but nothing that will allow for the industry to return to its pre-hurrican size. There were sites with wiped clean foundations sitting next to a trailer - the temporary homes of business and residences alike while everyone saves money and waits for the man power and supplies to rebuild.

One of the most powerful things for me was to go into a Catholic church in the area that had beena large parish with a school and "life center" next door. The building looks as though it's barely been touched in the last 18 months - there are wires, insulation and plastic sheeting hanging everywhere, blowing in the breeze. The chairs and cots for the small children's area are still stacked up along one of the "walls" of what was once their classroom. The sanctuary had dust everywhere, pews misaligned and shoved up towards the front, rust on the lights hanging from the peaked roof (about 15 feet above the ground) and yet I could still smell incense when I approached the altar area. The church looked so much like the church where I made my first communion, and the scent of incense was something so unexpected, I felt like I'd been punched in the gut - I could scarcely breathe and couldn't help but start crying. I took so many pictures, and would love to share some of them, but I'm currently at school and don't have the camera with me, so that will have to wait until the next post. I'll get more into the actual work that we did the rest of the week too. Thanks for "listening"...

Friday, March 16, 2007

Leaving town...

Sweet Lake UMC, Louisiana

Trouble and I are heading out of town in the morning. We're going on a mission trip to Louisiana - way down south on the west side of the state where Hurrican Rita struck more than Katrina. I need to get away and spend time focusing on other people's situations rather than wallowing in my own, so I'm really looking forward to it. The only thing I'm not looking forward to is the 12 hour van ride down there. It's just such a long day to be in a vehicle! The weather is supposed to be warm and we're going to be doing some serious work (nothing relieves stress like some good demolition or hammering). We're staying at Sweet Lake UMC and some of our group has actually been there before, about a year ago, so this will be part reunion. We're a mix of seminary students, church folks from one particular congregation and a few friends thrown in. :) If I only I knew I was packed and ready to go....

Friday Five - Things to Do Today

Name five things you plan to do today.

Bonus: If today is about "have-to" for you as well, share up to five things you'd like to be doing today.

Well, this is an interesting one for me after the week I've had. I'm leaving to go to Louisiana for a week (thank God/dess for Spring Break!) to work in Hurricane Rita territory, spend time with good people and refresh my spirit. Of course, in order to leave in the morning, there have been PLENTY of things for me to get done today. Since this post is coming rather late in the day, I'm naming things I had to get done:

1. laundry (still in progress but I can at least start packing)

2. counseling appt (first thing this morning and definitely needed after these last 2 weeks)

3. Target run (for sunscreen, travel size toiletries, etc.)

4. Babies R Us (to get gift for my sister in law who has her baby shower the day after we get home - my first nephew!!)

5. Veterinarian (get refills of dog's prescription to deliver with dog to friend who is being nice enough to watch her while we're gone - thanks, Rob!!)

If I could have done whatever I wanted to do today, it would have been:
1. read something fiction
2. watch a movie (I'm falling way behind in pop culture again)
3. get a massage (serious stress relief)
4. go for a walk in the park with a friend
5. take a nap

Who knows, there's still time left in the day....

Thursday, March 15, 2007

What's your category?

You scored as Emergent/Postmodern. You are Emergent/Postmodern in your theology. You feel alienated from older forms of church, you don't think they connect to modern culture very well. No one knows the whole truth about God, and we have much to learn from each other, and so learning takes place in dialogue. Evangelism should take place in relationships rather than through crusades and altar-calls. People are interested in spirituality and want to ask questions, so the church should help them to do this.



Neo orthodox


Modern Liberal


Classical Liberal


Roman Catholic


Evangelical Holiness/Wesleyan




Reformed Evangelical




What's your theological worldview?
created with

I thought this was an interesting little quiz - some of the questions are clearly slanted a particular way and it's totally Christian. Can anyone tell me who the guy is that is pictured?? I have a feeling I'm supposed to know who he is... I figured out this is Brian McLaren. Doh! And just for the record, this is not the label I would have given myself. But then again, I'm not a fan of putting label on people and sorting them into little boxes... Perhaps that's the postmodern thing!?

So tiiiiiired...

I've been up a long time - I did manage to get a brief nap between 5:30 and 6 this morning and then again from 1-2:30 this afternoon but I basically pulled an all nighter. Man, I'm just not as young as I used to be. I remember a time when I did this for fun!! I had two papers that needed to be turned in today - the end of two long weeks of school stuff. I got them both done, although it's questionable if I made the deadline on the last one, but at least it's not hanging over my head anymore. I know that was a run on sentence, but that's just how my brain is functioning right now. I know that I have intelligent things that I want to blog about, but it's going to have to wait until I can think again... Oh, and did I mention that graduation is only 9 weeks away??

Friday, March 09, 2007

Friday Five: Matters of Taste

Songbird wrote: My mother loved figs.
I only like them in a Newton.
It's all a matter of taste.

Name five things you like a lot that some close relative or significant other did/does not like. This could be food, movies, hobbies, music, sports or whatever springs to mind.

1. Chocolate (or really desserts in general), I absolutely love and sometimes crave like crazy, but Trouble can pretty much take 'em or leave 'em. Carb addicts shouldn't be married to other carb addicts, I guess, 'cause we'd all be eating horribly (and probably diabetic)! :)

2. Seafood (particularly fish and shrimp) are common fare in our house (especially since Trouble doesn't do meat) but we have good friends who don't eat anything from the ocean. We like to have dinner together but it has to get creative to find things that suit the meat-and-potato crowd as well as the vegetarian.

3. SUSHI!! I'm guessing this is just one of those things - you either love it or hate it. I admit I was skeptical about eating sushi at first, but Trouble talked me into trying some (my choice on what we ordered that day). I don't eat the raw fish stuff, but I love all different kinds of rolls (especially the unagi/eel and the eel sauce). We have some friends who go along but SO many of them will not. :(

4. Seminary - there is just something about the books, conversations, concepts, theories, etc that I soak in. Trouble is a great thinker and conversationalist but she feels in over her head (and I totally get that - this is why pastors talk very differently in seminary than they do in their churches) when I get going on particulars (like epistemology, which is one of my favorites).

5. Cats - I'm definitely a cat person; I grew up with two cats and just speak their language. Trouble grew up with dogs and is totally a dog person. We have one of each, but Dakotah is clearly Trouble's dog (beagle) and Kai was my gift from Trouble several years ago before she left for several months. What's been very interesting to watch over the years is how the dog and cat relate to each other - I swear they teach each other very weird stuff!! Does anyone else have a cat who like to make a den in the bed covers??

Thursday, March 08, 2007

First Rejection

Well, I'm a little dejected at the moment. I had my first rejection from a job that I really wanted. I applied for an ecumenical, faith based organizing job that dealt with LGBT acceptance in the church and I would have really loved it I think. I knew I didn't have a lot of experience, but I was adequately trained for the job and knew some of the people I would have been working with, so I figured I had as good a shot as anyone. I got my email today saying that I wasn't chosen as a finalist (i.e. they didn't need me to come in for an interview). Oh well. I'm trying to think positive - I don't have to move now and I won't have to deal with the very cold weather there. The search continues....

Monday, March 05, 2007

I think I lost my mind!

This was an interesting weekend - and not in a good way. So before anyone makes a crack about the need to have something first in order to lose it, let me explain the scenario. Trouble and I were going to meet a group of hospital coworkers at a bar. We don't usually go out on Saturday nights and I hadn't really thought about how crowded things were going to be. This particular bar is near a movie theater and a mall, so as you can imagine there were a lot of people trying to park and empty spots were hard to come by. We pulled into a spot in front of a restaurant, got out of our vehicle, and an employee of said restuarant came outside just to tell us that we had to move - that the spot was reserved for restaurant patrons only. That was the beginning of my anger.

I began walking to the bar to at least let our group of people know that we had arrived and that Trouble was looking for a place to park. While she got in the vehicle, I was walking past the restaurant that had just booted us and I looked in the window to see 2 tables out of the whole place that were occupied. It wasn't like they had a line if people waiting to get in either. UGH! As I got nearer to the bar, I saw a couple of people walking out to their cars, so I called Trouble on her cell phone and told her to come back over there (she had driven to a location farther off) and I would grab ond of the spots. I waited for an SUV to pull out of its spot and then went and stood in it looking for Trouble to come back around, but a white car tried to pull in with me standing there. Now, I know some people might see standing in a parking spot somewhat childish, but it was really cold, spots were at a premium and it was about to get a whole lot worse.

The driver of the car started right off telling me to "move out of the f-ing way" to which I replied that I was there and my friend was taking that spot - that we had been waiting. The driver clearly didn't like that answer, and at this point Trouble had arrived in her truck. The guy refused to move and kept telling me to get out of the way (not very nicely) - which just got me pissed off. I'll be the first to admit that I don't do well with anger and I can be stubborn - I was not going to let this guy just walk over me. I looked him straight in the eye and said, " What are you going to do run over me? Bring it on!" Oh, God. How stupid was I being?! He revved the engine and proceeded to move the car from feet away from me to inches away from me - and Trouble then got pissed and also move her truck from within feet away from his car to very close. It was getting ugly fast. At that point I started yelling at the guy that what he had just done was assault and called the cops. I used to work for 911 and I hated crap calls like this. I knew the whole thing was stupid but I was mad and didn't know what else to do. The operator tried to talk me down and get me to just move from the spot (after all I didn't know if this guy had a gun or something crazy) but I refused to back down.

I stood there for several minutes waiting for the cops - and it was VERY cold outside. I don't have any idea how many minutes I was standing there but while I was I had all kinds of crazy thoughts going through my head. At one point I had calmed down enough to think about how ridiculous this was - how annoyed the cops were going to be, and how UN-Christian I was behaving. I hoped that another car would pull out of the lot, even closer to the bar door and that Trouble would just go take that one and I could walk away with some feeling of righteousness but it didn't happen. The cops came, took our information and basically made me move out of the spot anyway. We parked a block or so away at another restaurant (that didn't kick us out) and walked back in to the restaurant/bar to meet our friends. The driver of the other car was also going in there and we thought we saw him writing down our tag number, but just left it alone. I was still just mad - both at that guy and at myself for getting so carried away. And I know I had made Trouble mad too, which isn't an easy thing to do.

Once we got inside and found our group of people, I just felt like I wanted to throw up. I didn't want to eat anything (although I had been starving before we got there) and just felt thirsty. I drank some water and a couple of people tried to ask us about what happened but I couldn't really talk about it. I had so much emotion and no outlet so I just started crying. And this only makes me feel worse - I HATE crying in front of people, and it clearly didn't make any of them feel very comfortable. Is this just a "whiny girl" thing? I definitely don't want to be one. I don't like to be angry and I don't really know what to do with it when I am, but I know this whole thing was inappropriate in a number of ways. What would you have done? Any suggestions for next time? Ideas for how to deal with anger in general? I wonder if I would have acted in the same way had the driver been a female or not cussed at me right off the bat. Hmmm....

Saturday, March 03, 2007

RevGal Friday Five: Artsy Crafty

Some of you may have noticed that I joined the RevGal Blog Ring recently - thought it might be fun to link up with some of the fabulous women (and friends) who are out there facing some similar struggles and joys! That said, here's my first Friday Five (a day late while I procrastinate on papers) - and please feel free to share some of your own answers in the comments.

1. Would you call yourself "creative"? Why or why not?
not really - i want to be, but feel like it takes a lot of effort and just doesn't come naturally. i think that's part of why i left music....

2. Share a creative or artistic pursuit you currently do that you'd like to develop further.
sadly, i don't think i really have any creative pursuits. i do enjoy taking pictures and have always wanted to take a photography class to learn the proper way to do it, but am not about to give up my automatic, digital camera.

3. Share a creative or artistic pursuit you have never done but would like to try.
stained glass - i've heard it's very time consuming, expensive and tricky but the results are so beautiful!!

4. Complete this sentence: "I am in awe of people who can _____________."
write music, especially if they play an instrument and sing at the same time.

5. Share about a person who has encouraged your creativity, who has "called you to your best self." (I'm pretty sure that's from the Gospel of Oprah.)
Well, the obvious answer would be my partner (who uses the alias "Trouble" in the blogosphere) - her creativity and willingness to encourage me and help me be a better person is one of the biggest things that drew me to her and continues to keep me in love. SAPPY, I know. :) I honestly believe though that she helps me be the person I was created by God to be.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

The Aftershocks Continue...

Many of you may not have been around Q&R this far back, but in November 2005 I began this blog as a place to process and vent about a decision made by the United Methodist Church regarding the authority of a pastor to determine who could and could not join the UMC. The statement stemmed from a case in Virginia where a pastor refused to let a gay man join the church solely because he refused to "repent" of his sinful homosexuality (and sinners who refuse to stop sinning shouldn't be allowed to be in the church??). The bishop of the VA conference suspended the pastor for insubordination after several attempts to reason with him, and the action was appealed up to the Judicial Council (the UMC's "supreme court"). In Decision #1032 the council stated that "the pastor in charge of a United Methodist church or charge is solely responsible for making the determination of a person's readiness to receive the vows of membership." This decision has led to all kinds of discussion throughout the UMC - and not even mostly about homosexuality, but more generally about membership in the UMC - what it means and what the steps are to being admitted.

The General Board of Higher Education and Ministry (GBHM) hosted a consultation the middle of February to invite people from across the denomination to converse together about the implications of this decision. These are people from all levels and political opinions and the UM News Service wrote a nice article on the consultation here. I'm posting it because I think (1) it's interesting that there is enough conversation going on that one of our boards decided it needed to be formally addressed; (2) the article does a good job laying out several of the issues involved with this decision; and (3) I think it's important for people, especially those of the United Methodist Church, to understand what's going on and what the conversation is all about. SO, I encourage you all to read it for yourselves and share your thoughts....

Schedule your Appointment Today!

For the beginning of Lent, my pastor was talking about this being a season in the Church when we are asked to really contemplate the quality of our relationship with God. In my background as a Catholic, this is a little different for me - I'm used to Lent being a time to contemplate how sinful we are, all the of the ways in which we "are the ones who kill Jesus." I don't really see Lent than way anymore, although I think a healthy dose of reality when it comes to looking at ourselves is a good thing.

Anyway, I don't know if this was because of something specific that my pastor said or if it's just how my crazy brain works, but I totally got this picture of a couple in marriage counseling. There's me and God sitting in the pastor's office, trying to work on our relationship, bettering our communication and finding ways to show our feelings in ways that will be better appreciated by the other. Can you see it?
God: She just doesn't seem to understand what I need from her. I feel like I'm totally taken for granted.
Me: It's not that I take you for granted, it's just that I'm so busy with so many other things... I know you're always going to be there.
Pastor: God, what is it specifically you'd like to see Mandy do?
God: I just want her to take some time to talk with me and really listen to what I have to say in response. And maybe a date night every now and then.
Me: I try to listen, but sometimes you aren't very clear in what you're saying. And you're right, I do need to talk to you more often. We're nothing if we can't talk with each other honestly.

I highly doubt my pastor would be comfortable, and there are obvious issues here, but it does give a new twist to thinking about the way in which I relate with God. So, as heretical as it may be, I'm choosing to look at Lent this year as my own personal "counseling season" - and I bet there's going to be homework!