Tuesday, November 30, 2010

A Foot in Each Season

I know Advent has begun and I'm ready for it and I'm feeling the need (pressure) to write something about it. The 1st Sunday of Advent was beautiful and I feel like my soul has moved into this season.

However, I've not blogged over the Thanksgiving holiday and I feel the need (on this last day of November) to make one last nod toward Thanksgiving before I move on. So here it goes...

In my sermon on Thanksgiving Sunday I challenged our congregation to be more willing to share our gratitude. Twenty years ago I worked retail and remember being told that when customers go away upset they tell at least 10 (if not more) while when they go away happy they may tell no one. This has stuck with me and I wonder about it. And so I challenged people to make sure we express our thanks and even share it.

In that line of thinking, I want to share some recent pleasant experiences (of many varieties)...

1) Although not the most significant one on the list, I have to give a big "hurrah" to our birthday party experience at Chuck E. Cheese's. Can I be honest here? I didn't expect to have rave reviews of said birthday party. I really thought I'd just endure it for the sake of my now-five-year-old. And frankly when I first looked at the brochure my primary thought was that it was a little pricey. However, it was a GREAT birthday party! We did it on a Saturday morning (yes, they open at 9 a.m. - who knew?) and so we were virtually the only people there. We got personal attention. Everything was well organized and happened in a timely fashion. When we left both the five-year-old and his mommy had smiles!

2) The week before Thanksgiving we got family pictures taken. Yesterday we got to view the proofs and I couldn't be happier. In fact I keep looking at them wondering where that lovely family came from. :) Our photographer, Kelly, and his wife, Ronda, were wonderful and the pictures really are art. If you happen to live in SW Missouri, let me recommend Kelly Lawson Photography.

3) If you know me in person, you'll know that I love Iowa. I've referred to it before as the place of my birth and the home of my heart. We were there for Thanksgiving and again I was reminded about how grateful I am for the place where I grew up. Although the people around me certainly had the greatest influence, I believe that much of who I am is very connected with that place.

4) I am grateful to pastor this wonderful church in SW Missouri. I think too seldom do we who serve in this way pause with wonder and gratitude at the many ways people invite us in to their lives and trust us with their deepest selves. I stand in awe.

5) I am a proud owner of a Hyundai Santa Fe and would recommend this little SUV again and again. As we were on the road adding hundreds more miles to the 120,000+ it already has, I was realizing how reliable it has been and how safe we feel in it.

6) As this month of Thanksgiving comes to a close I am grateful for my husband, my children, my parents, my sister, my grandparents, my friends, my clergy colleagues...so many people who love me in spite of myself, who keep me grounded and remind me who I am, who share life with me...people to whom I don't often enough say "thank you."

So, what are you thankful for? What big or little experiences would you like to shout from the rooftop (or at least post a little something about)?

Thursday, November 18, 2010


Five years ago today the day started with me receiving medication to induce labor. I was eleven days overdue and my body did not seem to want to let go of this child. The night before I had checked in to the hospital where they began the process of softening my cervix (which didn't seem to want to dialate) in order to prepare for inducing labor. By late afternoon, after 2 1/2 hours of pushing, my firstborn did finally emerge.

Today he turns 5 years old. What is amazing to me is that there are so many ways he has changed in five years (too numerous to count or name) and yet there are so many ways that he is just the same. In both of these I am reminded that he is just who he needs to be and that I am lucky to know him, to love him and to call him my child.

Happy Birthday, my sweet boy!

Monday, November 15, 2010

We Need Each Other

I've often said that one of my favorite things about the congregation I serve is that we have all generations of people here.

Since having children I've rejoiced that my boys have personal relationships with people 100 years older than them (yes, we have several over 100 in our congregation!) and relationships with people of every age in between. These relationships combined with their wonderful grandparents relationships make a difference.

I was reminded of my joy at this multi-generational group today because of what Sarah wrote. I was reminded of it not only for my children, but for myself.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Spelling Matters

Today as we were in the check out lane at the grocery store, the four-year-old took the grocery list and my pen and found a hard surface so he could write. He brought it back to show me and this was the conversation that followed:

Him: Look what I wrote, Mom.

Me: Wow - I love you, Mom - thank you.

Him: Well, I was going to write - I don't like you, Mom - but I couldn't spell it.

Guess I'm glad for what he doesn't know. And I'm thinking we'll be careful what we teach him to spell!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Quick Takes, #20: Recipe Edition

Okay, earlier I listed my favorite fall/winter recipes...but now...here are the actual recipes!

#1: My mom's lasagna:

8 oz box lasanga noodles
1 lb ground beef
1/2 lb sausage
1 can prepared spaghetti sauce
24 oz cottage cheese
2 eggs (beaten)
1/2 c. parmesan cheese
1 t. black pepper
8 oz mozarella slices
8 oz shredded mozarella

Use 9 x 13 (or next size bigger) pan. Grease pan. Preheat oven to 350 degree.
Cook noodles.
Brown hamburger and sausage, drain, add spaghetti sauce and simmer.
Mix cottage cheese, eggs, parmesan, and pepper.

Layer in pan as follows: noodles, meat sauce, mozarella slices, cottage cheese mixture (do twice).
Top with shredded mozarella.

Bake for 1 hour. Let stand 10 to 15 minutes before cutting and serving.

#2: Cheesey Corn Chowder

3 medium potatoes, peeled and cut small
1 c. water
2 t. chicken boullion
1/8 t. ground red pepper
dash black pepper
3 c. milk
10 oz frozen corn
2 T. flour
6 oz Velveeta cheese (1 1/2 cups)

In large saucepan combine potatoes, water, boullion, red and black peppers. Bring to boiling. Reduce heat. Cover & simmer 10 - 15 minutes or until potatoes are tender.

Stir in 2 1/2 c. milk and corn. In small bowl combine other 1/2 c. milk with flour. Add to potato mixture. Cook and stir over medium heat. Melt in cheese.

#3: Maidrites

5 lbs ground beef
1 t. salt
1/2 c. chopped onion
1/2 c. oatmeal
1 1/4 c. ketchup
2 T mustard
1/2 t chili powder
1/4 c. vinegar
1/2 c. brown sugar

Brown ground beef, salt and onion. While browning mix other ingredients. Put meat in crock pot. Mix sauce in and cook on low.

#4: Potato Soup

6 - 7 medium potatoes
1 medium onion
1/2 stick butter or margarine
8 oz cream cheese
1 can cream of mushroom
1 can cream of celery
1 T garlic salt
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 c. milk

Cut potatoes into small cubes and dice onions. Cover with water and boil until tender.

Melt in butter and cream cheese. Add other ingredients, stir well.

#5: Taco Potato Cassarole

1 lb. ground beef
1 can creamed corn
1 pkg taco seasoning
1 20 oz package prepared mashed potatoes
1/2 c. shredded cheddar cheese
1 egg

Brown ground beef. Drain. Add creamed corn and taco seasoning.
While meat is browning mix potatoes, cheese and egg and set aside.
Place meat mixture in square baking dish. Top with potato mixture.
Bake at 375 degrees for 25 - 30 minutes

#6: Cherry Chocolate Cake

1 Chocolate Fudge Cake Mix
2 Eggs
1 t Almond Extract
1 can cherry pie filling

Combine cake mix, eggs and almond extract then add pie filling. Pour in greased 9 x 13 pan. Bake 18 - 22 minutes at 350 degrees.

Frosting Ingredients:
1 c. sugar
1/3 c. milk
1/3 c. butter or margarine
1 c. chocolate chips

Combine sugar, milk and butter in saucepan. Add chocolate chips - melt. Pour frosting over warm cake. Refrigerate.

#7: Oatmeal Cookies

1 c. butter or margarine (soften)
1 c. brown sugar
1 c. sugar
2 egges
1 t vanilla
1 t butter flavor
1 1/2 c. flour
1 t salt
1 t baking soda
3 1/2 c. oatmeal

Combine all ingredients. Bake on ungreased cookie sheet for 12 minutes at 310 degrees.


Quick Takes, #20

Today's Quick Takes are going to be very quick (and thus, I'll warn you - not all that helpful). What's on my mind? The things I love to cook in the fall and winter. I stayed home yesterday and did some cooking, so there you have it. I'm sharing. However, I'm not at home right now, so I don't have the recipes, so I'll just tell you my favorite things to cook and leave you recipe-less. If something sounds yummy, let me know...I'll get the recipe to you. Or, if I get it together, I'll post them later.

So, without further ado...my favorite fall/winter foods to cook...

#1: My mom's lasagna (I swear, she makes the best - I think the combo of hamburger and sausage is the secret, oh, and lots of cheese!)

#2: Cheesy Corn Chowder (let's just acknowledge Velveeta makes everything yummy!)

#3: Maidrites (if that term means nothing to you, think Sloppy Joes that aren't so sloppy, think loose mean sandwiches...my step-mom shared a wonderful recipe that I love!)

#4: Potato Soup (this recipe is from one of my favorite restaurants from when I lived in Lexington, KY - no watery soup here, it's rich with cream cheese, creamed soups, and butter!)

#5: Taco Potato Cassarole (a simple recipe, but warm and nourishing and a great combination of flavors that surprised me when I first had it)

#6: Chocolate Cherry Cake (gooey, yummy, sugary sweet...what more needs to be said?)

#7: Oatmeal Cookies (my hubby's recipe makes the best of this old favorite...and no matter how many times I try, I still can't make them taste as good as he does!)

Is anyone else hungry?

And really, if any of these sound particularly good, let me know - I'll get you the recipe. Meanwhile, I will try to get back and post recipes, but feel free to badger me!

Now, go post your Quick Takes over here with Jennifer or see what others are talking about.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Bigger Picture #14: The Holy Mundane

Let me start with a confession...I didn't really find the Bigger Picture this week. A good friend did that for me. I'm just passing it on and living into it.

Tuesday night we walked into the room where our church board meeting is held. A friend, also there for board, came with her unfolded laundry, pictures needing to be sorted, grocery lists and menu planning worksheets. She began asking others to help with these tasks and before you knew it several were folding her family's clothes, I was writing out a menu and checking items off her grocery list, another friend was sorting her pictures. She simply commented that she was so far behind that in order to be in attendance she needed to bring things with her and multitask during this time.

As usual the meeting began with a devotion. She happened to the be the one doing it. As she began to speak all of this came together - this wasn't really just about having too much to do (although she certainly does) but it was an object lesson for us. She spoke about a book that a mutual friend of ours had given us both years ago: Quotidian Mysteries by Kathleen Norris. (If you aren't familiar with that book, it's worth reading.)

In Quotidian Mysteries Kathleen Norris talks about finding the holy in the mundane, those usual, regular, often thankless tasks we do day after day, week after week. She speaks specifically of laundry and other "women's work."

After reading this book, my friend began to see her tasks as a wife, mother and keeper of the home differently. She began to pray for her children as she folded their laundry. She began to recognize not only the mundane but also the loving and necessary nature of these tasks she did each day. And it changed her.

I have heard her speak of this often throughout the years and I have worked to practice it - some days doing better, some days worse. Today I am grateful for her reminder this week. I am home...taking a day off. And as I am cleaning and cooking, I am holding my husband and my children, those who share this household and those who will enter it, in my prayers. The work is different today. And so am I.

Go on over to Melissa's place today and share your Bigger Picture Moment or read some others.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

God Our Parent

Sarah at Emerging Mummy wrote something beautiful today about her love for her children and God's love for us.

Take a minute. Go read it.

You'll be glad you did.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Religion vs. Spirituality: Follow Up #1

Some time ago (late September) I asked you all to do me a favor and play a little word game with me. I asked for you to tell me what you first thought of when you heard the following two words:



You did a great job of responding and I want to share what you said and get your reactions.

Religion: communal, rules, Pharisees, extremes, history, culture's answer, distancing from God, God in a box, label.

Spirituality: me, zen, passion, expression of belief, real life interplay, between God and created beings, untamed, life giving, awesome.

Before I write my response to these lists and to this conversation about/between religion and spirituality, I'd be interested to hear your reactions when you see those lists of words.

Do they make sense to you?

Is there anything you would add to the list for either religion or spirituality?

When everyone's responses are put together does it change the way you hear these words?

Thanks for being companions on this journey I'm on.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Quick Takes, #19

#1: This past Sunday I got to dedicate our grandbaby in worship. During our dedication services we ask questions of both the parents and the congregation - questions of unconditional love and acceptance, of responsibility, of commitment. I am so proud of his young parents for their dedication to him and to each other. I was so proud of them Sunday as they brought him to our church to commit themselves and ask the help of the community as they raise him to love God. And yet the most beautiful moment had nothing to do with what his parents or the community said. Rather, it was at the end of the service, as I held him up in the midst of our congregation and asked God's blessing on this child. See, as a "church person" my natural instinct is to close my eyes during prayer. I did that as I began this prayer of blessing. Yet, a few words in, I felt the need to look at him, and when I did I was greeted by his big eyes taking in each word and a radiant smile on his face. I couldn't look away. And as I spoke words of prayer directed at God while looking in the face of this amazing child, that just seemed right. For there, in his eyes and in his smile it was God I was seeing.

#2: I love fall. And I'm glad it's here!

#3: I just finished reading a delightful book entitled The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. It was a beautiful read, written as a series of letters between characters, set in post-WWII Europe. Thanks, Sarah, for shaing it. I'd definitely recommend it.

#4: I'm concerned about our nation. I'm not one to write a lot about politics. In fact, I'm quite aware that I don't stay as on top of what's going on as I should. And, although I am a registered Democrat, I think this is about more than an election in which many Republicans won. I'm just concerned...concerned about how alienated we seem to be from each other, concerned about our seeming inability to see another's perspective, concerned about our lack of desire for give and take/compromise. We watch this happen in politics, but it's not only there. And I'm concerned.

#5: I miss my hometown and my family. Although I've lived away all of my adult life, I have times when that distance feels more difficult. Now is one of those times. No real reason, nothing wrong where I am, just longing for home.

#6: For some time I have largely neglected collegial relationships. It wasn't an intentional act, it was just that once I was married and had children, I discovered that my time was limited. And it seemed that I had enough to do just to get things done in my congregation and home that I neglected much else. However, recently that's changed and I meet regularly with a group of clergy who renew my spirit. It's very good.

#7: I haven't eaten all my kids' Halloween candy...you should be impressed!

For more Quick Takes visit Jennifer.

Bigger Picture #13: Holding

I was visiting RevGalBlogPals today and noticed the Thursday prayer. It is a prayer written by Janet Morley published in The Book of a Thousand Prayers. It begins:

and you held me and there were no words
and there was no time and you held me
and there was only wanting and
being held and being filled with wanting
and I was nothing but letting go
and being held
and there were no words and there
needed to be no words

As I read it, I was very aware of my sense that this was talking about the God/human relationship and also the parent/child relationship. I don't know what you hear when you read her words, or what Ms. Morley intended, but I hear a relationship of comfort and security, a relationship of mutuality, a relationship of balance, a relationship of presence.

Again I am reminded that the holding we do of our children, the speaking, the not speaking, the hurrying, the patience, the holding on, the letting go...all of it speaks of God, whether we intend it or not. It reflects our understandings. It teaches them theirs. Parenting is a powerful gift. May we live it well.

For more Bigger Picture Moments visit Hyacynth.

And, if you'd like to read the whole prayer, pop on over here.