Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Big Event

It's mid-afternoon and I'm finally about to start packing for the RevGals "Big Event". I got delayed by an email from Queenie and Doc asking me to sing at their wedding which made me a bit verklempt.

So talk amongst yourselves. Here's your topic: How can it be that the most economical option for our meeting turned out to be a long weekend on a cruise ship?

Ok. I'm better now. I promise a full report (within a reasonable time) after getting back Monday afternoon. It will be fun to travel and room with the lovely and gracious zorra and my friend Mary who will be our "retreat" leader. There will be no blogging while away because the cost of internet access on the ship is Ginormous.

Monday, March 24, 2008

The Tour de Showers

This weekend was aptly named "The Tour de Showers" by St. Betty's daughter, the lovely and witty Jane Long.Portia's friend, Queenie, was here for Easter with her fiance' Doc (my nephew), and with their wedding looming early in June this was the opportunity for the Texas relatives to put on the dog. So to speak.

The Tour began Friday evening with Portia's lingerie shower for Queenie and friends at a local Italian restaurant. We had a lovely private room that featured a classical Roman-style bas-relief on the wall which was soon adorned with all manner of fancy undies, much to the glee of the waiters.

Saturday afternoon several of SIL's friends hosted another shower in a home. The refreshments were dainty and delicious, the presents were plentiful, and best of all, two of SIL's childhood friends drove down from the Dallas area for the day to attend! That was truly awesome. For those of you who aren't familiar with Texas distances, that means they put in about 10 hours in the car that day. That's friendship, isn't it?

That evening we gathered at the home of my SIL and BIL for hamburgers and all the fixin's. Beatrice and Olivia got to come, too, to the great delight of all the little cousins. So the next day after attending Easter services (FAB music!), and brunch with a big group of friends, everyone Chez QG collapsed in a post-shower heap. Except for DK who spent the rest of the afternoon playing tennis, and El Jefe who was glued to March Madness on TV.

Next weekend Portia and Babs will be attending Queenie's bachelorette party. Some of us old fogey-ettes are wondering when bachelorette parties got started. Clearly getting married these days takes a LOT more stamina than it did in my day.

Stop the Tour, it's time for me to get off!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

The Presby-Meme

Shawn has tagged me for the Presbyterian Meme going around the PresbyBlogosphere. Thanks, Shawn!

Here goes....

* in about 25 words each, answer the following five questions;
* tag five presbyterian bloggers and send them a note to let them know they were tagged;
* be sure to link or send a trackback to this post;

1. What is your earliest memory of being distinctly Presbyterian?

Hearing my father expound on the virtues of the Presbyterian tenet of the equality of the laity and the clergy. This was probably in the context my asking about the Catholic nuns (pre-Vatican II in the old style habits) that we used to see regularly in the grocery store because their convent was nearby. I was probably about 5 or 6 at the time.

2. On what issue/question should the PC(USA) spend LESS energy and time?

Internal denominational disputes.

3. On what issue/question should the PC(USA) spend MORE energy and time?

Evangelism and Outreach.

4. If you could have the PC(USA) focus on one passage of scripture for an entire year, what would it be?

Great question! I would really like to have the PCUSA read the entire Bible in a year (or 90 days) because of our tendency to focus on brief passages, thereby sometimes losing the context.

In the spirit of the meme, however, I'll choose Romans 8:28-39 because it is a wonderfully concise statement of reform theology.

5. If the PC(USA) were an animal what would it be and why?

A cat. Just try to herd it!

UPDATE: I overlooked the extra credit question, and y'all know what an overachiever I am, so....

Extra Credit: Jesus shows up at General Assembly this year, what does he say to the Presbyterian Church (USA)?
"Truly, truly I say to you that God so loved the world that he did NOT send a committee."

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

I Spy

the first bluebonnets of the season at the intersection of Highway 59 and Sweetwater Boulevard in Sugar Land.

Woo-Hoo! Spring is now officially sprung.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

TMI Department: Weather Division

Ever since Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, it seems to me that our local television weatherpersons have decided that they can't give us too much information or too many dire warnings about the weather. If there's any possibility of severe weather they deluge us with constant warnings and alerts.

So, unfortunately, El Jefe has become obsessed with weather forecasts lately. I think it all began when he realized that his Blackberry could display the latest radar screen from the Weather Service. And that he could "refresh" the aforementioned screen approximately once every three minutes if he had a mind to. And believe me, he has a mind to.

We've been under a tornado warning all afternoon and he just came in and flashed that little screen at me so I could see the severe weather was moving more slowly that expected. Great. Like I can do anything about it other than fret.

The result of all this TMI is to ratchet up the fret quotient Chez QG exponentially. El Jefe knows exactly when the local tv news on each network broadcasts its forecasts and woe betide us if we miss it. Then for good measure he checks the computer for the latest radar just to confirm or contradict what he just heard.

Resident therapist Babs pointed out to her dad that he was displacing his anxiety about having too much work onto the weather. A sage observation that EJ actually agreed with. Not that agreeing with it has helped much, though.

Someone recently asked me if I could predict the weather with my bad knee. Not really, but El Jefe doesn't have to know that. Maybe I can convince him that twinges from my knee are more reliable that the Blackberry weather radar site? ~sigh~ I didn't think so, either.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Traditional Holy Week "Surprise"

For the past few years a "surprise" hits the media outlets that seemingly challenges or undercuts the basic tenets of Christianity during Holy Week. Sometimes its an archeological artifact or "lost" gospel manuscript which later is shown to be either a hoax or not "new" information after all and sometimes it is a book with a controversial thesis.
So I'd been wondering what Holy Week Surprise we'd be treated to this year and was just about to conclude that the very early Easter date might interfere with this newly evolving "tradition" when I read on Ben Witherington's blog that Bart Ehrman's new book, titled God's Problem, may fit the bill. I haven't read the book yet but Witherington links to a reviewer that has, so you can check it out here.

The last Ehrman book I read suffered from the author's determination to make his research fit his thesis rather than allowing his research to shape his thesis. So I wouldn't be surprised to see this be once again more Ehrman's problem than God's problem. God's problem in this book is the problem of suffering--which is a profound theological question indeed. However anyone who has read the entire Bible knows that it teaches that believers will have suffering in this world but that God will be with us in that suffering.

As Witherington notes, Ehrman is continuing to react to his early religious background which was very conservative and literal in its interpretation of Christianity. A professor of religion at UNC-Chapel Hill, he is now an agnostic rather than a believer. I've listened to many of his lectures for The Learning Company and find that he is a talented lecturer and scholar. He's clearly still wrestling with Christianity, and I pray that at some Holy Week in the future Ehrman will surprise us again with a return to a newly understood faith.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Palm Sunday Third Blogversary

My azaleas and other spring flowers in the front yard are blooming their little hearts out on this gorgeous Palm Sunday in Sugar Land.

Today is also the third anniversary for Quotidian Grace, the blog. What a blessing this has been. Thanks be to God for the "nudge" that started me blogging, and thanks to all the wonderful Gentle Readers and Presbybloggers who've stopped by here to comment and encourage me in this venture.

Have a blessed Holy Week!

Friday, March 14, 2008

Good News About Barnabus Ministry in Houston

Memorial Drive Presbyterian Church in Houston (full disclosure: this is the church where we are members) has an innovative mission and ministry program called Barnabus Ministry. The goal of Barnabus is to create one new congregation each year. MDPC funds the research into appropriate areas of growth, funds the start-up costs and calls an organizing pastor to the staff of MDPC to begin the new ministry.

News about the progress of the latest effort--a new congregation in a Hispanic area of Houston close to MDPC--is detailed in this very nice article on the PCUSA website.

This Sunday family friends who are also members of MDPC are donating a baby grand piano to this new congregation. The piano belonged to their late wife and mother who was a dedicated church musician and music teacher. I'm sure she would be very pleased to see her piano at home with this new growing congregation and it will be a fitting memorial to her.

I wish good news like this got the same amount of attention that the negative news about the denomination gets in the media. Really, we are doing some things in the PCUSA besides arguing about property and ordination standards. Thanks to Presbyweb for linking this article to their website!

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Presbyteries of the Future?

The Presbyterian Global Fellowship posted a report from the Way Forward Task Force of San Diego Presbytery. You can read the post here:Lead as a Presbytery in a Post-Denominational Setting.

The report has a lot of meat for a short report. I'm not sure how some of the ideas can be implemented, or whether they all should be, but certainly there is a lot to think about and discuss. Some presbyteries are already trying to do some of the things suggested. For example, New Covenant Presbytery is trying to limit the business at presbytery meetings to essentials so that we can bring in special speakers and celebrate the ministries of our churches.

Emphasis on scheduling meetings so people who work is very important--that will also help bring in the "next generation elders" to the meetings as commissioners. Most of our younger elders work full time and can't take off in the middle of the week for presbytery meetings, so the meetings are dominated by the older generation. This year all of our presbytery meetings are on Saturdays, which is probably not the favorite day for the ministers, but it should help get broader representation from our elder commissioners. Except during soccer and baseball season!

Enticing people to attend presbytery meetings is a tall order. We've tried some innovative things, but attendance is not what we'd like to see. Post-denominationalism resists traditional meeting formats, in my opinion, so The Way Forward report will be a challenge to implement. It will be interesting to see how things go in San Diego Presbytery.

Monday, March 10, 2008

BIND Update

It's been a while since I updated our progress in Bible in 90 Days. This week we're finishing Jeremiah and then on to Lamentations and Daniel. We're in week 10 of 14 weeks!

This is the third time I've done this and this time I'm finding myself particularly intrigued by reading Jeremiah. Could it be the influence of the election season subjecting me to the "jeremiads" of politicos on the right and the left that make it seem particularly relevant now?

Likewise reading the apocalyptic book of Daniel will probably take on a new meaning during the presidential primary elections. One could get totally sidetracked trying to interpret the symbolism of that book in the light of national and international issues.


Sunday, March 09, 2008

Double the Fun or Double Trouble?

For the past few weekends Beatrice has been enjoying visits from PuppyPal and HalfSister Olivia who lives with Portia and DK. In fact, last week Olivia (and Portia) spent the week with us while DK was out of town on business.

We noticed that Beatrice missed Olivia, and seemed to go around the house looking for her. At night she was more clingly than usual, too.

So we got to thinking that maybe it would be good to get another dachsie to be a companion for Beatrice.

On the one hand, with Babs moving out soon, Beatrice who is still just a puppy and lively, will be stuck with two older folks who can be out of the house a lot. We'd feel better about leaving her if she wasn't alone. Olivia and Beatrice entertain each other and wear each other out. And they're so cute doing it!

On the other hand, Beatrice is just getting trained and knows what we expect. Starting over with a new dog is not an appealing prospect in the short run. In the long run, however, it could be worth it, but when Olivia comes to visit then there would be 3 dogs. Will that be crazy-making?

El Jefe isn't convinced and I'm not sure about it either. We'd like a young dog, but not a puppy, but we don't think we would be good with a rescue dog for a lot of reasons. I've been watching the website of the Dachshund Ranch where we got Beatrice because occasionally they have one or two year old dogs for adoption.

Any advice on what to consider in making this decision or choosing a second dachsie who would get along with Beatrice would be appreciated.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

St. Betty's Texas Primary Election Report

Since the flu kept me from my usual post at my precinct yesterday, I phoned St. Betty this morning to get a report "on the ground" from her about the day's events at the Texas primary.

First of all, she reported that 20% of our county and precinct voted early, which helped keep the crowd manageable yesterday. At the last minute they were able to recruit a Democrat to help her and her daughter (The Defender) run the Democratic primary while the remainder of the Republican election crew ran the Republican primary. The voters on both sides were in good humor and excited and on the whole the process went quite smoothly. My friend Dorothy's son, a high school senior who is registered to vote, came in mid-afternoon to assist with crowd control at the end of election day and did a great job.

There were 300 voters in the Republican primary and 289 in the Democratic primary. St. Betty reported there were lots of first time voters: young voters and new citizens who needed instruction in how to use the machines and how to vote. There were lots of questions about the implications of cross-over voting in the Democratic primary (not surprising in this heavily Republican precinct): do you have to stamp my card "democrat"? how long does it last? what does it mean? Also, St. Betty said that a significant number of voters made it clear that they were only interested in voting in the presidential race in this primary and were not interested in any other races, so voting on this side went very quickly.

In Texas, all it means is that if you vote in the Democratic primary you cannot vote in the Republican primary run-off election, if there is one. And there is a hot race for Congress in District 22 (the old Tom Delay seat), so some potential cross-overs were concerned about not being able to vote in the Republican primary run-0ff.

The turnout for the Democratic caucus was huge, as has been reported everywhere. In the past I've seen 3 or 4 people show up. This year St. Betty said 250 to 300 folks appeared. She said the local Democratic party wasn't prepared for this kind of turnout which caused them some problems. The election workers had some logistical problems taking down the machines and completing their work after the polls closed due to the crush of people in the room at the high school where the election was held.

St. Betty anticipates problems in the Republican primary run-off election when there will certainly be a number of cross-over voters trying to "come home" who won't be permitted to vote in that run-off.

So there you have it, friends. My conclusion is that there was a significant Republican cross-over vote in our precinct, and doubtless throughout our area. We can only speculate as to which candidate benefited more from that.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

NYC, Flu, and the Texas Primary

Friday, SIL and I flew to NYC to attend the big wedding shower for her future-daughter-in-law, who also is Portia's best friend from college. Faithful readers will recall that Queenie (because she is from Queens) and Doc (SIL's son the naval surgeon) met at Portia's wedding. It was an wonderful opportunity to learn about the Croatian community where she grew up.

I seriously do not understand how these people keep their slim figures amidst the astounding amount of delicious food that is on offer. And offer. And offer. For example, the wedding shower was at a restaurant with a five course sit-down meal for all the guests. Mangia, mangia, was a constant cry--you don't eat very much, they'd say to us. And we kept eating so as not to offend them. I thought we'd have to call our husbands to come with a forklift to get us off the plane.

Unfortunately I came down with a stomach flu right after the shower and --ahem--let's just say that the forklift wasn't necessary. With the help of immodium, I made it home on the plane and am finally feeling better.

BUT, I wasn't well enough to help St. Betty and Mrs. America run the primary election today. DANG. This would have been great blog fodder, too. Because the county clerk couldn't find any Democratic election volunteers, St. Betty and I were going to be assigned to the Democratic party side of the election. Although this has happened before, I'm surprised it happened in this primary election, what with all the excitement about the Obama/Clinton matchup. What is up with that? Where are the Democrats in our precinct? I'll have to get a report from St. Betty tonight.

Meanwhile it's me, Beatrice, dry toast and tea and the cable news coverage. Sigh.