Thursday, November 27, 2008

Giving Thanks

Celtic Woman sings "We Gather Together."
Happy Thanksgiving to my dear readers. I am grateful for each of you.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Thanksgiving To-Do List, Checkin' It Twice

This afternoon we're off to the bay house to celebrate Thanksgiving with 17 to 20 people ( no one knows for sure) and 5 dogs.

So I'm making a list to be sure I get everything in the car I am responsible for contributing:

-meat, salad, bread for dinner tonight
-Olivia's allergy-free salmon/sweet potato chow (that's why she's called Shrimp Breath)
-ingredients for killer sweet potato casserole for T'Day
-wine and coffee and milk
-dog beds, leashes and harnesses
-books to read
-better attitude (see below)

I'm looking for a better attitude to take along because in the midst of all this I have to get a set of keys to Portia's place to Babs so she can get Portia's mail. Portia should have taken care of this before she left for her in-laws, IMHO. This means getting the keys made and then a round-trip drive into Houston that I didn't need. But packages are getting stolen from behind her gate so we need to check on it.

Praying for help to set aside the petty irritations and enjoy the big picture,

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

RevGals Virtual Advent Retreat

The creative folks at RevGalBlogPals are hosting a Virtual Advent Retreat this coming Monday, December 1.

Here's how it works: early in the morning, mid-morning and afternoon reflection posts for Advent 2,3 and 4 will be posted by different facilitators. You can use the reflection pieces for contemplation or writing prompts. Participants are encouraged to leave their responses in the comments or post them on their own blogs.

What a great way to come together in cyberspace and prepare our hearts for the Advent season!

Mark your calendar and join us.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Those Who REALLY need a bailout

With all the loose talk about the need for the federal government to bail out the banks, the auto companies and their unions, the home builders and God only knows what other big business or special interest will be next, how come these folks aren't getting added to the list?

Oh, yeah. Forgot. They don't have lobbyists or PAC funds. Just blue tarps (if they're lucky), empty foundations (if they're not), and tents (if they're in the middle). UTMB just laid off half its work force in Galveston and it is the largest employer there. You do the math.

Just sayin'.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Friday Five: Mix and Stir

It's been quite a while since I played the RevGals Friday Five meme, but today I'm inspired by Songbird's Mix and Stir Friday Five.

She writes: "Next week, I'm hosting Thanksgiving. I need your help. Please answer the following kitchen-related questions:"

1) Do you have a food processor? Can you recommend it? Which is to say, do you actually use it?

I have two--regular and mini size. I use the mini size fairly often to chop onions, carrots etc. It does a better job with a small dice than the large one. Plus now that we're empty nesters I don't need to chop in big quantities very often. On the whole, I prefer a knife.

2) And if so, do you use the fancy things on it? (Mine came with a mini-blender (used a lot and long ago broken) and these scary disks you used to julienne things (used once).


3) Do you use a standing mixer? Or one of the hand-held varieties?

(And isn't that color delightfully retro?)

Great color. Babs has one that is bright pink--a Breast Cancer Awareness one. Mine is dark blue. I use this a lot because it's great for baking and I like to bake.

4) How about a blender? Do you have one? Use it much?

We have one which is used almost exclusively for margarita or other cocktail making. And no, we don't use it much, particularly since the kids got me a Margarita Machine last Mother's Day! The MM is a very festive red color. Love it.

5) Finally, what old-fashioned, non-electric kitchen tool do you enjoy using the most?

The garlic press! Fab.

Bonus: Is there a kitchen appliance or utensil you ONLY use at Thanksgiving or some other holiday? If so, what is it?

The gravy-fat-separator thingie.

Presbyterian Pie Parade

This weekend we're getting ready for the Presbyterian Pie Parade at our church. Members have been asked to bake and bring Thanksgiving pies on and $25 Wal-Mart gift cards on Monday and Tuesday to the fellowship hall.

Donors are encouraged to write notes of encouragement and caring to accompany the pies, which will be boxed up and driven by anyone who can help with the Parade on Tuesday to Galveston for distribution to those who are still struggling to rebuild their lives after IKE. The city's largest employer, the medical school and center, just announced massive lay-offs necessitated by the economic burden of that disaster. Many who survived to this point are now out of work in a difficult job market.

We're planning to bake our pies Sunday and freeze them so they will be fresher. I'm thinking pecan and chocolate brownie pies travel well. I'm so thankful that we had little damage from that storm and can join in the Pie Parade!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Football Creep

Anybody else noticing the football creep?

It used to be that college and pro football games were played on Saturdays and Sundays and, okay, on Monday night. But the last couple of weeks Faithful Football Fan El Jefe has managed to find a pro or college game every night of the week.

Last night, by the early hour of 6:30 CST, he was glued to a contest between Ball State and Central Michigan. Just riveting.

When do these "students" get to study if they are playing games out of town in the middle of the week? Quo Warranto? Why is the NCAA permitting this? Is it all for the revenues from TV coverage?

~shakes head sadly~

Here's what I believe: College football should be played on Saturday and NFL games on Sunday. And that's all.

Is it not written in the Book of Billy Bob, Chapter 2:4,6,8: " Thou shalt not play with the pigskin except on the weekend"?

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Ba We're Lambs

Check out this very cute Christian parody of the Beach Boys classic Barbara Ann on You Tube!

Sorry I couldn't embed it, that feature was disabled by request of the creator of the video.

Hat tip--Brother W.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Book Review: Acedia and Me

I am a big fan of Kathleen Norris' writing. The name of this blog was inspired by her short book "Quotidian Mysteries: Laundry, Liturgy and Women's Work." I loved Dakota, A Spiritual Geography; Amazing Grace; and The Cloister Walk. I've been eagerly anticipating her latest book, Acedia and Me : Marriage, Monks and a Writer's Life and finally got my copy a couple of weeks ago.


Yes, there's a big but coming.

I did my best to read it, but finally gave up about page 200 and then skimmed through the rest. The book is a cross between an academic study of the spiritual phenomenon acedia and a personal grief journal written in the aftermath of the death of Norris' husband in 2003. I found it dense, wordy and lacking the engaging quality of her previous writings. Which is understandable, given the book's subject and the context in which it was written. Still. I just couldn't get into it.

Those of you who, like me, are die-hard Kathleen Norris fans will probably read it anyway and I would be interested to know your reaction to the book. Anyone who is interested in a very thorough dissertation on the subject of acedia and its relationship to clinical depression will want to have this in their library. I don't think it would be helpful to someone dealing with the recent death of a loved one, but I could be wrong.

I hope to be more enthused about her next book.

Monday, November 17, 2008

QG's Swan Song as Mod

Saturday's presbytery meeting marked my last time to preside as Moderator. I took the opportunity to Honorably Retire the old Moderator's stole, which displayed the Year of the Child logo. The Year of the Child morphed into the Decade of the Child. But the decade elapsed in 2000 and yet the stole kept being passed down.

My suggestion that it was time for a change was received with enthusiasm, so my gift to the presbytery is pictured here. Dear Friend Dorothy embroidered the badges on it for me which represent the logo of the presbytery and then the legend "Moderator Presbytery of New Covenant." Our inimitable Stated Clerk took H.R. Stole home with her to get dry-cleaned before displaying it at the presbytery offices.

The meeting theme was "the vitality of the presbytery." There were no controversial issues on the agenda since the proposed BOO amendments will be voted on at the February meeting.

We did hear a comprehensive report on the presbytery's IKE recovery efforts. The election and the economic crisis have pushed IKE off the front pages of the national news and there has been very little support outside our area for the recovery effort. Other denominations are reporting the same thing. Presbyterian Disaster Assistance is preparing to open two worksite camps in the area soon as they open their long-term rebuilding program.

Many thanks to the thoughtful saints at First Presbyterian Church of Pasadena who did a superb job hosting the meeting. I was fighting a new cold and was delighted to see the lectern thoughtfully stocked with water bottles! That really helped to keep me from having a very unattractive and distracting coughing fit in the midst of the meeting.

Although we installed our next Moderator (Rev. Wayne Eberly, good luck and Godspeed!) , my term continues until the end of this year. I have a couple more meetings and at least one more ordination to go. Then I'll return to my local church (Memorial Drive, Houston), from whence I came.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Prayers for Our Moderator's Family

Brian Pugh, the brother-in-law of the PCUSA Moderator Bruce Reyes-Chow was killed in a workplace shooting in the San Francisco Bay area Friday evening. He and his wife have two young children.

You can leave prayers for the family on Bruce's blog. Or at this remembrance website.

We got the news Saturday morning at the presbytery meeting fromRev. Shawn Coons, a friend of Bruce's. Shawn led the presbytery in prayer for the family and all involved.

Lord, hear our prayers!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

10 Most Annoying Presby-Phrases Revealed

The nominations are in and the votes have been counted. Many thanks to all of the QG readers who joined in the effort with your comments and encouragement!

The judges (Me, Myself and I) have made their decision. The envelope, please.

And the winners are...

Ten Most Annoying Presby-Phrases

1. Intentional
2. Live into
3. Fellowship, the verb
4. If the way be clear
5. A new thing
6. Unpack
7. Jesus, we just
8. Gift, the verb
9. I feel that the Jesus I know would...
10. Missional

Honorable Mention:
These are phrases that are very annoying indeed, and need recognition, but require some explanation (or exegisis, if you will....)

1. Decently and in Order (when used to justify creating yet ANOTHER committee)

2. Bubble up Ministry (when used to justify replacing paid staff with volunteers)

3. This is an issue over which reasonable people can disagree (when used to trivialize debate)

4. In the spirit of Christian love (as much a harbinger of a judgmental remark as ‘bless her heart’)

5.“Post” the adjective meaning “so yesterday” as in post-denominational, post-connectional etc.

6. Resonate (people are not tuning forks)

And the prize for Most Creative Use in a Sentence of Annoying Presby-Phrases goes to Presbyterian Gal for this entry:
I find profound challenges daily as I live into these post-menopausal years where I often miss the connectional relationships previously enjoyed on social and familial levels where the daily missional projects and goals could be met if only the way be clear and I am not constantly distracted by hearing "Jesus we just pray she doesn't throw another spoon at our heads!!"
Sentiments shared by many PresbyGals of a certain age....

And last but not least: QG's Special Award Defying Categorization goes to Rev. Dave for this tongue-twisting, eye-crossing acronym stew:
The COM suggested that the AC, with the concurrence of the the PJC, the APNC, the PPRC, the CPM, the SPJC, the PC, the GA, the GAPJC, GAMC, the OGA, the PILP, the PPC, the FDN,the BOP, the PHS, WJKP, the NNPCW, PHEWA, the COTE, CORLE, the CAM, the PAM, the PCAN, the PDA, the POAMN, and one lone CLP, be set at 70 degrees to conserve energy.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Last Chance to Enter The Contest

This evening the judges of your nominations for the 10 Most Annoying Presby-Phrases will review the entries and make their selection. (The judges are Me, Myself and I.) We have some great entries on the posts below and in the comments, so cast your votes or make your additional suggestions now!

A special virtual prize for the most creative use of Annoying Presby-Phrases In One Sentence will also be made, so put on your thinking caps and submit your entries in the comments below.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

IKE Redux and Presby-Phrases Contest

Yesterday our lovely weather changed to warmish and rainy--but not stormy. During the day, however, the power went out briefly five or six times so I called to report it thinking it might indicate a real problem.

Did it ever! About 30 minutes afterwards I was treated to a major light show and then darkness for a couple of hours. Then the lights came back on for another hour and then went out for good until about 5 am. So now I'm off to a very slow start this morning!

As Yogi Barra would say, "deja view all over again."

If you haven't added your vote for most annoying Presby-Phrase in the post below, please join in! In addition to the great suggestions several commenters cleverly used their nominations in a sentence. So there will have to be a virtual prize for the best effort in that category of Most Annoying PresbySentence.

If the way be clear, be intentional. Live into the contest by unpacking your opinions. Show your connectionalism. Jesus we just ask that in the fullness of time a new thing will appear.

~ducks and runs~

Monday, November 10, 2008

Most Annoying Phrases--Plain and Presby

Thanks to Mike Kruse at Kruse Kronicle for tipping me off to the list of the 10 most annoying phrases compiled by Oxford University researchers. Here's their "great hierarchy of verbal fatigue":

1 - At the end of the day
2 - Fairly unique
3 - I personally
4 - At this moment in time
5 - With all due respect
6 - Absolutely
7 - It's a nightmare
8 - Shouldn't of
9 - 24/7
10 - It's not rocket science

Nice list from the Brits, but we Americans might have a slightly different list. After the late campaign, I would have included hope, maverick, change, working families and family values.

It seems to me we could compile a list of the most annoying Presby-Phrases--our own hierarchy of verbal fatigue, as it were. Here are my nominations--add yours in the comments and later this week I'll post our results.

QG's Nominations:
  • Live into
  • In the fullness of time
  • If the way be clear
  • Connectionalism, connectional
  • Missional, unmissional
  • "Post" used as an adjective meaning "so yesterday" as in post-denominational, post-connectional etc
  • "Jesus,we just" prayers
Add your votes and additional nominations in the comments!

Friday, November 07, 2008

Christmas Project Suggestion

This is about the time of year that Sunday School classes and church small groups begin to think about what to do for a group Christmas project--do I have a suggestion for you, especially if you are part of a Presbyterian congregation in the Synod of the Sun.

SCRAPCE (South Central Region of the Association of Presbyterian Christian Educators) is sponsoring the IKE Classroom Recovery Project to help congregations devastated by the storm rebuild and re-equip their Christian Education space.

Remember IKE???? We sure do.

Congregations that will be assisted by the project are First Presbyterian, Galveston; Emmanuel Presbyterian, Galveston; West Isle Presbyterian, Galveston; and Hurricane Gustav-damaged Baker Presbyterian, Baker, Louisiana.

Donors can elect to fund all or part of a classroom and will be put in touch with the recipient congregation so they can share prayers and develop relationships as well as send money. SCRAPCE will match the donors with congregations to ensure that the funds are spread equitably.

For more information about the project and how to participate, go to the Hurricane Ike Recovery page on the New Covenant Presbytery website. Scroll down to the middle of the page to the Classroom Recovery Project links.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Beatrice Blogs: From the Dog House

Woof! Beatrice here, blogging from the doghouse.

It all started with a ball. Just a little ball that I love to play fetch with until I found it more fun to hide it under El Jefe's recliner and then try to get it out. All by myself!

Well, okay, so I couldn't quite reach under there, so I had to chew on the chair some to try to get it out. And so the leather sort of came off in chunks once I got down to the chair's frame. My plan was to chew the frame off and then--voila!--retrieve my ball. Ingenious.

But QG was--ahem--NOT AMUSED. She took away my ball for the rest of the day and won't let me bring it back in the house. She taped up the chair and sprayed it will something nasty, too. Words were said. Faces were scowly.

The doghouse isn't much fun. I want my ball. I bet I can chew off that tape and get it....

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

The Hardest Part Begins

Like many of you, I'm relieved the election is finally over. Two years of constant campaigning is too much. I wish that the election cycle could be shortened to six weeks, but realistically, those who benefit from lengthy and expensive campaigns will never let that happen.

Congratulations and best wishes to Barack Obama on his historic victory. His election demonstrates that the American dream is not myth, but reality. This is a very good thing for the country. He was not my choice, but I pray that he will deliver on the promise in his acceptance speech to reach out to those who did not vote for him.

"Change" and "hope" were the catch-phrases for this election for both candidates. Now that the election is over, let us put it in perspective.

Presidents are limited in what they can achieve by many things over which they have no control: the powers of the Congress and Supreme Court, history, competing interests of powerful lobby groups, the expectations of their party and supporters, the opposition of those who do not agree with their policy proposals, the actions of foreign countries, the strengths and weaknesses of their advisors and Cabinet secretaries, and their own human shortcomings. Campaigning is very diffcult, but governing is even harder.

Psalm 146 reminds us not to have unrealistic expectations for our leaders:

3 Do not put your trust in princes,
in mortal men, who cannot save.

4 When their spirit departs, they return to the ground;
on that very day their plans come to nothing.

5 Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob,
whose hope is in the LORD his God,

6 the Maker of heaven and earth,
the sea, and everything in them—
the LORD, who remains faithful forever.

7 He upholds the cause of the oppressed
and gives food to the hungry.
The LORD sets prisoners free,

8 the LORD gives sight to the blind,
the LORD lifts up those who are bowed down,
the LORD loves the righteous.

9 The LORD watches over the alien
and sustains the fatherless and the widow,
but he frustrates the ways of the wicked.

10 The LORD reigns forever,
your God, O Zion, for all generations.
Praise the LORD.

President-Elect Obama needs our prayers for God's guidance and wisdom as he begins the process of choosing members of his new administration, and continuing after he takes office. May the Lord be with him and with this country!

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

All's Quiet On the Election Front

St. Betty just called to report that all is relatively quiet at our local precinct. It seems that 58% of the registered voters in the precinct voted early! So although there is a steady stream of folks coming in, there are plenty of machines and no waiting.

Evidently we ALL heart early voting.

Our precinct (and our county) normally vote strongly Republican. We'll see if the high turnout signals a change in that pattern--or not.

Monday, November 03, 2008

QG's Traveling Lunch Wagon

For the first time in several election cycles, I'm not serving as an election official in my precinct.

The turnout is likely to be very heavy (based on the fact that we've had more than 40% of all registered voters in the county vote early). That means that the officials will be sitting for hours and hours at a time. In my case, that means bad bad news for my gimpy knee.

So I've volunteered to serve as the lunch wagon for the election workers. I'll bring lunch to them -- just after the noon rush because I know from experience that you can't stop to eat from about 11:30 to 1 pm.

In some ways I'm sad not to be working a presidential election. My knee, however, is very happy to be fetching lunch instead.