Friday, July 31, 2009

Gone Fishing....

El Jefe and I are taking next week off for a much-needed break from work, church, moving, and wedding planning.

I was thrilled to find that I could put a hold on the mail and stop delivery of the paper ONLINE. I do so love that.

Tomorrow we're going to participate in the Presbytery of New Covenant's Day of Service by helping with MDPC's work day at a middle school that serves a disadvantaged area. I hope to get some good pictures to post, but other than that, QG will be on vacation for a week.

See you later!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Driving As a Spiritual Practice

Reverendmother posted a wonderful essay on The Spirituality of Driving today. It's truly a must read.

Like reverendmother, I live in suburbia and spend a lot of time in the car commuting to my church in the Memorial area , to the presbytery office in Montrose, and to downtown Houston for concerts, plays, and other big events. My husband commutes 25 miles daily to his downtown law firm office.

I love RM's point about driving as liminal space--a transition between work or meetings and home. El Jefe finds this very important to him in his high-pressure job. I have learned to use my commuting time as prayer time and look forward to it. Often I turn off the radio and iPod so that it is just "quiet" (relatively) time for me.

As RM says, driving together with family and friends gives a wonderful opportunity to deepen relationships. Some of my best and most meaningful time with our girls came while driving them to and from school and activities--something I missed when they became old enough to drive. I still miss the two day drives to Sewanee, Tennessee with Babs when she was in college there. Good times!

Thanks, RM, for pointing out the spirituality in one of the mundane tasks of our culture--driving.

Do you find driving can be a spiritual practice?

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

A New Member First

At last night's session meeting we welcomed about 25 new members to the congregation at the beginning of the meeting. As always, the moderator told them they were welcome to stay to observe the rest of the meeting if they wished, while commenting that he had yet to see any new member take him up on the invitation.

SURPRISE! This time a young couple actually stayed for the entire meeting. And asked a question about the financial report, too. They looked to me to be twenty-somethings. I learned afterwards that they are engaged and the young man is in the armed services (not sure which one) expecting to be deployed to a combat zone in a few weeks.

After the meeting as I was leaving I overheard his conversation with one of the associate pastors. He was asking how he could contribute his time to some mission project of the church between now and his deployment.


Monday, July 27, 2009

RevGalsBookPals Discussion Today: The Alto Wore Tweed

Today I'm hosting the monthly book discussion over at RevGalsBlogPals. Our feature is The Alto Wore Tweed by Mark Schweizer, which I enthusiastically endorsed here (along with the rest of his Liturgical Mysteries series).

Mark is going to join in the conversation today and I know some of my Gentle Readers are among his fans. So please feel free to log on here and join in the fun!

P.S. I just finished The Diva Wore Diamonds--the latest in the series--and really enjoyed it. The musical parody in this one is Elisha and the Two Bears, the "previously unknown Henry Purcell masterpiece". (See 2 Kings 2: 23-25.) Copy of the score is available on the publisher's website here. Perform at your own risk!

Friday, July 24, 2009

From the MOB Files: Wedding Entrances

Thanks to fellow Mother of the Bride, Mary M. planning a December wedding, for this:

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Bill Cosby, Rare Voice of Reason

Bill Cosby's comments about the controversy surrounding the police incident involving the arrest of the Harvard professor:

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Author To join Book Pals Discussion Next Monday

Here's a heads-up for my Gentle Readers: next Monday I will host a discussion of The Alto Wore Tweed by Mark Schweizer at the RevGalBlogPals blog. I discovered and reviewed that book and one of its companions in Schweizer's Liturgical Mysteries series last year. Since then, I've read ALL of the books, including the latest: The Diva Wore Diamonds. (The links I gave are to the publisher's website but all are available on as well.)

And here's the exciting news--the author, Mark Schweizer, has agreed to join the discussion! So if you would like to ask him some questions -- like what inspired him to write the books or his musical parodies like The Pirate Eucharist and The Weasel Cantata--please join the discussion on Monday by going to the RevGalBlogPals link.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

MOB Redux Update: The Match Game

The last week on the Matrimonial Front has been spent getting information about possible venues for the ceremony and the reception, and checking dates available in spring 2010. Lots of phone calls and emails were generated.

Now Babs and P-Dubya have made a decision that narrows down the field of possibilities: the wedding ceremony will be at MDPC. So the Match Game now focuses on matching available dates at the church to available dates at places for the reception.

Hopefully, that gets resolved today. Then the MOB can move on from The Match Game to The Check List.

Matchy, matchy.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Fourth Commandment Strong in Isle of Lewis

It's not often you read a news story about protesting Presbyterians, but yesterday I came across this article about a kerfuffle in the Isle of Lewis (off the British coast).

It seems that the Presbyterians (so-called in the article, but probably Church of Scotland or some related group) on the Isle who are strict in their sabbath observance are protesting the plans of the local ferry to provide service on Sundays--after the church hour.

While it may seem like a quaint and eccentric position to take today, it reminded me of the Sundays of my childhood in Texas where blue laws kept all but "essential services" closed. My dad, a pretty strict Presbyterian himself, frowned on card-playing and movie going on Sundays. Once we had television, we could watch that, but he preferred that we read or play outside. While he might not have gone as far as his fellow Presbys on the Isle of Lewis, he would have sympathized with them. The camel's nose inside the tent and all that.

When the blue laws were repealed in this state the pastor of our church urged us in his sermon to continue to avoid shopping on Sundays--he was concerned that folks who worked in retail businesses would ultimately be forced to work on Sundays and miss their opportunity to worship with their faith communities in order to suit the convenience of others. Well, he was certainly right about that.

To this day I try (not always successfully) to avoid shopping on Sundays. I find taking a sabbath from errand-running without guilt a great gift! El Jefe, famed for working 24/7, attends worship on Sunday morning and lets his clients know he is not available during that time. We didn't let our daughters participate in Sunday morning athletic events, either--though that was less of an issue when they were young than it is today. I guess that makes us seem almost as quaint and eccentric as the Isle of Lewis Presbyterians.

Friday, July 17, 2009

WSJ Article on Church Schism

Today's Wall Street Journal has an interesting and instructive review of church schism, prompted by recent doings in the Episcopal church-- Their Separate Ways by Philip Jenkins, author of The Lost History of Christianity. (This week the ECUSA's triennial convention ended the ban on gay candidates serving in ordained ministry. Meanwhile, earlier this summer conservatives organized a rival church, the Anglican Church in North America, and essentially withdrew.)

Jenkins gives a good brief summary of the history of schisms in the church--some successful, some not so much, and some failures. Presbyterians, like Episcopalians, were born in schism from the Roman Catholic Church. Is it really surprising that churches born of schism continue to be subject to schism?

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Odi et Amo Alert!

Portia scored a fascinating interview with the owner of Emily Ceramics and 20% discount for her blog readers on orders from this unique shop that features Mexican and Italian pretties. Here's the link to her post with all the info.

Way to go Portia! I've already ordered a couple for the new house.

Lead Us Not Into Tweet-tation

Over lunch following Tuesday's presbytery meeting we got into a discussion of twittering in worship. Much hilarity ensued as we joked about inappropriate tweets such as:

"What was she thinking when she bought that dress?"
"Sermon's too long...snoozing now"
"Choir off-key"
"Where to for lunch?"

So I can't resist passing on from Michael Kruze of Kruze Kronicle this article from the NY Times about tweeting gone wrong during a Good Friday service. It seems roguish parisioners couldn't resist adding a couple of characters to the proceedings, including a salacious Mary Magdalene.....

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Service and Per Capita

Yesterday there was a called meeting of our presbytery (New Covenant) because instead of having a stated meeting as we usually do in August, we are having a Day of Service instead. About 60 of our churches have already committed to the project.

Each congregation chooses a service project in their community which will be done on Saturday, August 1. My church is going to do a day at a nearby middle school which serves a low-income neighborhood. We'll landscape, paint, and generally fix-up the school just before the new school year begins. At the Outreach Committee's meeting last night, I heard that we are getting a lot of sign-ups for our project!

Then on Sunday, August 2 a presbytery-wide celebration will be hosted by a Houston church and possibly by some churches in other areas of our geographically large region.

I'm excited the presbytery is encouraging the churches to get out and share the love of Christ with their neighbors through service to them.

In other news, the annual budget was approved at the called meeting (we don't use a calendar fiscal year). The budget does not make provision for "equalizing" per capita contributions by churches that do not (for whatever reason) make them. Because of revenue shortfalls the finance committee declared that funds are not available at this time for equalization because they did not want to cut back on PNC's programs--especially our extensive new church developments--in order to cover per capita. If revenues exceed projections later in the year, this may be up for reconsideration.

Interestingly my church's session sent an overture to the last meeting asking that per capita not be equalized (we are withholding per capita this year) and the overture was narrowly defeated.

PNC is the sixth largest presbytery in the denomination, so this can't be good news in Louisville.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Note to MOB: Get a Grip

The M.O.B. realized that she might be getting just the teensiest bit distracted today when she checked out at the grocery store only to discover that her wallet was not in her purse.

The kindly checker completed the order and had it stored in the cooler while she went home to fetch it.

Half-way home (a couple of miles), the M.O.B. spotted the aforementioned wallet lying on the bottom left hand side of the windshield. OUTSIDE the car.

Pulling to one side, she adroitly retrieved it and was greatly relieved to discover nothing was missing. It must have been on the windshield the whole time she was in the grocery store. Amazing.

Why did she put it there? Dunno. Can't remember. Was too busy emailing Babs and Portia re: proposed wedding dates and venues.

RESOLVED: One thing at a time....

Thursday, July 09, 2009

MOB, Redux

We interrupt Summer Slumptime with breaking news from the Matrimonial Front:

Babs and P-Dubya just got engaged!


~donning Mother-of-the-Bride Hat for the second time~

Now I'm awaiting my instructions, but anticipate the next few months will be ANYTHING but slumpy. The Matrimonial Bureau will bring more details as they are available and the MOB-Redux will be looking for her planning files from Portia's wedding, which must be in a moving box somewhere around here....

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Summer Slumptime

I guess it was inevitable that after all the excitement and stress of moving that once things began to get back to "normal", life would seem pretty humdrum by comparison.

And so it goes as I slip into a bit of a summer slump. The heat doesn't help anything and the fact that both Portia and Babs are away on long vacations makes me lonesome for them. We've been too pre-occupied with getting moved and settled to plan a trip ourselves this summer.

No doubt I'll wish for some slumptime in the fall when everything gears up again. But for now--well--I wouldn't mind a change of pace.

How's your summer shaping up? Busy or slumpy?

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Book Review: John Calvin, Pilgrim and Pastor

If I hadn't already mentioned on this blog that I planned to read John Calvin, Pilgrim and Pastor in honor of the 500th anniversary of the birth of John Calvin, I would not post this review. But I did, so I am.

I was disappointed in the book. I read several positive reviews of it before buying it and can't agree with any of them. I thought it would be an interesting biography of one of the greatest of the Reformers that would place him in the context of that fascinating time, but instead found it was a tedious cut-and-paste review of Calvin's theology and writings.

On the positive side, I did get several lovely naps in while trying to finish reading the book.

I really can't recommend it to anyone but seminary students who are required to read it.

If any of my Gentle Readers can recommend a more interesting biography of Calvin, please do so in the comments.

Monday, July 06, 2009

On Observing the Birthdays of the USA and John Calvin

Yesterday's worship combined the celebration of our country's independence with the celebration of the 500th anniversary of the birthday of John Calvin.

Yes, you read that sentence correctly! That turned out to be a very powerful combination.

While you don't hear Calvin mentioned often, even in Presbyterian churches, the Fourth of July is a very appropriate time to acknowledge him, 500th birthday or no, because Calvin's interest in right government and advocacy of the need for checks and balances in power make him one of the intellectual Fathers of the American revolution and republic.

The sermon was preceded by a brief video from the Witherspoon Press that focused on Calvin's theology of government. Using Galatians 5:13-26 as the text, Dr. Dave Peterson preached a powerful sermon that concluded with the importance of individual self-government as the foundation for an effective representative government. I would do an injustice by trying to summarize it, but if you would like to hear the podcast it is available here.

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Happy Fourth of July: Patriotic Cupcakes

Here are the fabulous Fourth of July cupcakes that my talented SIL made today for family and friends down at the bay.

I KNOW they look like sliders, but trust me, they are CUPCAKES! SIL took these directions from blogger Bakerella and VIOLA! Her granddaughters had a lot of fun helping her put them together and the rest of us marveled at how cute they were and how good they tasted.

Here's the secret--the buns are vanilla cupcakes cut in half and the "hamburger patty" is a brownie cut into circles with a biscuit cutter. The condiments are all colored frosting. SIL makes it look easy, but it really takes some talent.

YUM! And happy 4th of July to all of you!

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Beatrice Blogs: Me-1, Mice-0


Beatrice reporting back in. Abby, the schnauzer down the street showed me how to find the mice in the vacant lot. She got 4 of them in her garage last week!

Yesterday I went on a walk with El Jefe and showed him my new trick! I got one, too. He took it away from me because he was afraid I'd eat it. But I just wanted him to see my kill.

I'm thinking that Abby and I will make a great team around our new neighborhood.

Terminatingly yours,

Beatrice The Bold, Scourge of Mice