Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Who done it?

The Crime
I returned home this evening tired. It had been a long day and a storm was brewing. It promised to be a dark and stormy night, and I was looking forward to a drink. From the moment I entered the room I knew that something wasn't right, it was a P.I.'s intuition. And sure enough, in the kitchen I saw it, my crime scene.

My criminal it seems had a taste for ice cream, or maybe raw chicken. Either way the freezer was swinging open in the air, flaunting its ice cream puddles. Its open door taunted me with the truth. Someone, or something, had been here before me. The food was ruined, so I took the next logical steps and looked for CLUES!

The suspects
Every crime scene points back to the criminal and this was no different. I'd seen this sort of thing before and I knew where to look. There were two suspects who caught my eye, they both had access and motive. But who did the deed?

The first fellow was a crafty cat. He went by Doppler, but answered also to Mr. Whiny, Bite-y, and Pillow Hog. He'd be caught red-pawed before, and one day his curiousity might be the death of him. Plus, he had a rap sheet a mile long. But something told me that he was not the brains of the operation. He had a thuggish quality that made him more likely a lackey than the fat cat himself. Who was he working for? But he wasn't talkin'.

But he wasn't alone. The second suspect was more tricky. She was a shifty pussycat, quick to avoid being photographed. She was willing to purr her way out of almost anything. Her name was Tsunami, but I just called her Tsu. She usually got what she wanted and didn't like being on house arrest. She seemed innocent on the surface but she was a calculating broad, and had slunk her way out of such situations before. Would such petty crime like this be beneath her or simply her idea of fun? Clearly she had the brains to concieve of such a plan but could she deliver the goods? I doubt she had the strength.


It was a mystery all right. A tale (tail?) of two cats and one freezer. Who ruined the groceries? We may never know. But this P.I. has got some shopping to do.

Monday, March 26, 2007

A day off can be so lovely!

And today was a beautiful day. It ended up around 80! How is that for March in Minnesota? After a crazy weekend where I worked almost all of it, it was so nice to take a bit of time for rest... I did have to run some errands, including driving an hour away to pick up my new glasses, but it was sunny and I was relaxed so it was fun instead of stressful. I'm wearing my new glasses now in an attempt to slow the crazy crossing of Liz's eyes when she looks at a computer or book....the two things I think I do most often. So far it seems to be working well.

On the way back home I confess I stopped by Culver's and had a chocolate and andes mint shake/blizzard thing and ate it outside in the glorious sunshine reading my latest book. I didn't need the calories but the knots that left my shoulders during that time were worth it!

The rest of the week will be busy with a bunch of commitments again on the weekend, including some trumpet playing for Palm Sunday. And of course then it is Holy Week which is always hard because I have a 1st Communion banquet to throw as well, but at the moment everything seems doable.

Oh, and last night I too the evening and deep-cleaned the bedroom. It has been a long time but it felt so good to sleep there last night when things were not so cluttered and messy. Since that is the room that is easiest to close off when people come it gets the least amount of attention sometimes, but right now it is CLEAN! And I'm going to do my best to keep it that way. I think tomorrow night I may attack the kitchen or a bathroom in the same fashion and try to make the most of my spring cleaning frenzy.

Today though, today was about rest.

P.S. My geekdom has expanded as I discovered a new show to love over the weekend - Eureka. It has been on SciFi this last year but they had a marathon and Tivo recorded it and I'm glad it did! It is always exciting to find a new sci-fi to join the ranks of my trusty geeky favorites. Geeks of the world unite!

Saturday, March 24, 2007

How big can the balloon get?

Lately I have been becoming increasingly aware of the rising costs of gas, food, supplies...well everything! I spent my formative years growing up in the economic boom of the 90s, and while nothing was cheap, costs seemed relatively stable (at least from the point of view of a 15 yr old). Today it seems like the costs go up month to month. In the last 2 or 3 years I've seen things go up significantly.

Take diet coke for example...my addiction as many of you know. A year or two ago a sale on diet coke at the store would be roughly 24 cans for $5. Now it is hard to get diet coke for under $6. Ok, so a buck isn't a terrible increase but if you add a dollar here and there suddenly it adds up to quite a bit. And we all know to well about the gas situation and it seems like the times the price drops are fewer and fewer.

How much more will it go before people are hurting more than they are. I don't make much for the family and Chris is in school but I am still well above the poverty line and it is hard to make everything work for 2 people. There are places we could cut back of course, but more than worrying about us, what about those people who are at or below the poverty line, or even above it. What about their kids? Rent goes up, gas goes up, fees go up, groceries go up, and if my job is any indication salaries do NOT.

If we weren't in an economic crisis before, we will be soon. And will there be anyway to help the millions who need it. I hope so.

Maybe I should give up diet coke...

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Busy Week

It has been one of those weeks....is one of those weeks, and will continue to be one of those weeks. The stuff is piling up, the responsiblities are many, and the motivation is low (that may be the pain (infection?) in my ears talking there).

Tonight I get to play "The Tempter" in our annual lenten drama series. The tempeter role has been changing each week, and tonight it is me. I don't think acting evil may be a huge stretch for me at the moment. Mwa-ha-ha-ha.

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Last night I had a spare two hours...ok not really to spare but I wasn't doing the housework I needed to be and was trying to relax instead. So I watched the finale of Dr. Who which had been on Tivo for 2 months. So sad. I love that show but I am bummed that the lead female isn't coming back (the actress left so she wouldn't be stuck in the role). And I hear that Emma Watson may not return for the Harry Potter films. It makes me sad that actors can get so caught up in not wanting to to be pigeon-holed that they end up pissing off the fans that made them popular in the first place. Afterall, no one is so loyal as the science fiction geeks! You should work to appease us! Mwa-ha-ha-ha. (Too much? Yeah, probably...)

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I realized this week that every weekend between now and June has a major church or family event (sometimes both) attached to it. It might make life a bit crazy in the next few months. And of course June has VBS halfway through, though it is quiet the rest of the month. July will be busy, busy, busy with camps, Harry Potter (YAY!), and weddings. When will I rest in the next 5 months!? Eep.

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We finally got our new hymnals at church though they won't go in the pews until May. Still it is fairly exciting.

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I realized today that I missed annual pi day! Bummer. I like to have a piece of pie to honor the esteemed number!

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How's that for random thoughts. Here is hoping I manage to regain the use of thoughtful reflection next week when things are quite so busy!

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Fish out of water

Hi everyone! I'm here at Willow Creek for the conference Children's Ministry in High Definition. It is the end of day one and has been very interesting. I'm still processing everything and am sure to have lots of thoughts when I return as well, but my first thought....

This place is huge!

There are so much space, and resources and people plugged in. I think I may have a challenge of interpreting what is going on here and translating it to my own church's level. Yes, some words may be the same (Some will definately change as well) but the execution of it all might be quite different.

Anyway, it is odd being here alone and not having folks to debrief with. I'm just one observer/participant in a sea of 3500 other children's workers...and I'm wondering if I am the same as them or not. Am I too introverted? Too academic? Too cynical? I don't know yet, but I'm thinking about it. Somehow I don't feel like I fit but I can't tell if that is my own walls I'm putting up or a real and tangible difference between what I observe and who I understand myself to be. More on this later.

This is Liz in Chicago working hard or hardly working, I can't tell which. :) Perhaps it doesn't matter. Over and out.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Odds and Ends

Here are some random thoughts from the weekend and my week ahead. It was a busy weekend and yet there was some time to get things done too. In many ways it was good, but in others it was quite stressful, and I have quite a big week this week which has me feeling a bit anxious about the whole bit.

Thursday I spent a good portion of the day at work but I got to leave early to pick up Doppler who came home safe and sound from the vet. He wasn't too happy with my but has since forgiven me. His paws seem to be healing well too. Yay!

That night I went with a Seminary friend to see William Hasker present at a local college. He is one of the frontrunners in God and Time stuff and I had quoted him quite a bit in my thesis. It was fun to review some of that stuff and realize that I've still got the academic bug in my head. I still don't know what to do about the fact that it is there but it was cool. One nice thing is that I was able to put the rather complicated ideas into simpler terms for my friend, so maybe I have a gift of sorts in explaining the difficult parts of theology. Of course, it could just be that I've studied it for a long time.

Friday was a day off and although i did go to the office for a few hours, most of it was spent on non-work things. I did do a bit of shopping - I bought new underwear (woohoo!) and some clearance stuff (double woohoo!). I ran downtown to pick up my itunes gift cards that I won. Yay! It was good. Friday night Chris was out with friends so i caught up on some of my tivoed stuff. All in all a relaxing day.

Saturday was meant to be productive but most of the time was spent fixing stuff that was going wrong...mostly our other cat Tsunami. We noticed she was limping and wouldn't put any weight on her paw. She seemed to be in a lot of pain so we took her to the emergency vet. Chris thought maybe he stepped on her, but the vet thought that her toe had gotten infected. We've been giving her antibiotics and she seems lots better now, but that too a good portion of the day. And of course, the poor thing HATES car rides. The trip down (only 10 minutes to the nearest emergency vet) she threw up, the trip back it was the other end. Not so much fun for mom, dad or cat. But she's bounced back and isn't so mad at me anymore.

The rest of Sat and Sun was cleaning for me. The place needed it and while it isn't done yet we made a ton of progress. It felt good to do, and I managed to do 95% of the laundry in the house which may be a record. Yay!

Oh, also on Sunday I needed to return some videos and these two guys were biking in the dark, circling in the parking lot of the Blockbuster. I thought that was odd, but it was busy and i wasn't worried. So one of them comes up to me and says "My friend and I are out here tonight sharing our Message with people...the message of Jesus Christ"

I think I was a bit rude to him. First I said that I work for a church and just came from a meeting and know all about that, and then I basically ignored him. It was weird to be confronted with such a brash evangelism. Maybe it is because I'm Lutheran but that in your fact stuff rubs me the wrong way. I'm all about talking with people who want to know more, but the hanging out and bugging people running errands bit really torqued me. Maybe it is not clear that I'm a Christian (because I watch movies?) but still.

Anyway, good luck to him I guess, but you won't find me on a street corner any time soon, but maybe that is my own hang ups.

I leave tomorrow for Chicago. I have a conference at the great mega church Willow Creek. I'll be curious to see what it is like. I'm excited and worried and wishing I knew someone else who would be there. But I'm sure all learn a lot. I'll be without computer interaction but I'll be sure to blog about it when I get back.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Here is the sermon...

Here is the sermon as I promised. I'm feeling a bit deflated after giving it and am having a hard time judging how it went. The old ladies who came seemed to like it though. I'm not sure if I really ended up where I started with this whole process, and I hope I didn't hurt any feelings. When I was exploring the infertility issue many people seemed concerned that I would step on toes or offer meaningless cliches. I really hope it doesn't come across that way. Anyway, make of it what you will. Here is the text that was read:

Genesis 18: 1-15

The Lord appeared to Abraham by the oaks of Mamre, as he sat at the entrance of his tent in the heat of the day. He looked up and saw three men standing near him. When he saw them, he ran from the tent entrance to meet them, and bowed down to the ground. He said, “My lord, if I find favor with you, do not pass by your servant. Let a little water be brought, and wash your feet, and rest yourselves under the tree. Let me bring a little bread, that you may refresh yourselves, and after that you may pass on—since you have come to your servant.” So they said, “Do as you have said.” And Abraham hastened into the tent to Sarah, and said, “Make ready quickly three measures of choice flour, knead it, and make cakes.” Abraham ran to the herd, and took a calf, tender and good, and gave it to the servant, who hastened to prepare it. Then he took curds and milk and the calf that he had prepared, and set it before them; and he stood by them under the tree while they ate.


They said to him, “Where is your wife Sarah?” And he said, “There, in the tent.” Then one said, “I will surely return to you in due season, and your wife Sarah shall have a son.” And Sarah was listening at the tent entrance behind him. Now Abraham and Sarah were old, advanced in age; it had ceased to be with Sarah after the manner of women. So Sarah laughed to herself, saying, “After I have grown old, and my husband is old, shall I have pleasure?” The Lord said to
Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh, and say, ‘Shall I indeed bear a child, now that I am old?’ Is anything too wonderful for the Lord? At the set time I will return to you, in due season, and Sarah shall have a son.” But Sarah denied, saying, “I did not laugh”; for she was afraid. He said, “Oh yes, you did laugh.”

And here is the Sermon I preached:

Sometimes bad things happen to good people. This may seem cliché but it has been shown throughout history and bears repeating as we look to the story of Sarah this week. Last week we heard about King David. His sorrow and sentence were a direct result of his sin, but sometimes things happen to us that are not caused by our own sin. There are things that happen and we don’t know why. We don’t know if God has caused it or someone else or if it just happened, but no matter why, they are sources of grief. Sometimes these grief’s are swift events, leaving us with wreckage and heartache. Our lives are changed in an instant and the pain is intense. Other times grief arrives slowly and is drawn out as it is in Sarah’s case, in her struggle with infertility.

Sarah must have dealt with the consequences of her “barrenness” for decades. It was a horrible stigma to be unable to have a child in that culture, just as it is a horrible thing to be unable to have one now, if that is what you want. Even the word, barren, implies that nothing good can come from an infertile woman. What a horrible implication and a hurtful one, today and then.

Sarah was already too old to have a child, our story tells us so. She and Abraham must have come to the conclusion long ago that they would not be having a child together. We know that this was the case because Sarah urged Abraham to have a child with another woman, Hagar, to ensure that he had an heir. The plan backfired however. Hagar did conceive and Genesis tells us that Hagar began to treat Sarah with contempt. Hagar was proud of doing what Sarah could not, and was sure to rub it in. And so, while Hagar did bear a son, Ishmael, this only led Sarah to further resentment and jealousy. Ishmael was not her son and Sarah’s grief grew knowing that another woman could provide Abraham with the son that she couldn’t. Sarah had long ago given up hope that this situation could change. Her grief and resentment were lasting and there was no obvious way that they would stop.

And so, when three strangers come along years later the last thing Sarah is thinking of is having a baby. She and Abraham work hard to show the strangers hospitality, feeding them and letting them rest, but they do not expect anything in return. So you can imagine their surprise when the strangers announce God’s plan for Sarah and Abraham – that she, Sarah, will have a child.

It is no wonder she laughed.

Maybe you would have laughed too. It is an absurd statement that Sarah overhears. How could she, a woman of ninety, have a child. If you were Sarah, would you have believed three strangers could speak the word of God to you? Would you have thought a child was possible?

I imagine that her laughter must have been bitter. The kind of laughter we use when we have been hurt by what others say: a sarcastic and unbelieving type of laughter. The kind of laughter we use when we are trying not to cry. The kind of laughter that comes from grief and pain.

But after Sarah’s laughter comes a scary response. God heard Sarah’s laugh and her doubt, and he challenges her on it. The Lord asks “Why did Sarah laugh? Is anything too wonderful for the Lord?” God is asking Sarah if she trusts Him. He is saying “Don’t you believe me? Don’t you know who you are talking to? Would I joke about something as painful as your not having a child?”

But, God also knows that, to Sarah, the thought of having a child now is absurd. It is ridiculous. And Abraham and Sarah are too engrossed with the absurdity of the idea to consider whether or not it even could be possible for God. They do not answer God’s question to them. They do not say with hope that “Yes, all things are possible for God, there is nothing too wonderful for the Lord,” and perhaps they cannot. Perhaps Sarah’s grief is so consuming that she doesn’t have room for the faith to answer God. But even when they fail to answer Him, God’s plans move forward. Even without an answer from Sarah, God goes ahead with his plans to drive away her grief. Even with no answer, the question remains: Is anything too wonderful for the Lord?

Abraham and Sarah do not answer God’s question. We too, can have trouble answering that question. We can be skeptical at best. When we are centered in our grief’s there are times when things seem hopeless and we cannot see the possibilities that God brings to us. When our vision is obscured by our grief we cannot see an answer to the question: Is anything too wonderful for the Lord?

But though we, like Sarah, cannot always answer God, we are still given the answer. Jesus answers the question for us. Mark records Jesus’ saying, “For mortals it is impossible, but not for God; for God all things are possible.” Jesus knew this answer even as he begged for his cup to be taken from Him in the garden of Gethsemane. He knew that all things were possible to God. Jesus knew the answer and that answer stayed the same on the miraculous Easter morning when death was overcome. Is anything too wonderful for the Lord?

Jesus’ death and resurrection is an ultimate sign of what Abraham and Sarah already witnessed. With God all things are possible. God’s power supersedes our own ability to trust in him. It supersedes all things – all things are made new. God’s power was greater than Abraham and Sarah’s grief. God’s possibilities showed the disciples and the world that death was not the ultimate end. The disciples were shocked and disbelieving in the resurrection, even knowing the promises that Jesus would be raised. But despite the disciples doubt, the impossible came to be: Jesus was alive! Despite Sarah’s doubt, the impossible came to be, she bore a son. Despite our doubts and our grief’s, who knows what impossible things may come to be. With God all things are possible, even when we find ourselves in the hopelessness of grief. Is anything too wonderful for the Lord?

Psalm 46 reminds us to “Be still, and know that I am God.” And sometimes, that is all we can stand to do. Leaping into faith is too hard. Action is too hard. Faith, Trust and Hope can all be too hard. But even standing still, frozen by the grief, paralyzed by storms raging around us we can hear God’s question to Sarah and to us, “Is anything too wonderful for the Lord?”

It may not be immediately that we see the effects of God’s work. We may not have an immediate response to our grief and our pain. We may still doubt that all things are possible for God. God’s work is often hard to see and hear. It does not always work in the way we’d like it to, but if we seek to know God in our grief we will be confronted with the question “Is anything too wonderful for the Lord?” And even when we don’t answer His question, God moves forward, and sometimes he drags us with him, whether we are ready or not. No matter whether we can answer the question at that moment, God is walking with us in grief and bringing us ultimately back to laughter.

Sarah did not believe that a child would be given to her. She had abandoned that hope, but God forced her to reevaluate the situation. Her bitter laughter was turned and the joke wasn’t on God but on Sarah. And ultimately Isaac, Sarah’s son, bore witness to this fact as Isaac means “He Laughs.” We know that God had the last laugh in this story, bringing Abraham and Sarah to a new place of hope and faith. And finally the joke wasn’t on Sarah really either, for it was a win-win for all. In Isaac was a wonderful gift, an impossibility made real, a visible answer to the question: Is anything too wonderful for the Lord?

AMEN.

T- 1.5 hours.

I have reached the time before preaching where I am unable to do much else. I don't want to over practice and I can't quite concentrate on anything else. There are times that I wish I was a pastor by trade rather than a Children's Ministry person. I think that having to write and preach more often would help to hone my skills. As it is, I can still count the number of times I've preached in my life on my hands. Today makes # 7.

I'll post the sermon this afternoon. It is the one that I asked all the questions about infertility and whether or not it was appropriate. In the end I stuck to the story closely and I hope I avoided platitudes while ending up with something hopeful. We'll have to see. I'd love folks comments when I post it later.

In other news: Doppler had his front claws taken out and his teeth cleaned yesterday. I expect to hear from the vet soon about whether they'll let him go home today or want another day there just because he is a bit older and may need some additional recovery time. I still felt terrible doing it and my biggest worry is that he'll think he was abandoned again. We got him at the humane society at age 1 after someone dropped him off overnight with no info. But it appeared that he was well taken care of so he was probably a kitten who was loved who grew into a big old cat. I love him though and he has improved so much in his fear that we wouldn't come back. When we first got him he would stress whenever we left the room. He's so much better after 3 years with us. I just want him to know that I'm coming back to get him. *sniffle*

Oh, and I made my chili for the cookoff last night. The secret ingredients were chocolate and raspberry chipotle sauce. We'll see how it is recieved. I hope Chris managed to get it there. He is getting a cold, poor guy and was seriously tempted to blow off school this morning. He went in anyway and I hope he's feeling better.

My glasses still aren't in despite it being 2 1/2 weeks since I was at the eye place. Apparently my frames are causing the trouble. I'd like to get them though since I'm supposed to use them reading and working on the computer and my eye fatigue seems worse lately. Hopefully soon.

Ok. Maybe I'll look at the sermon a bit more. I'll post it later.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Just because.


This can be found here.
Now back to your regularly scheduled blogging...

Monday, March 05, 2007

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

The Good
1. I found my Jerusalem Cross necklace that I had misplaced (Read: Put somewhere safe so I wouldn't lose it and promptly lost it). I'm really glad to have it back since it is from my trip to Israel.

2. I won a $100 itunes gift card from the local radio station. I need to pick it up this week but I'm looking forward to my music shopping spree!

3. I have a full set of teachers for this rotation and only one more to go.

4. A parent initiated an idea for an event and is working hard to see it through. Yay!

The Bad
1. My office is a major mess and has been on my list to clean for a while. But the Senior Pastor mentioned it so it goes up the list faster. It is currently ahead of my sermon for Wed. I'd better get cracking.

2. I upset my office support staff by getting something in late and now I need to figure out how to make it better. (I did apologize profusely).

3. The gym Lenten discipline bit has not been happening and it really needs too.

4. The parking lot at our apartment has still not been plowed and is now 6 inches of sheer ice.

The Ugly
1. Doppler, my dumb but beloved cat, goes in for declawing tomorrow. We put it off for a long time but getting new furniture put us over the edge. I feel like a terrible kitty mommy.

2. Tomorrow I'm attempting to make Chili for Chris' Chili cookoff at school. It won't necessarily be ugly, but it has extreme potential.

3. I have to preach on Wednesday and am wondering what the heck I was thinking. I am NOT a preacher. eep!

4. I need to get the trumpet out to get in shape for Palm Sunday and Easter...now THAT will be ugly.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Friday Five: Artsy Crafty

As posted by reverendmother at RevGalBlogPals:

During Lent here at Suburban Presbyterian Church, we are exploring the creative and liturgical arts, with classes and speakers dealing with storytelling, iconography, dance, visual art, writing, and so on. The theme is "A Beautiful Thing," inspired by the story of the woman anointing Jesus and his declaration that "She has done a beautiful thing for me." (Mark 14, NIV) We are working on the notion that everything we do can be considered a beautiful thing--a creative offering to God--whether it's gardening or scrapbooking or accounting or sorting clothes at the clothes closet or child-rearing. And so :
1. Would you call yourself "creative"? Why or why not?

I would call myself creative to an extent, but I think deep down my appreciation of creative goes farther than my own inherent creativeness. Nevertheless, I've been known to have a random turn of phrase or doodle that varifies that there is some creativity at work up there. And of course, I keep on trying. I'll let you know when I finish the great American novel, open my gallery and my jazz CD goes platinum...but it won't be anytime soon!

2. Share a creative or artistic pursuit you currently do that you'd like to develop further.

So many things. Right now I'd really like to be able to write something worthwhile. It is a deep seated desire to see my name in print and though I'm not yet sure what I'd like to write I need to take the time to cultivate that more often.

3. Share a creative or artistic pursuit you have never done but would like to try.

I'm am new to the world of scrapbooking and am anxious to get started on my first project. We'll see if I have the patience for all the doodads though. It is projects like that that stall out for me.

4. Complete this sentence: "I am in awe of people who can _____________."

Compose music. There is so much that can be expressed in music, but whenever I've tried it seems so flat. Yet there is so much potential in a few random notes.

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.

My mom, no question. She's always led by example with creativity and in anything she tries she does it well, not by immediate skill but through hard work and persistence (although she is immensely talented too). She's a published poet and children's author. She is now working on her own music for the church (anthems and hymns). Throughout my childhood she was trying something new - sculpture, painting, carpentry, writing, composing, anything. Everything that has crossed her mind to try she does with wonderful success, but more than that it is done with a fearlessness that is amazing. I can't express it fully but to have the passion to experiment and make it work for its own sake. That's really cool and I hope I can have that as I get older.