Friday, February 29, 2008

Friday Five: Leap Day!

It's Leap Day!! Whether you're one of the special few who have a birthday only once every four years, or simply confused by the extra day on the calendar, everyone is welcome to join in and play our Leap Year Friday Five.

Tell us about a time you:

1. Leapt before looked

The biggest leap was probably when I moved to California, which at first seemed temporary, but became permanent. I received a call on a Monday and was asked to sing with a band for the summer. On Friday, I left my jobs, moved out of my apartment and left for California, where through a series of introductions and events, I met the folks that brought me here.

2. Leapt to a conclusion

I do this a lot.

3. Took a Leap of Faith

The actual moving to SF was a leap of faith b/c I had a church job that paid very little in the most expensive city in the country, but here I am, 10 years later, and I love it here more now than I did then.

4. Took a literal Leap

Over a puddle? I'm not so much with the leaping.

5. And finally, what might you be faced with leaping in the coming year?

The only leaping I hope to do this year is leaping onto airplanes to do some much yearned for travel.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Forgive and leave me the hell alone!

I've never been so much with the forgiveness. I'm better than I used to be, but not great. Basically, if you screw me, you're dead to me. I used to hold grudges pretty tightly, but I've really let go of that, as it only hurts me. I don't have any conscious bad feelings toward people who have wronged me, but I certainly don't want to have any interactions with them. I don't think that re-kindling a friendship is always part of forgiveness - sometimes, but not always. It is something I'd like to get better at though.

As I've mentioned earlier, this Lenten season has included more focused time with God and more interactions and there have been some meditations on the subject of forgiveness. I've basically said to God what I said above, that I don't hate them but I don't want to see them. Then, of course, this week includes seeing two people from FCC (former community church), one the ultimate wronger to whom I only refer as Rev. Evilspawn and the other a former member who didn't do anything to me but represents that place is here at the conference in Oregon.

Evilspawn lives in my neighborhood and the law of averages made that inevitable. There are other folks, though, that I dread having an interaction with, if pressed. I say "other folks" like there's a list. There's really just 2. Seriously, can I just CLEP out of this one?

Jesus is Cool

Retail Ministry in the Land of No Sales Tax

Ah, Oregon. Land of Mighty Ducks, the Columbia River Gorge and No Sales Tax. What a beautiful thing. I'm here at the McMenamins Edgefield at the Womens Convergence conference just outside of Portland for some fun and conversation and relaxation. The weather here today has been absolutely gorgeous. Rain was in the forecast, but we were pleasantly surprised by a warm(ish) sunny day.

This morning as I sat in the sessions, I had a lot of questions about why I was here. I bristle at the idea of "Women's Ministry" but I know that these are women who do the same but still want to draw encouragement from each other, and I've met some great ones. I've heard some really moving stories, and for the first time since taking some classes in spiritual director school, I've become aware of the privilege it is to listen to someone tell their story and hold it with them into the light of God's love. Some of the women here are reluctant leaders. Some are reticent leaders. Some are in dark places, dry places, lonely places. Some are light and bubbly (I stay away from them). They're all great, strong women who want to lead people in the way of Christ and are looking for others to travel that journey with them.

After lunch, I skipped out on the afternoon activities (of which there weren't many) and navigated the mass transit system (MAX) to the downtown area to shop. It's such an interesting mix of east coast and old west with modern touches. Mostly it reminds me of a more urban, populated Missoula, Montana. Sorry if that doesn't help you. There are a couple of things I've noticed here that are different than SF. First, it's difficult to distinguish between those who are homeless and those who are not. I'm not sure if the homeless people are fancy or the not homeless people are grungy. Probably a bit of both. Second, there are a lot of piercings around the mouth area. Finally, people wave and say thank you to the bus driver as they get off. Oh, and the buses are really clean.

Tonight is dinner and a game night. I'm not so much into the games, so there is an on-site movie theater here that is showing Sweeny Todd at 9 and I'm going to catch that - one more to check off my lists before the Oscars!

Friday, February 22, 2008

Gone Sippin'

Well, kids, I'm writing to you now from the darling Eugene, OR, airport. I've finished a cup of seafood chowder and am preparing to board my connecting flight to Portland for the Convergence retreat. I'm excited to go b/c I'll get to re-connect with women I've met and get to meet new friends who are on the ministry path in the post-modern world and will have an opportunity to learn from them. But let's be serious. It's at a winery with a spa. I'm having a hot stone massage on Sunday afternoon and that's really what's getting me through. The ministry stuff will be nice, of course. But there's a spa. Did I mention?

I'm more excited than a person should be about such an excursion b/c most of the time if I travel anywhere it's to PHX to see the family, whom I love. I feel like a grownup going on my own trip. This year is about travel and fun, as I'm going to the ATL in May and then I will go to PHX to see the babies over the 4th. I heart traveling. If you do to, you might want to check out the great deals at my travel website :-) I'm just saying...

This weekend, when you think about it, please breathe continual prayers for Dieter & Val Zander and their family. As one would expect with a health crisis of this magnitude, recovery comes in fits and starts, with moments of encouragement and panic. Please keep them in your thoughts. Thanks.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

RevGals Heavenly Friday Five

This Week's Friday Five from Singing Owl.

What is your idea of a heavenly (i.e. wonderful and perfect):

1. Family get-together

A heavenly get-together is when I get to try out new recipes for fancy food. We go to the store, get the stuff, and everyone gets out of my way and I have the kitchen to myself. A masterpiece emerges and I am greeted with appropriate reverence. Dinner is served, compliments are lavished upon me, and someone else cleans up while I play with the babies.

2. Song or musical piece

This is a tough one for me as a musician who loves many genres of music. My favorite piece of choral music is Brahms' Requiem and it is transcendent. For me, heavenly music is the exact right piece at the exact right moment - it could be Def Leppard or Fanny Crosby, but never Yanni.

3. Gift

A good book, a day at the spa, iTunes gift cards.

4. You choose whatever you like-food, pair of shoes, vacation, house, or something else. Just tell us what it is and what a heavenly version of it would be.

Chicken tikka masala from Naan & Curry that was still made entirely of heavy cream, but that didn't make me fat. Any Christian Laboutin shoe that didn't cost more than my car. A house on the beach in Mendocino - no need to improve on that.

5. And for a serious moment, or what would you like your entrance into the next life to be like? What, from your vantage point now, would make Heaven "heavenly?"

Warmth, love, family, and an eternity of the aforementioned chicken tikka masala.

End of strike happy dance

I haven't yet commented here on my elation at the end of the writers' strike, but suffice it to say, I'm stoked. The TV landscape was becoming more bleak by the moment, and while I tried to get into new series that debuted, I didn't watch any of them and have cleared the DVR of their electronic carcases. The one show I did watch all of was Lost - start to finish - and I am now officially caught up and into season 4 and I must say, it's good TV. It's not just folks on an island. It's creepy folks on an island, with polar bears and a monster. And Josh Holloway shirtless. Have I mentioned? HOT.

One of the best things about the end of the strike is that the Oscars will go on. I heart the Oscars. That and the Golden Globes are the only shows I watch and this year's press conference for the Globes was not fun. Unfortunately, I will not be able to watch them live as I will be gone this weekend, but I will be watching them Monday immediately upon my return, so DON'T SAY ANYTHING!

Finally, ABC (which is where most of my favorite shows live) has announced the return dates of my shows. They all come back (with a handful of episodes to finish off the season) beginning just in time for my birthday. Coincidence? I think not.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Lenten Listening

This season's Lenten practice has been an interesting one for me. Really, all I've done is read daily (so far) through Small Surrenders by Emilie Griffin and maybe skip an event or two that doesn't seem Lent-appropriate, but that's it. No great sacrifice, no giving up, no fasting. Not surprisingly, I am more centered and focused in all areas of my life, particularly work and friendships. The people-orientation shift is still moving along nicely. I'm darn near pleasant most of the time. The thing that has been most drastically different is the way I am communicating with God. We seem to be having real-time dialogs and I am finding it easy to distinguish God's voice from the voice in my head. It's been interesting. God's told me not to do some things that I'd wanted to do, which bums me out but I know it's for the best.

We had a conversation the other day about something that I'm really not into that I think God wants me to be open to. It wasn't a big emotional, mystical event at all. It was God saying, I want you to be open to this, me saying I'd rather not and here's why, God saying, just trust me, etc. Then that day we had a concert in the lobby at work - another conversation - but it was good and the girl sang a song that was VERBATIM what God was asking of me. I rolled my eyes, said, yeah, you're hilarious, and went back to work. It's an interesting time.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

The Damned 123 Book Meme

I'm usually a meme person but this one has been so ubiquitous that it's downright annoying. However, Leslie tagged me, and I love her, but I refuse to tag anyone else in hopes that it will go away that much sooner.

1) Grab the nearest book of 123 pages or more.
2) Open it to page 123.
3) Find the first 5 sentences and write them down.
4) Invite five friends to do the same.

So here's my contribution to this meme.

"With the thought of his wife, guilty regret swept over him. What a wedding present he had given her. Did his daughter know? He couldn't bear it if his daughter knew. But perhaps that's why she had grown distant, helping him only as far as mean duty demanded."

From People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks.

That's what you're getting. Syphillis. That's right. He's dying of tertiary syphillis. Meme that.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Friday Five: Water and Word

Rev HRod over at Revgals writes:

In this Sunday's gospel Nicodemus asks Jesus, "How can anyone be born after having grown old? Can one enter a second time into the mother's womb and be born?" Poor old Nicodemus! He was so confused about the whole "water and Spirit" business of baptism.
For today's five, tell us about your baptismal experiences.

1. When and where were you baptized? Do you remember it? Know any interesting tidbits?
I was baptized on September 5, 1977. It was a baptist church and we had baptisms every service. It was also a live telecast (local) so it was on TV. We had a choir of about 250 and at the beginning of the baptismal time, they would sing the verse of "Lo, in the grave He lay." Then when all the baptisms were done, they sang the chorus of the same hymn, "Up from the grave He arose!" I was 5 at the time and first on the alphabetical list that Sunday evening. There were bathroom/changing rooms for each gender on either side of the baptistry. My mom was up there with me and they put me in the white shirt and shorts, and I think I might have had a bathing suit on underneath. When I got up there, the pastor started going on about how my family was all involved in the church, my dad was a deacon and my mom was in the music ministry, etc. I was so embarrassed. I just wanted him to shut up and dunk me.

2. What's the most unexpected thing you've ever witnessed at a baptism?
A couple of near-chokings b/c people didn't bend their knees.

3. Does your congregation have any special traditions surrounding baptisms?
We have this ridiculously cheesy song that they make me do when we baptize infants - "You Will Always Be A Child in My Eyes." The parents love it, but it's pretty awful.

4. Are you a godparent or baptismal sponsor? Have a story to tell?
Not yet.

5. Do you have a favorite baptismal song or hymn?
I like "I Will Never Be" from Hillsongs

I will never be the same again
I can never return, I've closed the door
I will walk the path, I will run the race
And I will never be the same again

Fall like fire, soak like rain
Flow like mighty waters again and again
Sweep away the darkness, burn away the chaff
And let a flame burn to glorify Your name

There are higher heights, there are deeper seas
Whatever you need to do, Lord, do it in me
The glory of God fills my life
And I will never be the same again

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Wardrobe Malfunction

For my sesquicentennial post, I bring to you a tale of emerald green, defective ruching, and mass transit.

Today, I wore, the above top for the first time. Super cute, super comfortable, and I even had green and white gingham flats to match. Put it all together with a smart pair of trouser jeans and I was ready for another day downtown. Fast forward to the gym. I went to the Chisel class - loved it - cleaned up and was getting dressed to go back to work when.....rrrrrrrrrrrrrip! The ruching on the right side ripped apart and there was a huge hole in my previously cute sweater. As you can see, the ruching is in a particularly unfortunate place for being ripped and I couldn't walk around like that. What's a girl to do?

Fortunately (or unfortunately, depending on your point of view), the sweater came from our KK Main Brand, so I called the nearest store @ E3 to see if they had it in stock. They did not. Mild panic. Then I called Giant Flagship. They did indeed have it. Good times, but I had to use the MUNI to get there. I ran down to the corner, hopped on the N and jetted to the Powell Street station. Ran in, explained my predicament, made the exchange and changed in the fitting room in 5 minutes. Got back on the MUNI and headed back to work, all sewn up and fabulous.

So, kids, what have we learned from today's story? A ruch in time saves nine.

Saturday, February 09, 2008


Accidentally did a little shopping today. In my defense, I didn't previously own square-toed, low-heeled pumps in patent leather aubergine.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Friday Five: What Are You Doing for Lent?

1. Did you celebrate Mardi Gras and/or Ash Wednesday this week? How?

I did. Since we share our church facilities and don't have access to them on Wednesdays, we had home gatherings around the city. One was at my house and we read some poetry, did a Lectio Divina reading of Psalm 51 and did the ashes thing. I also had pancakes for dinner on Tuesday.

2. What was your most memorable Mardi Gras/Ash Wednesday/Lent?

Probably the first time I went to a Catholic Mass on Ash Wednesday - it was a rich experience.

3. Did you/your church/your family celebrate Lent as a child? If not, when and how did you discover it?

We did not. I learned about it in college, but didn't start observing it until I was in seminary.

4. Are you more in the give-up camp, or the take-on camp, or somewhere in between?

Depends on the year. I've done both, but this year I'm in the middle.

5. How do you plan to keep Lent this year?

I'm trying to bring a more contemplative focus to my daily life by incorporating the practice of devotional reading in the morning. I'm also attending or not attending events based on how they'll contribute to my state of mind during this time.

City-fied and Fabulous!

We have nearly come to the end of my first week of being a true city girl - living AND working in the city, commuting on the N Judah, no less. There is nothing more San Franciscan than the N - jostling, diverse, and sometimes a bit smelly. Is it too soon to say that I LOVE it? The N picks up half a block in front of my house and drops me off right in front of my building on the Embarcadero & Folsom. My car is getting a much-needed break after rolling over 100,000 miles last week.

Our offices face the water and have a view of the bay, the arrow and the Bay Bridge - fabulous. The cafe is on the 7th floor and there is outdoor seating on the roof. I can walk across the street to the Ferry Building or down Spear if I want other culinary choices. All the benefits of downtown without the stifling feeling of being surrounded by skyscrapers in the Financial District.

I've joined the gym across the street, with a great corporate plan, gorgeous facilities and friendly staff for a mere $8/month more than what I was paying before. I went to a yoga class there yesterday and I liked it but the instructor will no longer be teaching there as of next week. He's leaving to manage another yoga studo and to more actively pursue his side career as a drag entertainer. Only here. And that's why I love it.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Pray for Dieter Zander

For those of you who are of the praying persuasion, I would ask for prayer for a friend and seminary professor, Dieter Zander. Dieter is the Pastor of Arts and Spiritual Formation at Bay Marin Church in San Rafael, CA. Last night, Dieter suffered a stroke and had emergency surgery this morning. The surgery was successful and he is in a medically-induced coma to aid the healing process. The next 24 hours are critical. He is in his mid-40s, is married to the brilliant Val and has three teenage sons. Please pray for their family.

I first encountered Dieter back in 1994 at my first Willow Creek Leadership Conference where he was the music director of their burgeoning Axis ministry. Little did I know that he would become my teacher and friend. After I moved to San Francisco, I was in a discussion group with him at a missions conference, but was too star struck to talk to him. He later re-located to the Bay Area and began teaching Worship studies as an adjunct professor when I was a student there. I ended up working quite a bit with him and over the years he's invited me to sing with him in various worship settings. He's a brilliant thinker and probably the most talented musician I've ever known in real life. Just Google him.

There will be two prayer vigils held for him tonight - one in San Francisco at 5:00 at the home of a friend and one at Bay Marin Church tonight at 7:30. If you cannot join in body please join in spirit.

UPDATE: Bay Marin has set up a blog for updates of Dieter's condition here - please use this and ONLY this for your information, as there is some misinformation floating around out there.