Sunday, September 28, 2008

80/20

For nearly the last two weeks (roughly 80% of them) I've not consciously been aware of any anxiety. There have been some poor eating habits in the last week, but I chalk that up to the work people continually bringing in food for other people's birthdays. I've known in theory that I should have some level of anxiety and today it hit me. I'm a bit scared of what will be on this mammogram. I know that the chances of it being nothing are, well, 80%, so that's good. But today, with about 20% of those 2 weeks to go, I've gotten nervous. I've never had a mammogram before, let alone a diagnostic one with an ultra-sound because there's something in there that maybe shouldn't be there. I've been practicing though - lying on the ground and allowing the garage door to close on me. I'm told it's very similar.

Our church is relocating and today was our last day in the space. Such change can be disconcerting for some and so I chose songs about God being constant and holding us regardless of changing circumstances. A lot of our folks are dealing with personal upheaval as well as our community transition, so I hope the song choices were as comforting for them as they were for me. The songs, with my favorite parts of them were:

The classic Psalm 105
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases
God's mercies never come to an end
They are new every morning, new every morning
Great is Your faithfulness, Oh Lord
Great is Your faithfulness

The Solid Rock - my favorite verse is:
His oath, His covenant, His blood
Support me in the whelming flood
When all around my soul gives way
He then is all my hope and stay

Your Love is Deep by Jami Smith

Your love is deeper than my view of grace
Higher than this worldly place
Longer than this road I've traveled
Wider than the gap you filled

In Your Hands by Reuben Morgan
I'm so secure, You're here with me
You stay the same
Your love remains here in my heart
So close I believe You're holding me now
In Your hands I belong, You'll never let me go

Because I'm a church musician I automatically go to music for identification and comfort. These are just a few of the many that I love. I spent the rest of the day madly working to organize my room, putting out a sizable donation for Salvation Army to pick up tomorrow, baking peanut butter cookies and getting myself ready for the day tomorrow. The anxiety has lessened somewhat but it's still there. I would appreciate your prayers (although, given the sensitive nature of this issue, there will be no laying on of hands). I have my dear friend Lilyan coming with me to my appointment. She and I have been friends since sixth grade and she lives in LA. She happens to be up here for a few weeks for work, so it's worked out great. I know that on Tuesday I'll go in, it will all be fine, and I'll see them next year. All good. I just want to know NOW. Until then, I know that I can rest in the stability and covenant love of God that will never let me go.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Johnny Appleseed Friday Five


Raise your hand if you know that today is Johnny Appleseed Day!

September 26, 1774 was his birthday. "Johnny Appleseed" (John Chapman) is one of America's great legends. He was a nurseryman who started out planting trees in western New York and Pennsylvania, but he was among those who were captivated by the movement west across the continent.

As Johnny traveled west (at that time, the "West" was places like Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, and Illinois) he planted apple trees and sold trees to settlers. With every apple tree that was planted, the legend grew. A devout Christian, he was known to preach during his travels. According to legend, Johny Appleseed led a simple life and wanted little. He rarely accepted money and often donated any money he received to churches or charities. He planted hundreds of orchards, considering it his service to humankind. There is some link between Johny Appleseed and very early Arbor Day celebrations.

So, in honor of this interesting fellow, let's get on with the questions!

1. What is your favorite apple dish? (BIG BONUS points if you share the recipe.)

I like a good old fashioned apple pie.

2. Have you ever planted a tree? If so was there a special reason or occasion you can tell us about?

I've never ceremoniously planted a tree. One year we got a live Christmas tree and then planted it in our yard and it was ginormous.

3. Does the idea of roaming around the countryside (preaching or otherwise) appeal to you? Why or why not?

I love the idea of roaming around the countryside - I think it would be great fun. Preaching would make it all the more enjoyable, but not in a Great Awakening sort of way (not that there's anything wrong with that). I just love the Bible and love sharing its truths with people.

4. Who is a favorite "historical legend" of yours?

I don't know if I have a favorite "historical legend" but I have a favorite historical person about whom there are many legends - Teresa of Avila.

5. Johnny Appleseed was said to sing to keep up his spirits as he traveled the roads of the west. Do you have a song that comes when you are trying to be cheerful, or is there something else that you often do?

I sing all the time and often don't realize it. I sing when my spirits are up but not to keep them up. My spirits are rarely down, but if they are, it's usually a mani/pedi, walk in the park or a light comedy.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Weekend While You Wait

Last weekend was the best one I've had in recent memory. It was an intentional effort on my part to have a great all-about-me weekend that came on the heels of some...well....interesting news from my doctor. It seems as though in my physical she found a lump. The standard procedure is a mammogram and a consultation with a surgeon and those things are on the books, but I have had to wait a bit to get in for those appointments. I'm genuinely not worried about it because these things are very common and are much more often nothing than something. The good news is that if I did need a mastectomy, they can reconstruct using fat from various parts of the body. Now that's what I call a win-win. However, I felt it necessary to ease my waiting time with some great time over the weekend that would make my two-week wait a bit more palatable. Here is the breakdown by day:

Friday

I have the best work crew imaginable. I've mentioned how great the boss is, but the rest of the team is brilliant as well. I've told them about the mutinous boob in case I end up needing to be gone from work any more and they've been great about it. Friday afternoon they presented me with a gift card for a spa day. Very sweet. It got a little less sweet when Boss Man Spa Nazi emphatically noted that it WASN'T TO BE USED FOR SHOPPING AND WAS TO BE USED THAT WEEKEND. Easy there, killer - got it. I had already made an appointment with Cynthia, facial lady extraordinaire, so now it was covered.

Friday evening my friend AM came over and I made a chicken and corn chowder for dinner. If I may say, kids, this is an amazing chowder. It's quick, warm, comforting and filling. For dessert I made this cherry-crumble-type thing that is an old family favorite. It's called Mix-Mix-Mix but oddly, there's no mixing. It's more assembling than anything else. It's a can of cherry pie filling, a Jiffy (b/c it's a small box, or half of a regular one) white cake mix, dry and sprinkled on top of cherries. Then cover with a cup of oats and then melt a stick of butter and drizzle over it all. You can sprinkle on some pecans if you're so inclined. Then you bake the whole think at 425 for about 30 minutes. I can't describe how satisfying this is. I served it with chocolate ice cream and it was amazing.

As we ate our dinner we watched Children of Men. Interesting. Lots of spiritual overtones. Clive Owen is hot. Those are my take-aways.

Saturday

I woke up at my leisure (although I was excited about my day so I didn't sleep too long) and made pumpkin biscuits for breakfast. This is a fall favorite of mine and a traditional breakfast on Thanksgiving day for my family. I have a Saturday morning ritual of making breakfast and watching The Soup from the night before, then I showered and went to get a mani/pedi. Following my nail time I went up to Marin to see Burn After Reading at my favorite movie theater. It seems as though it was See Your First Coen Brothers' Film day at the Corte Madera theater. About 2/3 of the way through the film a woman behind me whispered to her companion, "This is really kind of strange." Mmmm hmmm. Yeah. Then in the restroom, a lady was discussing the film with her friend and her recap was, "It started out funny, then it got cynical and then it got really dark." IT'S A COEN BROTHERS' FILM. And, for them, this was pretty "radio friendly." There were only 2 murders, and only one of them was particularly grizzly. Really, it was Coen Brothers' Lite. Brad Pitt was HI-larious in it and John Malkovich played his desperate former intelligence agent to self-indulgent perfection.

Following the movie I did a little errand running/shopping and then headed off to my facial appointment at 4. Got home around 6:30, had some leftover chowder for dinner and got to work on some church stuff.

Sunday

Did church in the morning and I have to say it was a blast. I was leading worship and the songs were fun, the band was fun and it all just went really well. Following our Town Hall meeting regarding the move to OAPC, I went and met Annelies for brunch. We went to Brenda's which is a French soul food restaurant. It is, in a word, foodgasmic. Brenda herself was there cooking and I told our server, who told her, that if I were on death row, this would be my last meal. I had the fried catfish eggs benedict with Creole hollandaise sauce and hash. The biscuits are beyond description as is the homemade strawberry preserves. It was altogether fabulous.

After brunch we headed over to the Opera Plaza cinema for TransSiberian. Interesting suspense thriller with some plot holes, but overall a good flick. After a stroll through the nearby bookstore and some grocery shopping, I headed home. The Cowboys beat the Green Bay Packers (in Lambeau Field!!!) rather handily and then I watched the Emmys.

It was truly the best weekend ever and so very needed. I'm looking forward to the upcoming swirl of activity and it will all be made much easier by last weekend's relax-a-thon.

Friday, September 19, 2008

RevGals Fall Equinox Friday Five

Songbird writes:

It's that time of year, at least north of the equator. The windows are still open, but the darned furnace comes on early in the morning. My husband went out for a walk after an early supper and came home in full darkness.

And yes, where we live, leaves are beginning to turn.

As this vivid season begins, tell us five favorite things about fall:

1) A fragrance: baking, cinnamon, apple cider, nutmeg

2) A color: deep purple, cranberry, gold, brown, orange

3) An item of clothing: new sweaters!

4) An activity: football, but it's more an activity for the teams I'm watching than for me. I have to turn on the TV, though, so it's not like I'm doing nothing.

5) A special day: Thanksgiving b/c it's my favorite holiday and I do much of the cooking. The Cowboys play, I get to see my babies and the food is fantastic!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Friday Five: Back to School


It's time for a Back-To-School Friday Five!

1. Is anyone going back to school, as a student or teacher, at your house? How's it going so far?

Nope. No students or teachers here. Kinda miss it, kinda glad.

2. Were you glad or sad when back-to-school time came as a kid?

Both. I liked school, for the most part, but I also liked spending 3 months in the swimming pool and watching my favorite block of TV shows on KPHO TV 5 in Phoenix - Dick van Dyke, Andy Griffith, I Love Lucy, Hogan's Heroes - then back to the pool!

3. Did your family of origin have any rituals to mark this time of year? How about now?

We bought school supplies and clothes. The parents also took pictures of us on the first day of school. I also often would get a new hairdo before a school year. Kindergarten was Tenille and First grade was Dorothy Hamil.

4. Favorite memories of back-to-school outfits, lunchboxes, etc?

Hands down it's the metal Battlestar Galactica lunch box from second grade. I had a pretty cool red plastic Peanuts one as well.

5. What was your best year of school?

My senior year of high school. Our class ran the school (in a good way) and we had great relationships with our teachers. I had a solid group of friends and the whole year was great fun. At our graduation our teachers begged us not to go b/c the juniors were a total disaster.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Vulnerability Friday 5

Sally posted this Today:

It seems almost crass to post a Friday 5 after Mary-Beth's last post and prayer request for our dear Gannet Girl and her family. So I hope that folk will take this in the spirit with which it is offered; that of continuing prayer and concern tempered by the knowledge that we are called both to weep and to rejoice with our communities.

I have recently been reading a book entitled Jesus wept, it is all about vulnerability in leadership. The authors speak of how Jesus shared his earthly frustrations and vulnerabilities with a select group of people. To some he was the charismatic leader and teacher, to others words of wisdom were opened and explained and some frustrations shared, to his "inner circle of friends: Peter, James and John, he was most fully himself, and in all of these things he was open to God.So I bring you this weeks Friday 5:

1. Is vulnerability something that comes easily to you, or are you a private person?

I'm pretty private and not a big sharer. I tend to process emotional information internally and then I can share about it when I'm done. I have a few friends with whom I share everything, but I don't just give it away.

2.How important is it to keep up a professional persona in work/ ministry?

At work it's important, although I can't always say I'm successful at it. I'm a creative type amongst lawyers, but cool lawyers, if that's possible, so they are sweet enough to help me channel my creative inappropriateness toward projects that don't make me look like such a doofus. In ministry it's tricky, especially as a single female. I have to be appropriately vulnerable without being dishonest or manipulative. It's also important for me to discern between actual friendships and ministry relationships because occasionally I've gotten the two confused. In those instances it's an issue of unmet (unrealistic) expectations, because I've assumed a reciprocity that the other person is not capable of and have therefore been a bit drained. It's a process.

3. Masks, a form of self protection discuss...

Sometimes a necessary social evil. Overall,I think masks aren't necessarily a bad thing because not everyone needs to know everything. I have a few friends who will figuratively hold back my hair while I emotionally vomit but that's not everyone's business.

4. Who knows you warts and all?

Anni, Vanessa, Heather, Kenny, Momi and my family

5. Share a book, a prayer, a piece of music, a poem or a person that touches the deep place in your soul, and calls you to be who you are most authentically.

Brennan Manning's The Wisdom of Tenderness

Hey Minnesota - Do You Smell Smoke? 'Cause a lot of pants are on fire

This is an Associated Press article - not an article from a "liberal rag." The Republicans are continuing to use the Karl Rove strategy of lying through their collective teeth to try to convince the American public that Sarah Palin is qualified for the VP slot. I am blown away that she chose her timeslot at the convention to pander to the lowest common denominator with sarcasm and outright lies rather than actually address what makes her qualified and what she actually would do for this country. As Jon Stewart pointed out, basically all we know about her now is that she can read Wikipedia. I won't even go into her snide community organizer comment because that is absolutely ridiculous and I'll get to it in another rant. As you read through this article, please notice that the one statement categorized as a "whopper" comes from former Baptist minister Mike Huckabee, the center of his own little axis of evil.

By JIM KUHNHENN, Associated Press Writer Wed Sep 3, 11:48 PM ET
ST. PAUL, Minn. - Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and her Republican supporters held back little Wednesday as they issued dismissive attacks on Barack Obama and flattering praise on her
Some examples:


PALIN: "I have protected the taxpayers by vetoing wasteful spending ... and championed reform to end the abuses of earmark spending by Congress. I told the Congress 'thanks but no thanks' for that Bridge to Nowhere."
THE FACTS: As mayor of Wasilla, Palin hired a lobbyist and traveled to Washington annually to support earmarks for the town totaling $27 million. In her two years as governor, Alaska has requested nearly $750 million in special federal spending, by far the largest per-capita request in the nation. While Palin notes she rejected plans to build a $398 million bridge from Ketchikan to an island with 50 residents and an airport, that opposition came only after the plan was ridiculed nationally as a "bridge to nowhere."


PALIN: "There is much to like and admire about our opponent. But listening to him speak, it's easy to forget that this is a man who has authored two memoirs but not a single major law or reform — not even in the state senate."
THE FACTS: Compared to McCain and his two decades in the Senate, Obama does have a more meager record. But he has worked with Republicans to pass legislation that expanded efforts to intercept illegal shipments of weapons of mass destruction and to help destroy conventional weapons stockpiles. The legislation became law last year. To demean that accomplishment would be to also demean the work of Republican Sen. Richard Lugar of Indiana, a respected foreign policy voice in the Senate. In Illinois, he was the leader on two big, contentious measures in Illinois: studying racial profiling by police and requiring recordings of interrogations in potential death penalty cases. He also successfully co-sponsored major ethics reform legislation.


PALIN: "The Democratic nominee for president supports plans to raise income taxes, raise payroll taxes, raise investment income taxes, raise the death tax, raise business taxes, and increase the tax burden on the American people by hundreds of billions of dollars."
THE FACTS: The Tax Policy Center, a think tank run jointly by the Brookings Institution and the Urban Institute, concluded that Obama's plan would increase after-tax income for middle-income taxpayers by about 5 percent by 2012, or nearly $2,200 annually. McCain's plan, which cuts taxes across all income levels, would raise after tax-income for middle-income taxpayers by 3 percent, the center concluded.
Obama would provide $80 billion in tax breaks, mainly for poor workers and the elderly, including tripling the Earned Income Tax Credit for minimum-wage workers and higher credits for larger families.
He also would raise income taxes, capital gains and dividend taxes on the wealthiest. He would raise payroll taxes on taxpayers with incomes above $250,000, and he would raise corporate taxes. Small businesses that make more than $250,000 a year would see taxes rise.

MCCAIN: "She's been governor of our largest state, in charge of 20 percent of America's energy supply ... She's responsible for 20 percent of the nation's energy supply. I'm entertained by the comparison and I hope we can keep making that comparison that running a political campaign is somehow comparable to being the executive of the largest state in America," he said in an interview with ABC News' Charles Gibson.
THE FACTS: McCain's phrasing exaggerates both claims. Palin is governor of a state that ranks second nationally in crude oil production, but she's no more "responsible" for that resource than President Bush was when he was governor of Texas, another oil-producing state. In fact, her primary power is the ability to tax oil, which she did in concert with the Alaska Legislature. And where Alaska is the largest state in America, McCain could as easily have called it the 47th largest state — by population.

MCCAIN: "She's the commander of the Alaska National Guard. ... She has been in charge, and she has had national security as one of her primary responsibilities," he said on ABC.
THE FACTS: While governors are in charge of their state guard units, that authority ends whenever those units are called to actual military service. When guard units are deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan, for example, they assume those duties under "federal status," which means they report to the Defense Department, not their governors. Alaska's national guard units have a total of about 4,200 personnel, among the smallest of state guard organizations.

FORMER ARKANSAS GOV. MIKE HUCKABEE: Palin "got more votes running for mayor of Wasilla, Alaska than Joe Biden got running for president of the United States."
THE FACTS: A whopper. Palin got 616 votes in the 1996 mayor's election, and got 909 in her 1999 re-election race, for a total of 1,525. Biden dropped out of the race after the Iowa caucuses, but he still got 76,165 votes in 23 states and the District of Columbia where he was on the ballot during the 2008 presidential primaries.

FORMER MASSACHUSETTS GOV. MITT ROMNEY: "We need change, all right — change from a liberal Washington to a conservative Washington! We have a prescription for every American who wants change in Washington — throw out the big-government liberals, and elect John McCain and Sarah Palin."
THE FACTS: A Back-to-the-Future moment. George W. Bush, a conservative Republican, has been president for nearly eight years. And until last year, Republicans controlled Congress. Only since January 2007 have Democrats have been in charge of the House and Senate.
___
Associated Press Writer Jim Drinkard in Washington contributed to this report.

Welcome to my World

I work with some ridiculously funny and creative folks at Mission Bay. We've got some great folks as part of our worship crew and one of them, who's leading this week, sent this e-mail for purposes of recruiting musicians, but it totally cracked me up, so I had to share. Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you Shawn Alpay.

SAN FRANCISCO -- Musical worship at Mission Bay Community Church is to be led exclusively by newly-minted congregation member Shawn Alpay this upcoming Sunday, sources close to the organization have disclosed.

Alpay, 26, who typically coordinates the music with the help of church elder Megan Dunchak, seemed upbeat about the need to lead alone. "You know, our fellowship is blessed to have several talented musicians," Alpay is reported to have mused. "And hopefully some of that talent will show up at 9am on Sunday September 7th for practice in preparation for our weekly 11:08am service. And if not, well, I guess we'll be fine; I'll just berate them all later." A wry smile played on his lips as he made this declaration.

"I'm not so sure about [Alpay], or this whole thing, really," Worship Coordinator Tiffany Flaming said. "Any hack can play the cello, but will he really be able to lead our congregation to the foot of the cross, Jesus-style? I have my doubts." Sources say that the setlist of music for September 7th has been drafted, but a final list has yet to be decided upon. "See what I mean?" asked Flaming.

PresbyPope Bruce Reyes-Chow was not immediately available for comment.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Fashion Faux Pas of the Day: The T-shirt Tuck

Yes, gentlemen, it is in fact quite warm here in San Francisco. We're not used to these 90 degree temperatures so it's quite possible that we don't have the wardrobe for it. Let me tell you what not to do: do NOT wear a t-shirt (however "dressy" said t-shirt may be) TUCKED IN to DRESS PANTS. This is never ok. Ever. There are no exceptions. Since this look was spotted in the elevator in my building, I know for a fact that more casual pants are acceptable and t-shirts are worn untucked here all the time. It's ok. Fly your Casual Friday Flag on this warm Thursday and chill out.