Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Resolutions: Month 4

Every month I'm posting about my resolutions for 2008. I'm happy to say April was a MUUUUCH better month than March, resolutions wise... 

1. i will eat a more balanced and healthy diet. specifically: less take out (actually, the take out has to be its own goal, but i'll put it in here too) more whole grains, less cookies, (waaaay less cookies), more salad, more portion control.
i have made more progress on this goal than any other goal this month. i am the picture of healthy eating... wuuuu-hoooo. got the portion thing down, and the salad thing down, and the cookies. basically the only cookies i eat these days are in those 100 calorie packs. good deal. 

2. i will worry less about future events and spend more time focusing on current blessings
again, i'm doing fairly well on this one. living in the now, being where i am. i give this one a B.  
3. i will nurture my love for art by creating more art, learning more about art, and visiting the art museum more frequently
hmm... i'd give this one a B- for the month. actually, come to think of it B. 
4. i will eat less take-out (this will help with goal number 1, but will also help with general laziness and spendingtoomuchiness.) 
A+ this month. woo hoo. 
5. i will try to keep my apartment more tidy. i know this is a matter of opinion and i, of course, am the only judge, but i'm not planning on cheating MYSELF in my own resolutions
for me, one who constantly struggles with tidy-ness, i'd say i'm doing pretty good on this one. the hardest to keep up on this month = (gulp) dishes. the cooking for myself healthy foods means there are quite a few dishes. i'm working on straightening things up bit by bit, though. 

6. i will try to err on the side of compassion in my personal and professional life. (again, hard to quantify, but i know what i mean.)
hmm... i give this one a B as well...
7. i will drink more WATER, plain detroit tap water, when i am thirsty i will sometimes choose WATER, not diet soda, not tea, not coffee, not juice. WATER. (i am hopeful that this will help with my migraines)
excellent! been drinking water like a fish. the only problem = still getting the migraines. i was pretty convinced that dehydration was a major factor, now that that's clearly not it, gonna have to keep working. 

8. i will finish the devotional book for my dad
This one gets a C- i'm keeping up on it, but barely, and i'm doing them like 4 days at a time. i'd really like to sit down and do a month or two to get ahead. 
9. i will get out of the apartment more, especially when it is lighter in the evening)
I feel fairly good about this one as well. B to B-... taking walks in the evenings, going out with friends, getting back to YOGA! 

10. i will attend more lectures/seminars/workshops and/or read more books on peace and justice related topics.
Again, I'm not doing well on this one C-... it's a good thing that there are 8 months left in this year to keep up. I have been keeping up with Torture news (that sounds funny) and politics, and a little bit with the UN and its involvement with the food price crisis, but other than that, I have not been to lectures/workshops and i've read exactly ZERO BOOKS on peace and justice this month. May, May, your month is coming. 

11. i will intentionally nurture my own spiritual growth, recognizing that i cannot minister to others unless i have received spiritual nurture... i will be willing to try a variety of different things throughout the year (worship service i can attend, spiritual director, personal prayer journaling, etc.) i will keep at it and report on my progress monthly.
C to C+ I'm keeping up with some of the old disciplines, but would like to get moving on some other new ones. Happy about the Sabbath Keeping and prayer, but would like to get moving on some scripture reading and memorization. 

3 things

i'm taking a break from working right now and i would like to point out three things. 

1. my cat, dj, now has a facebook page. as i have proclaimed repeatedly on the other blog, and facebook, and in person, i have the greatest cat in the whole wide world. coming soon: profile picture for dj! i love the internet. 

2. if i were anywhere near princeton at all, i would go to this conference next friday. is there anybody near p-ton that wants to go and give me a report? it's 15 bucks, only. and you get lunch. can't beat it. 

3. this evening i will be posting my progress on my new year's resolutions. (i've been doing it every month, but traci-colored glasses is a new, more widely read blog, so i'll have to catch you up to speed. i am posting that i will be posting for my benefit, because if i post it, i'll do it!) 

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

the difference between younger and older evangelicals in the US, according to tony campolo

great article. it matches up with what i seem to have noticed as well. 

found here via huffington post

tagged to this one by suzanne

I am: God's own.
I think: I know a little about a lot.
I know: who I am.
I want: peace.
I wish: I had the piece of paper we've been waiting for.
I hate: hate.
I miss: E.
I fear: a collapse in the world economy.
I feel: sleepy.
I hear: the beautiful voice of Sara Bareilles.
I smell: chipotle pepper hummus.
I crave: limeade with mint.
I search: for historical context of Bible passages.
I regret: very little.
I love: many things..
I ache: after yoga.
I care: how the story ends.
I always: am changing.
I am not: a reader of fiction.
I believe: Jesus showed us a better way to live.
I dance: in my apartment to loud music.
I sing: in the shower.
I cry: spontaneously, sometimes.
I fight: sometimes.
I write: less often than I would like.
I win: less games in Scrabulous than I would like.
I lose: to my mom, usually.
I never: know where the road will lead.
I confuse: my cat when I come home in the middle of the day.
I listen: to music most of the day.
I can usually be found: via email within 3 hours.
I am scared: of high open spaces.
I need: to be still.
I am happy about: the opportunity to see my family in a couple of weeks.
I hope: this post isn't too obtuse or boring.

I tag: all of the bloggers who read this,

Monday, April 28, 2008

the unpleasant phenomenon of being "cut-out."

been thinking about this today....

Monica: Oh, what are we gonna do! I don't wanna see her!!

Phoebe: Ugh, Let's just cut her out!

Monica: What?

Phoebe: Cut her out of our lives! Just ignore her calls and dodge her 'till she gets the point!

Monica: Oh, I guess we could try that, but... it seems so harsh! (to Chandler) Have you ever done that?

Chandler: No, had it done to me though. Feels good !

in praise of the BBC

I get my news from many sources each day, one of which is the BBC. There are a lot of things I like about the BBC, including the one minute news option (one minute! do you not have one minute per day to catch up on world news?) go to the news page and click on (what else?) one minute news. I also like the day in pictures feature. One of my favorite features, however, is the special reports. Whenever I feel a little behind on an important news story, I check to see if there is a special report. Usually there is and it will include a Q&A, pictures, and all relevant news stories on that topic. For example, I've been blogging a little bit about the current food price crisis and how it has affected me. If you feel a little behind, check out the BBC's Special Report On World Food Prices to read relevant news stories, and see charts and pictures. Enjoy.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Horatio Spafford

Today was hymn Sunday at my church. We sang more hymns than usual, and we talked about some of the stories of the hymn writers. It was a special Sunday for me because I love hymns. Some of my favorites are: My Jesus I Love Thee, All Creatures of Our God and King, It is Well With My Soul, Crown Him With Many Crowns, Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence, O Sacred Head Now Wounded, Take My Life, Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus and O For A Thousand Tongues to Sing. (There are more, but those are a few of my favorites...)

I was reminded today of the remarkable story of Horatio Spafford. Many who read this blog have, no doubt, heard his story, but for those who haven't (and even as a reminder for those who have) here's a reminder of the two tragedies that led to his writing of the hymn. (from wikipedia)

First tragedy: The Great Chicago Fire

On October 8 1871, as Horatio and his wife Anna were grieving over the death of their son, the Great Chicago Fire swept through the city. Horatio was a prominent lawyer in Chicago and had invested heavily in the city's real estate, and the fire destroyed almost everything he owned.

Second tragedy: The wreck of the Ville Du Havre

Two years later, in 1873, Spafford decided his family should take a holiday somewhere in Europe and chose England knowing that his friend D.L. Moody would be preaching there in the fall. Delayed because of business, he sent ahead of him his family: his wife Anna, and his four remaining children, daughters Tanetta, Maggie, Annie and Bessie.

On November 21, 1873 while crossing the Atlantic on the S.S. Ville Du Havre , their ship was struck by an iron sailing vessel and two hundred and twenty six people lost their lives, including all four of Spafford's daughters. Somehow his wife, Anna, survived. On arriving in England, she sent a telegram to Spafford beginning "Saved alone."

Spafford then himself took a ship to England, going past the place where his daughters had died. According to Bertha Spafford, a daughter born after the tragedy, the hymn was written in mid-Atlantic.

The first verse is so powerful when you know the story.
Spafford writes:

When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say,
It is well, it is well with my soul.

When I reflect on the fact that Mr. Spafford wrote those words as he stared into the very same waves that claimed the lives of his four precious daughters, I am so moved. We do well to learn the history of the hymns we love.

I know many, though certainly not all of the people who read this blog are hymn lovers. Tell me, what are your favorites? Post them in the comments!

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Colombian Children's Song...

I have many favorite Colombian children's songs, but Sol Solecito is my favorite as of late. I'm putting the video up because it's so sweet and happy (and hilarious when Pinocchio busts out his percussion playing. Just wait!) I'm not sure if it's sung in other Spanish-speaking countries, but it's definitely sung in Colombia. Here's my translation, although it (obviously) is a lot cooler and fun in Spanish because it rhymes. (You can get that if you play the video.) It's pretty impossible to watch this video and not smile. If you do, your heart could (possibly) be made of stone. Notice my superfluous use of exclamation points in the translation. I think they are appropriate.

Here it is "Sol Solecito" (Sun, Little Sun)

Sun, little sun, warm me a little today, tomorrow and the whole week! Moon, little jingle-bell moon! Five chicks and a calf! Snail! Snail! At one o’clock the sun comes out! Here comes Pinocchio playing the drums with a spoon and a fork!

thinking about this quote today...

My dear friend Marie who maintains a blog that is far more interesting, witty, and well written than this one (subscribe immediately!) pointed me to this quote awhile ago. For some reason, I've found myself thinking about it today.

"The truth is a river where the strong can swim down deep and the weak and the broken can walk across so easily." -Caedmon's Call

Friday, April 25, 2008


if i ever have a kid, he or she might be subjected to posters of fontbots because their mama is such a font geek.

via bad banana blog

cool idea

for a virtual wall as a traffic light of the future.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

wouldn't it seem logical

that MICROSOFT Vista would be able to recognize a MICROSOFT life-cam without making me install drivers and dance a jig and sing a song and read it poetry? My favorite part of the process -- when MICROSOFT Vista told me that it couldn't recognize what type of camera I have. I got an error message that said "If you know the manufacturer of your device, visit the website." Yes, computer, I do know the manufacturer of my device, in fact YOU manufactured it, yes, YOU did, Microsoft. Billy, Billy, Billy Gates. It's a good thing I like the fact that you give lots of cash away. Sigh.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

world hunger crisis, and a nagging sense from God.

There is a perception, I think, that pastors are people who know God better than other people. I think this is a dangerous perception to have for two reasons, 1. being a pastor is a vocation, and certainly pastors have felt God's presence in our lives as we have sought ordained ministry, but that doesn't mean we don't have to work to stay close to God. We have to pray on our own, we have to struggle and wrestle with questions about faith and theology, we have to weep and wonder. 2. People who are pastors should never feel that they are somehow unable to attain a closeness to God that only "pastors" can achieve. That's not true.

Having said that, I want to talk a bit about how strongly I have felt God speaking to me this week and I am wrestling with God is calling me to do about it. In order to explain, I have to go back a little bit... In seminary my friend Nick, a dear soul, one of my best friends on earth, once prayed over our lunch with this simple prayer, "Lord we thank you for this food, and as we prepare to eat it we are mindful of those who are without food today and we ask that you would provide for them in your mercy, Amen." (Sorry, Nick, if I misquoted it, but that is almost exactly what you said, I'm fairly certain.) I never forgot that prayer, because it touched me so much. How appropriate it is to pray for the hungry before we ourselves eat. It humbles us, reminds us not to take things for granted. Since I heard that prayer, I have begun to pray it on my own before I eat a meal. I don't pray before every meal I eat, but when I do, I almost always pray for those who are without food, that God would provide for them.

Over the past week or so, as I have been reading and studying the worldwide food crisis, I have found myself praying for the hungry in our world a lot. It has been there, in the back of my mind, all the time. It's very weird, and I don't know what God is saying to me. Is God calling me to pray, night and day, for the hungry? Is God calling me to write prayers about hunger for other pastors to use? To do more research? I'm not sure, but I know that for now, I will continue to pray for the hungry in our world. More on this later....

For now, read this article in the NYT... it's amazing, and heartbreaking.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Religious Literacy

In about an hour I will facilitate a discussion on the book Religious Literacy: What Every American Should Know -- And Doesn't by religious studies professor Stephen Prothero. The book's thesis is simple: US Americans are fairly ignorant when it comes to religion. We lack a basic knowledge of the world's religions, even though we are fairly "religious" as a nation. Prothero explores this paradox and then provides a detailed glossary of religious terms every US American should know. I highly recommend this book. If you are a JAPC member and want to join the study, you are more than welcome to join. Email me for dates and times.

Sunday, April 20, 2008


As most people who read this blog already know, I am passionate about the eradication of torture worldwide. As most of the people who read this blog should know, the United States' record on torture is abhorrent. Not only does the US personally torture prisoners of war (most famously made public through the Abu Ghraib scandal in Iraq), we are also infamous for sending prisoners to other countries to be tortured as well as for training foreign military intelligence to use torture.

About a week and a half ago, we learned (officially) what we have been saying for years now, that "harsh interrogation techniques" used on Al-Qaeda suspects were authorized by the highest government officials of our nation. Cheney, Rice, Rumsfeld, Powell, Tenet, Ashcroft -- all of them, gathered in high level meetings to discuss the grim details of torture, including waterboarding. (Note: "harsh interrogation techniques" is usually code for torture, as understood by the Geneva Conventions.)

Though I am frustrated it hasn't received more coverage by them, The New York Times published an OpEd piece about it today. There's so much I could say about this, but for now, I will just remind you of one thing: torture does not work as a means of gathering information. Though it seems cool on shows like "24" it is simply not true that reliable information can be obtained from suspects through torture. No one doubts that torture produces information. Of course it does. Wouldn't you say something if you were being tortured? The problem with torture (the fact that it is immoral and cruel notwithstanding) is that it doesn't work. There are many articles/resources I could point you to on this point, this one is a good place to start if you are a "scholarly" type person. If not, just google "ticking time bomb and torture" and read what people on both sides have to say. I have no doubt that the argument for torture in this circumstance will sound silly to your ears, as it does to mine.

t-shirt rug

i really like this t-shirt rug

found it on instructables via boingboing

Friday, April 18, 2008

On Housing the Homeless 2

Well... here it is 1:30 am on Saturday and the week of housing the homeless at church is nearly over. After breakfast, our guests will pack up their belongings and head on to another church in Detroit for another week. The program is a rotating model where the guests travel from church to church each week. The week has taught me a lot about how to coordinate a program like this, how to pace myself, how to encourage volunteers, how to be patient... all in all, it was a wonderful experience, a great week. One of the highlights of this week for me happened this evening when we took a small church "tour" of the sanctuary, chapel and church parlor. Throughout the week the guests had been asking to see the rest of the church, and so the Sr. pastor graciously agreed to talk about some of the features of the sanctuary and other rooms. All of the guests were amazed at every tiny detail of the sanctuary. They asked thought provoking questions about the symbols, and the differences between different faiths. One man, when we walked into the beautifully decorated parlor exclaimed "Wooooo---eee! This room is downright BEAUTIFUL!" I was touched by his enthusiasm, and it reminded me of the beauty of the church I work in, and how being around it all the time might cause me to take it for granted. 


it's been a long week. i've treated myself in a couple of ways for making it through. first, i bought myself a big ole espresso frappuccino from starbucks. secondly, tomorrow i am going to see the movie 21. i'm suuuuuuper excited about this movie. i haven't been as excited about a movie in a long time. 

nice article on pastoral identity...

If I were ever to work on a PhD that is related to ministry, I would want it to be on the subject of pastoral identity. Here is a nice article from the PC(USA) website: 

this one made me laugh...

painfully polite and hilariously hostile writings from shared spaces the world over 

Thursday, April 17, 2008

i know i'm a nerd, but

i really want to go here, someday. it's only 4 hours from detroit. i will have to make it happen, somehow.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

On Housing the Homeless...

This week is an unusual one for me. Whereas I usually spend a good portion of my work day in my office at church and don't usually stay in the building past 9:30 or 10:00 p.m. (And that's only if I have a meeting), this week I am virtually living at church, with th exception of a few hours in the late morning and early afternoon when I go home to sleep. This is because my church is housing homeless people for a week, and I am in charge of staffing this project. The homeless people arrive at 5:30 or so each day, we have dinner, activities (movies, bingo, card games, etc.) lights out at 11 (for them). In the morning we serve breakfast and hand out a bag lunch. A bus comes to pick up our guests at about 7:30 a.m. and then they are off to Downtown Detroit where they work, look for work, or stay in a day shelter to return again at 5:30 p.m.

For me, the housing the homeless week has been very enjoyable work, both in the preparation of the previous few weeks and then this week itself. I have enjoyed working with the other churches that we have bought in to help with dinners. I have had fun coordinating the making of lunches, the preparing of snacks, the planning of activities, the collection of toilietry kits, the staying up most of the night. This week has reminded me why I became a pastor: I love to serve God's people, and (even more) I love to help others serve God's people. There is one thing, however, that worried me about participating in this week from the very beginning, and that is how the experience would affect me emotionally. Since I was a little girl, the idea that some people do not have homes to sleep in at night has affected me deeply. Even though I have since "grown up" and learned that "that's the way life is," I was still a little nervous that I would be so saddened by the stories of the people and the reality of homelessness in our country that I would be deeply, deeply troubled all week. This has happened to me before. Soon after I moved to Detroit, I ran into a homeless woman who was having a migraine headache. Since I get migraines, I know how awful they can be. I couldn't imagine suffering one on the street. She asked me for Excederine and grapes. I was very upset over her story for at least a week. I still think of her when I eat grapes.To try and guard against becoming too overwhelmed with the reality of homelessness, my plan was to be friendly and welcoming to the guests, but intentionally stay away from asking to much about their individual situations and inviting conversation about their specific needs and stories. My plan hasn't worked.

One by one this week many of the guests have stopped me in the halls as I have been scooting from the kitchen to the dining room caring for food and entertainment needs. "Pastor, can I talk to you for a few minutes?" or "Pastor, can I see you?" Though I tried to steer clear of such conversations I haven't resented these requests at all. In fact, I have been honored that the guests feel I am someone to be trusted. For the most part, the guests just want someone to hear them out, to listen. (Don't we all?) The surprise for me in all of the conversations this week has been how much hope they have shared with me. Whereas I was expecting to feel overwhelmed about homelessness and distrought over its harshness, I have been ministered to by the people I am alleging to serve in unbelievable ways. (How often this happens in life...) A man from the country of Georgia who knows more about early Christian Church history than I do told me all about Saint Nina, and how she brought Christianity to his home country. "You see," he said "Women like you have been doing important work for Christ for a very long time." He also told me about why he is proud to be a Detroiter, how this city is the first city in the world to have a traffic light and a paved road, that we have the second oldest Opera house in the country. "Don't forget," he said "This is not a dead city." Another man made me laugh when I was talking to him about movies. The group has watched a lot of movies and went through the 8 or so we had in the first couple of days. When I told him I would work on finding some more, he responded by saying "Reverend, you're so sweet." and then he paused and said "Excuse me. I don't mean sweet. I mean, you are a very spiritual woman of God!" I told him that calling me "sweet" wasn't a problem for me. In fact, it was quite a high compliment. I have been touched by our guests' concern for one another, how they have sought to protect one another. Though I am not able to honor requests for clothes, shoes, and medicine, many of the requests I have received for those things have come from one guest about another.

I have, of course, been disheartened by some of the stories. People have been telling me about personal tragedies in their lives so painful they don't want to go into details, they have shared how they are overwhelmed by life in the shelter, and the lack of privacy. There is an elderly man with diabetes who often smells of urine who can't get up from his mat, who spends almost the entire time he is here from 5 pm on curled up in a fetal position on his mat. It's not all rosy. There are still questions and heartbreaks. Yet, amazingly, through the grace of God, I have been blessed this week by a group of people who have recognized my call to ministry and have told me every day how blessed they are to know me. I am truly humbled.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008


There is a story in the April 21st issue of the New Yorker about elevators which you can read here. The story features a man named Nicholas White who was trapped in an elevator for 41 hours. The New Yorker has posted the video of the man's 41 hours in the elevator, time-lapsed so that the video takes three minutes and ten seconds. As the New Yorker article explains, these 41 hours changed Nicholas White's life forever.

I will warn you that it is difficult to watch. (The embedded YouTube video that follows is the same as the linked one above. I found the YouTube version loaded easier and was smoother than the New Yorker version.)

Dave Barry on how to turn your taxes in to manure.

Find it here. I love the part about his "accounting system." I totally relate.

Laughter: a better option than crawling up in a fetal position and weeping

To those of you who, like me, are sending in large checks to the government today, I give you a little tax humor.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

the ones we love

The Ones We Love is a project highlighting young and talented photographers from around the world. Each artist contributed six photographs of the person(s) who is most important to them, taken outdoors in a natural setting. The goal of the website is to portray the people who are loved, cherished, and inspirational to these artists, and also showcase the differences and similarities in the photographs each of them took within the same guidelines.


i scored an abysmal 17 out of 34 on this rather difficult font game. will try again. via i love typography.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

More Cowbell! (and 49 others)

Check out the fifty greatest comedy sketches of all time. (video is included on many of them.) I've seen this on many blogs in the last few days. Most recently at kottke.


Oh, Alberto, pobrecito. No one wants to hire you. If you are a little behind the 8 ball, read this book, and you will know why.

Breakfast by Jon Huck

I love this project. It is a compilation of people and what they ate for breakfast. Whimsical... telling... sweet.

Choosing to Celebrate Death

My friend Stephen wrote a fantastic article about celebrating death, that was recently published in Relevant Magazine. Catch it here.