7 Quick Takes: Choosing to Find Joy Edition

7 Quick Takes

— 1 —

Prayer request. My friend Bekah had her son Declan at 28 weeks due to preeclampsia. She and Declan are doing OK, but Mr. D is going to be in the NICU for a bit. Prayers would be appreciated.

Please and thank you! 😀

— 2 —

So I was thinking… I was looking over some entries from 13 years ago, and I used to be a more whiny and negative person than I am today. Granted, there was a lot that wasn’t going well at the time, but a lot of stuff used to derail my day pretty easily. This changed a lot with my pregnancy with Daniel.

— 3 —

Sickness. It was hard a lot of the time. I didn’t know when I got pneumonia in October 2008 that I was pregnant at the time, and that definitely would have changed the treatment I sought for it. Thankfully, none of what I took hurt Daniel that we know of. I also got some pretty serious colds, and I was very much limited in what I could take.

— 4 —

Something about Mary. I started thinking about the Virgin Mary that December when it was -20F for weeks at a time, and I would be driving into work with gloves on with socks over them, trying to keep my hands warm and to keep them from aching. It struck me one day how hard her last few months of pregnancy must have been, especially the journey to Bethlehem.

— 5 —

Daniel’s birth. The traumatic experience of Daniel’s birth and the shock it gave me in so many ways changed how I approached each day. That first week, I was so shell-shocked that it seemed like things were getting worse by the day, but my little creature held on. Despite everything getting thrown at him, he was able to persevere through. One of the nurses told me to start finding those little joys in each day because we were in for a marathon with him. Her advice proved helpful as it gave me something on which I could focus to hold onto hope that he would eventually make it home, given that it took a month before I could even form the words to pray, and I had to work through A LOT of anger.

— 6 —

10 years later… I have held onto that practice of seeking out the joy in every day, even when we went through Daniel’s epic hospitalization 8 1/2 years ago, and that joy was sometimes that he didn’t die that day. It has stayed with me through more hospitalizations, Daniel’s autism diagnosis, the end of my marriage, and the divorce process that took two years. Even on the worst days, I choose to seek out some small joy in something. I don’t know that I would have survived if I could not do this.

— 7 —

New music. I heard this song last night and thought I’d share.

For more Quick Takes, visit Kelly at This Ain’t The Lyceum.

7 Quick Takes: 17 Years of Blogging!

7 Quick Takes

July 19th was my 17th blogiversary and it passed quietly because of school and things in my personal life. As a way of ignoring the crappy health news I got today, here are are some ways my life has changed since I started blogging on July 19, 2000.

— 1 —

I’ve come full-circle in terms of relationships. When I started this blog, I was dating Jon. Then we went through our long engagement, marriage, a short separation, and now divorce. It’s a painful realization in a lot of ways but it also provides me with a record of the good times that I can look back upon eventually.

— 2 —

I have lived in five states. I had spent my life in California and was living with my parents over the summer before my senior year of college. Since then, I have lived in: Ohio, Minnesota, Montana, California (again), and now Washington. I’m glad to have had these experiences in seeing how people across the country live.

— 3 —

I am no longer vegetarian. I added meat back into my diet in December 2000 and while I don’t eat a lot of it, I have not given it up again except for Lenten purposes.

— 4 —

I have stopped coding largely by hand. For the first year, I coded by hand and then went to Livejournal, two iterations of Greymatter, Movable Type, back to Greymatter, b2, and then WordPress 12ish years ago. It’s good to know how to do some of it still so I can fix sidebars but I’d have to learn PHP to be able to create my own themes.

— 5 —

I’m Episcopalian again. At the time I started blogging, I was attending my Episcopal church at home and then attending an evangelical church at school. Eventually, I attended an LCMS church, went ELCA for 10 years, AALC for three years, and then became Episcopalian again.

— 6 —

I have 1.5 degrees and am getting another one. I graduated with my B.A. 11 months after starting the blog, worked on an MTS, and am now doing an ATA.

— 7 —

I’m missing a body part or two. I gave up my gallbladder in 2005 and there is less liver than there was originally due to scar tissue from the gallbladder issues.

For more Quick Takes, visit Kelly at This Ain’t The Lyceum.

31 Days of Gluten-Free Life: In Back of the Bread

31 Days of Gluten-Free Life

When I went to Girl Scout camp as a camper, CIT, and then counselor, there was a grace we used to sing:

In back of the bread is the flour.
In back of the flour is the mill.
In back of the mill is the wind and the rain
And the Father’s will.

There’s even a YouTube video of it:

Anyway, I’ve been thinking about Jon’s parishioners in Montana who were wheat and barley farmers. With all the crap going around the Internet about the dangers of eating wheat and how gluten-free life is superior, I think about them because the way I’m eating at the moment would mean the loss of livelihood if people gave up eating wheat on a larger scale. It’s why I haven’t read all the Wheatbelly stuff which smacks of new-agey Oprahesque science — cutting carbs is all well and good but there are people who raise organic wheat out there (I know many of them!) and aren’t dousing their field with pesticides. The Wheatbelly craze has the potential to affect them negatively and I’m not chill with that.

And again, I find the Wheatbelly stuff to be good medicine inasmuch as the quack Dr. Oz is good medicine, which is to say. NOT AT ALL.

Answer Me This: 4th of July Edition

Answer Me This

Once you’re done here, go see Kendra and the other lovelies that have answered the questions!

1. How did you celebrate the 4th of July?

My in-laws had some neighbors over for lunch in our lovely air-conditioned living room. Lots of food and lots of fabulous conversation. Later, we went to go see Jon and Daniel march in the Claremont Fourth of July Parade. (Anyone that wants to can march in it so you end up with some pretty interesting groups… including the local Buddhist monastery. It’s also a *VERY* heavily Democratic town so the local Democratic royalty get convertibles.) That night after Daniel and Jon fell asleep, we sat out on the cul-de-sac and watched the firework display from one of the local high schools.

2. Do you sunburn easily?

Oh yes. It’s pretty normal for me to turn into a tomato with hair if I’m out for a long period during the summer. Thankfully, my daily moisturizer has SPF 15 sunscreen in it which helps keep me from burning too badly while I’m out doing errands.

3. Hot dogs. Yay or nay?

Yay! If I want them, I have to cook them myself and as my George Forman grill is in storage, I don’t have them all that often these days.

4. Have you ever personally set off fireworks?

Yep, we got them from out-of-state a couple times growing up and then, I lived in places where they weren’t illegal… though they probably should have been in Montana considering how fire-prone the prairie was! Nine years ago, we and the other people in town were sitting on a parishioner’s porch (because this was a town of 12 people); and while they were setting them off, they set off some old ones that didn’t get enough height before exploding. Lo didst sparks come raining down from the sky and people start scrambling for cover!

I think the last time people set them off where I was physically present was in Jon’s last parish when the drug users living across the street decided to launch them at our tree. They got a bit pissy when I called 911 about it.

5. Have you ever jumped off the high dive?

Yeah, no. Serious fear of heights here.

6. Do you do anything weird in your sleep?

I talk in my sleep and I’m pretty sure one of my college roommate and I had some interesting conversations some nights when we were both asleep and talking to each other.

7 Quick Takes: Surviving As A Pastor’s Wife

7 Quick Takes

I’m sitting in Jiffy Lube right now getting my oil changed and so I thought I’d write a somewhat serious list this week.

Every so often, talk of Pope Francis allowing married clergy crops up and people talk about how they have *NO* idea how it could work. (Hint: instead of the Baptist/evangelical churches, look to the Orthodox churches, the Episopalians, the Lutherans, and the Eastern Catholic churches as a model.) For those who are wondering about all of this and are concerned for the sake of how things would be for the priest’s wife, here is my list of things that help me survive when Jon is pastoring a parish.

— 1 —

A cell phone number that is a state secret. After getting a couple “emergency” calls on my cell phone by people looking for Jon that turned out to be questions that could have waited or that took me 2 seconds to answer, I made the decision that my cell phone number would not be given out to anyone that did not desperately need it. Those who watched my cats got it as did the church council presidents but nobody else.

Another benefit: I kept texting off my cell phone plan until a year or so ago and this ended up actually being beneficial to me in Jon’s last parish. We had a ladies event and someone came in late. They started chewing me out for not texting them and I told them very sweetly that I hadn’t texted anyone because my cell phone plan didn’t include it. (Said person had been copied on an email about the event as well as me calling them to see if they were coming.)

— 2 —

Friends outside of the parish. There have truly been wonderful people in every parish Jon has served but I have found the need to keep some part of my life separate. As a rule, I do not friend people on Facebook until I am out of that particular parish, nobody Jon has pastored gets access to my Twitter EVER, and there is a definite limit to what I discuss with parishioners. This is why I have friends like Rebecca (who has known me for 20+ years, was my maid of honor, and is one of Daniel’s godmothers), Kym, Dayna, Crystal, my Cathso chicas, and a few other friends who have absolutely no connection to the parish but whom I trust enough to talk about things that are going on in my life.

Another part of that: I thankfully can read people well enough to know who is trustworthy. In the case of one particular person, I knew within 5 minutes of meeting them that whatever I told them would be known countywide before too long. It’s why I laugh when I hear people use the argument of the husband telling the wife the secrets of the confessional as an argument against married clergy in the Catholic church — Jon doesn’t tell me anything! Fellow parishioners, however, have tried to tell me who has a drinking problem, whose marriages are on the rocks, and a lot of things that I usually tell them I don’t want to know.

— 3 —

My own faith. One thing that all of my successful clergy spouse friends have is an understanding of what they believe and what works for them spiritually. As faithfully as I can attend church, Jon is not responsible for my spiritual life and each parish would become a cult if I made them solely responsible for it as well. My devotional practices fluctuate from time to time depending on what is going on in my life but the fact that I do spend some time reading the Bible and praying each day has enabled me to keep my faith during some pretty dicey times in parish ministry.

— 4 —

A place where I can escape. In Minnesota, we did errands in Watertown once every week or so and it was a chance to get away from our small town for a couple hours. In Montana, we went to Great Falls at least monthly for Walmart runs (back when I actually had to shop there) and also because I had family there. When things got hard in the parish, I also had a couple churches I could attend if I was willing to get up early and drive two hours south. In Jon’s last parish, I’d head to Elk Grove (the next town north of us) for a couple hours or I’d head to my parents’ house two hours away.

My best escape was my full-time job in Montana. My commute was 60 miles each way and it gave me a break from the parsonage, the churches, and the community. I found that it seriously helped me to deal with some difficult people if I could get a break from them and I thankfully had a boss who was more than happy to help me enforce those boundaries by letting me transfer parishioner phone calls to her so she could explain to the caller that it was highly inappropriate to expect me to conduct parish business on company time.

— 5 —

A sense of adventure and an inquisitive side. When God has called us to go to the ends of the earth to spread the Gospel, it generally ends up being rural and a farming community. I used to joke in Montana that we hadn’t gotten called to the ends of the earth but you could probably see them from there. A town of 12 people where we would have to drive 25 miles for groceries, banking, and medical care? Sign me up! A church in the middle of nowhere next to a Hutterite colony on a gravel road? Bring it! A church out in the corn fields 12 miles from town? I’ll do it! I actually had better Internet in my town of 12 people in Montana than my in-laws did in Los Angeles. The only reason we can’t take calls like that anymore is that Daniel needs pretty specialized services and medical care which unfortunately require access to a major medical center and/or proximity to various groups that provide speech, physical, occupational, and behavioral therapy.

Another part of this is that I am always wanting to know more about how things work and I’m not afraid to ask questions about what various parishioners do. I used to sit at the local co-op on Saturday mornings in Montana and talk with farmers about their crop yields and their cattle while getting my oil changed. My farm wives in both Minnesota and Montana taught me quite a bit about how to buy beef, how to can just about anything, and how to quilt. In exchange, I’d teach them how to use their computers. 🙂 I still look back on some of those conversations with fondness.

— 6 —

A sense of humor and the ability to laugh at the absurd. One of my favorite authors is Phillip Gulley and his books in which he writes about a fictitious Quaker minister in a small town are a pretty funny look at life in a clergy family. In one of them, the church council is discussing the minister’s benefits package and various people are making remarks like the minister and his family not needing health insurance because they can pray for healing. (I hate to say that I’ve sat in on similar meetings with similar remarks made.) In another, there’s a Quaker militia to guard the various parts of the live manger scene from the ACLU. That sounds utterly bizarre but after 12 1/2 years of being a vicar/pastor’s wife, I’ve seen weirder things happen.

— 7 —

A therapist and the Boundaries book by Cloud and Townsend. Living in a fishbowl when you suffer from anxiety and depression is really hard. In both Minnesota and Montana, I took advantage of therapists to get some of the really toxic stuff out of my mind, especially when dealing with difficult people and when I was fighting PTSD/PPD after Daniel’s traumatic birth.

The book that I think I found most useful across the board was the Boundaries book by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend. It was helpful to know how to separate what was mine to handle and what belonged to other people but was being tossed onto me. I still use every one of the lessons of that book in my daily life even though Jon is not in full-time ministry.

For more Quick Takes, visit Kelly at This Ain’t The Lyceum.

#5Faves: Easter Hymns

#5Faves

Because I’m all about that bass all about the hymns!

One

“Thine Is The Glory”. This one is in the Lutheran Book of Worship (and most other Lutheran hymnals) but not in the 1982 Hymnal for the Episcopal church. I was kvetching to my choir director about this and his response: “You could always become Lutheran again.” (I stuck my tongue out at him in response.) This one is especially lovely if you have brass in church.

Two

“Now the Green Blade Riseth”. The tune for this hymn is “Noel Nouvelet” and is in a minor key so there are some of my husband’s parishioners that have hated it and asked that it not be sung or only sung once during Easter. The reason this is funny is that one of our parishioners in Minnesota managed to set “Jingle Bells” to it at Christmas dinner in 2004 when we were jamming afterwards; and when we were singing this at the installation of Bishop Jessica Crist in Montana in 2007, I leaned forward to Jon who was seated in the row in front of me (with all the clergy) and whispered, “Jingle Bells”. He started giggling and our seminary president (who is the former bishop of Montana) rolled his eyes at us.

Three

“Alleluia, Alleluia! Give Thanks to the Risen Lord”. I shared this one in my Simple Woman’s Daybook on Monday. I remember it from my first Easter at ECA in 1997 and I have loved it since, though I don’t think I had sung it in at least 10 years before Sunday. (It’s not in the Lutheran Book of Worship and I doubt it’s in the new cranberry-colored hymnal which I despise.)

Four

“Alleuia, Sing to Jesus”. This is used more as an Ascension hymn but our Offertory anthem this year was an arrangement of it. I’m also a hymn tune snob and I have an abiding love of the tune Hyfrydol.

Five

“Christ the Lord is Risen Today”. This is song that most Protestants associate with Easter, at least those that attend churches with traditional hymnody. It was also one of the first hymns I learned.

Go love up Jenna and the others.

7 Quick Takes: Laptop Update, Folk Music, and 49’ers Fan Schtuff

7 Quick Takes

— 1 —

My friend Tim. So how many of you saw the viral video in which a pastor who was a 49’ers fan did an “abbreviated service” this past Sunday? Yeah, he is actually a former colleague of ours from our days in Montana and he is a heckuva guy. He and his wife hosted us several times when we were splitting our time between Great Falls and home when Daniel was in the NICU as well as visiting me in the hospital. He is a native northern Californian who was transplanted to Montana for ministry and is a rabid fan of all the Bay Area sports teams, especially the Giants. (I swear… I can hear him watching the game all the way from Montana when they play.) I miss him, his wife Sandy, and their son John very much.

And yes, he *did* go back and do a REAL worship service after this was filmed.

— 2 —

OMG NCIS!!!!! I got seriously verklempt at the end of NCIS this week. Why? It wasn’t because Delilah was paralyzed after her accident. It was the scene where McGee calls Gibbs down to the hospital and asks if he can sit with him. Gibbs comes down and goes and sits with Tim as a way to lend him some support. I remember the people who came to be with me in the hospital when I’ve had surgery or when Daniel has been in the NICU/PICU/peds ward. They didn’t have to say beautiful words of wisdom or advice — all I really needed was for them to sit with me and hold my hand. It is really hard to communicate just how much their presence meant to me even if they just sat there quietly with me.

— 3 —

Speaking of the 49’ers… We have a bit of a family war going on at the moment because my extended family is mostly in western Washington and of course, I’m down here in northern California. I predict amusing status updates this weekend. I feel sorry (but not all that much) for my evil twin — his wife is a Green Bay fan, his cat is a Panthers fan, and he lives in Seahawk territory. He commented that it’s impossible to watch football right now without pissing anyone off.

— 4 —

The Boxer. I think I’ve posted this before but it’s a video of Allison Krauss and Shawn Colvin doing a cover of “The Boxer” from a concert honoring Paul Simon. It’s one of my favorite Simon & Garfunkel songs and it’s nice to have a recording that I can sing along with in my specific register. (Not that I was doing this at 2 a.m. or anything…)

— 5 —

Also a fan of this one… This is “You Ain’t Going Nowhere” from a Bob Dylan tribute concert 20 years ago. There are others I like from this particular concert (Tracy Chapman singing “The Times They Are A-Changin'” for example) but this particular one fit with the Shawn Colvin theme of the last Quick Take.

Aw heck… here’s Tracy. I love her performance because she doesn’t embellish anything in the song and her bluesy voice just fits perfectly.

— 6 —

Last video, I promise. I’m listening to Simon and Garfunkel as I blog this.

— 7 —

Orphans. Do you see these darling children?

L-R: Brett and Iris
BrettIris

Brett still needs a mama. Iris finally has a family committed to her and their dossier has been submitted to her country.

— Bonus —

Update on the laptop. I received the hard drive from my old laptop in the mail on Tuesday. I was WTFing until my mom pointed out that this was not a bad thing in case my backup on my external hard drive is messed up. I got ahold of my case manager at HP yesterday and he told me that the ETA for the build of my new laptop is January 24th and he’s getting it shipped to me 2nd Day Air so I’ll get it on the 26th. *sigh* It means sharing a Macbook with Jon for another week or so but I’m getting a new laptop out of it so I shouldn’t complain… too much. #stillwhining #firstworldproblems

Pray for Jon. I’m not the easiest person to live with when I’m going through laptop withdrawal symptoms.

For more Quick Takes, visit Jen at ConversionDiary.Com.