Thursday, June 10, 2010

Assignment #2: Sentence series

6 years ago my Introduction to Bible professor, Warren, gave me new eyes to see, new ears to hear, and new pages to touch, and new words to read. For 6 long years I have waited to read Solomon’s words of Wisdom; I have waited to hear my name called at the city gates; I have waited to breathe in new breaths of life that I now know will sustain me in the desert and nourish me in the wilderness of life.

Sure, I’ve heard Wisdom cry from the city gates: I was with God in the beginning, helping with creation, and was his daily delight; my words may seem crooked but they are straight; take my words of instruction rather than silver and take my knowledge rather than gold; those who seek will find me; whoever finds me finds life.

I know that words like hers echo and reverberate through the good news of the gospel. In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. I speak in parables, so that looking they may not perceive and listening they may not understand. Knock and the door will open unto you. Those who seek will find. Whoever saves their life will lose it, whoever loses their life for me will find it.

For 6 long years I have flirted faithfully but never explored enthusiastically, dived deeply, nor thoroughly thrust myself into Wisdom’s world.

6 long years after Warren first opened my eyes, cleaned out my ears, removed my gloves, and invited me to take a different look. For the first time, I opened the Wisdom of Solomon. For the first time in a long time, I cheered the words on the page. Finally, at last, I loosened the locks of Scripture and flew from the cage of Cannon.

Assignment 1: balanced sentences (I tried)

For 42 weeks she nested in the safe darkness of my womb but on her third day in the scary sunshine world time stopped and spun forward all at once. He walked upstairs to find her swaddled in my arms while I weeping had been stripped to my core. She safely sleeping, I nervously nearing a breakdown.

Time stopped while my life raced forward. I could see her clearly—she was walking, going to her first day of kindergarten, 3rd grade, junior high, and then walking in her cap and gown, all the while we stood still, unchanged except for some extra pounds and a few gray hairs. Her life had just begun, but I could see my life with her would end. I had already lost her to the future.

In 42 weeks she grew from a dot of a zygote to the writhing crying waking creature in my arms, exponentially growing in size and form, never stopping except on that 3rd day of the world outside my womb.

After hearing his laughter at this time stopping—time spinning nonsense the spell was broken for nearly 15 years. During those 15 years time slowed to a crawl some days while some others zoomed at light speed but it never stopped and spun simultaneously until last month. It happened again as the girl morphed from ponytails and blue jeans into bouncy curls and flowery dress. Her footsteps echoed the steps she’ll take in just 4 more years—time stopped and spun all at once but this time there were no tears to strip me to my core. This time, the clock has not ticked and tocked, it has continued to stop and spin all at once.

August 18 is when the clock is slated to start again, that is the day when days and nights will merge into one, speeding the next 4 years into one short day in which her high heels will click and clack down the aisle and into the open and adventurous world that doesn’t move nearly fast enough for her.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

PoP: Day 2

I am getting my butt kicked! There are some amazingly gifted writers and thinkers in our group. I had no idea how much I did not know about writing!

Our first day one of the directors told us there were 3 things they assumed and/or wanted us to know:

1. We are all good writers--we could not have graduated from seminary without being able to string sentences together and be clear.

2. This is NOT a competition.

3. We are all in differing places with our writing abilities and we all have improvements to make and stuff to learn.

I've been chanting those three things to myself today. I am quite humbled by the writers that are here with me. Please do not chide me about self-esteem and the like--it's not about that. I've thought of myself as a writer most of my life. I've loved writing for a very long time. I would even say I'm a good writer.

I thought I knew and understood the basics of writing. How hard could it be? I've been writing complete sentences (off and on) since 1st grade, perhaps even Kindergarten. I had no idea about the many keys of the craft. OMG! I am in awe of what I don't know!

My first assigment was an epic failure. We were supposed to write an essay on whatever we chose but every sentence was supposed to be a "balanced sentence." A balanced sentence might be one that has parallel independent or dependent clauses (there is more than one way to balance your sentences--I think, I'm still working on understanding completely). Before we left to write our essays Mary told us that it's helpful to be writing about things/situations/idea that are an either/or situation.

My brain simply does not work in either/or. My essay barely contained one or two balanced sentences! It truly was an epic fail. Our assignment for tonight is to write an essay that is composed of series.

I'll be honest, school has always been easy for me. I've been able to BS my way through high school, college, and yes, seminary. It's done no favors for me. I don't think I've ever worked so hard on writing something as I did this afternoon and it truly was a disaster in that it did not meet the criteria I was given. It wasn't a horrible essay but it did NOT do what it was supposed to, or rather I did not write in the method that I was supposed to write.

Prior to the conference I was feeling a bit smug about being "chosen" for this class. There is no smugness left.

I am thrilled to be here and am loving it, however it is kicking my butt in a big way! I'm hoping to rework my assignment from this afternoon so that it meets some of the criteria of what Mary wanted. I've got a new assignment to work on as well so I should get to work on something!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Godde

I've noticed that a few bloggers have started using Godde rather than God. It makes the point that the use of "God" still tends to imply that God is masculine whereas Godde makes the point that Godde is more than simply mascualine and feminine (definately more than a being with a penis!).

I like using Godde--I wonder how my congregation will feel about seeing that in print?

PS. Thanks Shawna!

Putting It One Paper

I'm here! I'm actually here in Collegeville, MN at the Collegeville Ecumenical Institute and just had my introduction to a bit of what I'll be learning and working on in my writing! And do I have a LOT to learn!

As I explored my apartment I sensed just how much God has guided my life. I'm a girl who is more familiar with a trailor than a house with a big back yard and landscaping. Just the other day a good friend of mine pointed out that it doesn't take much to impress me--more than donuts at a hotel breakfast--awesome! I'm low-maintenence like that. I get a haircut every 4 to 6 months or so. I get my eyebrows waxed once a month or so. I have worn the same sandals nearly everyday for the past 4 years (Birkenstocks rock!). I wear jeans to church almost every Sunday. I'm a simple girl.

Today I walked into a small two bedroom apartment. It's nice and clean, simple and looks out over a lake with green trees lining the shore. It's breathtaking. Add to that, I am alone in this two bedroom apartment with a study in it that also overlooks the lake. Add to that, I am here to learn how to improve my writing and hence my preaching. I am here with a professional who has looked over a paper and essentially disected it to see what is inside--what kind of verbs do I use? What kinds of sentences do i use? How long are my sentences? This is just the beginning. That was the first 10 minutes!

I am blessed beyond measure! I am blessed beyond my wildest dreams! I've dreamt of being a writer since I could hold a pencil and write words. When I've shared my writing with professors and friends if they have said good things, encouraging things about my writing I shook it off as people who have care, who are being nice. Today, I was encouraged by someone who doesn't know or care about me other than in the fact that I am a human being. I was chosen to be here. Don't worry, I'm not getting a big head or full of myself.

Rather, as the tears rolled from my eyes and I tried to catch my breath, I realized that this is what is meant/intended for all of us. That feeling of love beyond measure.

In the beginning thoughts like, "How did I ever deserve this?" popped in and out of my mind. Then it dawned on me that this was not for me alone. I have not been blessed so that I may feel superior or supreme. Rather I have been blessed in order to share my blessing. No sharing in writing or finding a wonderful book but in sharing the message that Godde sent to me this day.

For you have been given much, much is expected.

This is not for me--not wholly for me--it is too large, too grand, too big for my life alone.

I'm just a girl from no where, no one, nothing special--no more than anyone else. This is Godde's vision--Godde's goodness meant for all of us. No starving, hungry children, no one abused or neglected. Rather all are meant to be surrounded by love and beauty that whispers insistantly that htis is the life and love meant for all of us.

Whispers from Godde say you are special! You are loved! You are worthy beyond your wildest dreams! Godde's goodness is created/crafted for you out of Godde's abundant love and joy and delight in you. Yes, you are worthy and so are they. Take this love to them--end the hunger, end the pain, end the expectations because I blow them all away. I love you! Godde.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Day 6:AC

Today was the first day since Thursday that I did not log at least 300 miles on my car. I've enjoyed and appreciated not driving from Mound City to Springfield this day! It amazes me how exhausting driving can be. Tomorrow I will be driving back to Mound City. I will be glad to be home for the day but I'm not looking towards teh drive.

Earlier tonight we attended the CCYM (Conference Council Youth Ministry) worship. It was awesome! We are blessed by some talented and brave youth (definately brave! I'd be scared to be up on the stage at AC). A group of 7th & 8th graders played and sang! Amazing!

Hopefully I'll have some pictures to post soon!

Saturday, June 5, 2010

A first

I had a first today.  It was pretty amusing.

As I watched a young man say good-bye to his family after we celebrated his grandfather's life I noticed that we have the same tattoo!  Slighty different and in different places yet we both have Kokopelli tattooed on our bodies and on the same leg!  His Kokopelli is on his right calf muscle while mine is on my thigh (and thus I did not approach him and show him mine).  After he left I told his mother that her son and I had matching tattoos.  We shared a laughed about it.  I look forward to hearing his response. 

His mom is moving to our town for a while.  I don't know, she doesn't know for how long.  I'm thrilled that she will be around.  She's pretty amazing, funny, witty, and definately someone I'd be good friends with and while I have friends in our area, I don't have any close friends and I have the distinct feeling we'd be close.  I'm glad to know that she'll be around even if only for a short while.

Day 4 & 5

4 days is all it took to break the challenge!  that is true with just about anything i take on--or so it seems.  to be fair to myself, the past 2 days have had at least 5 hours of drive time in them and when i finally got to the hotel and then home i was not up to sitting at a computer.

i'm preparing for a funeral at 2pm.  folks will be here around 1pm for visitation.  i really shouldn't be blogging right now but i'm nervous and still worried about it.

the funeral is for a wonderful man who was pivotal to our church.  i barely knew him.  thankfully his pastor from florida (they were snowbirds) is doing the eulogy and sermon.  i'm essentially the mc.  i'm glad the other pastor came all this way--it says oodles about the pastor and the man whose life we are celebrating.

i hope to see my youngest for a few hours before heading back to annual conference.  otherwise i won't see her for a total of 3 weeks.  i don't think i can do that!  i think i may have to teach her how to skype (and learn myself!).

i leave for collegeville, mn on Tuesday for the Putting It On Paper writing workshop.  i'm excited and scared to death!  i'll actually have to write and work and get critiqued.  scary but wonderful stuff.  i really need the focus right now.

say a prayer for the Moorman family if you get a chance and i hope it's a wonderful Saturday for you!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Day 3, 2nd Take

Weird!  I came back to make a quick post about Phyllis Tickle's book, The Words of Jesus: A Gospel of the Sayings of Our Lord, and noticed that the post I had made a bit earlier tonight never posted!  It has been eaten up by the internet!

I'm taking it as a sign that what I was posting didn't really need to be read. I'll take it as a hint from the fates that it's better not to say such things in this forum.  Now, you're curious aren't you? Ok, so maybe not!

I'm thoroughly enjoying Tickle's writing.  I think this is the first time I've read her.  Last year at the Christianity 21 Conference she stole my heart.  She was witty, sharp, on target, and sweet.  It was a real pleasure to listen to her speak--especially with Sarcastic Lutheran!

I'm not even a third of the way through so I'm not offering a book review--rather I'm encouraging you to pick it up and read it for yourself. 

So here is what I fell in love with yesterday afternoon:
...That in addition to the approaches of the literal and the metaphorical camps there is a third way of knowing the Scriptures.  There is --for want of a better word--actualness.  There is interior to Scripture a holiness that is subject neither to literalness nor to metaphorical translation, but rather is the irreducible, ineluctable cohesian of it.  The holiness of Scripture is its actualness, its unsplitable state; and conversely, the actual existence or pith or vitality of Scripture is its holiness.  That is, by assuming an interior rather than an exterior point of view in considering Scripture, I became persuaded by two things:  the bald-faced truth of it and the impossibility of ever, in time, receiving its full meaning.
Actualness acknowledges that Scripture is not literal and neither is it merely metaphorical--rather it is more than both of those.  It is seeking the heart of Scripture--taking it as it is even when it's something as radical and awful as Jesus saying to love your enemies.    Jesus was constantly saying things that we water down and suggest that he didn't quite mean them the way it sounds and yet some people like Phyllis Tickle, Shane Clairborne, Jim Wallis, and many others would argue that Jesus did say what he meant.  Jesus did mean for us to give up our stuff and follow him.  Yet, it does not mean that God literally crafted and created and breathed life into creation in 7 days, nor 7 days that signify some other strange and magical mathematical formulation that makes sense to some other folks.  It is what it is...God crafted, created, and breathed life into our world in ways in which are deep and rich with meaning beyond what we see and understand at first glance.

Actualness (according to Tickle) is what Jesus was when he healed on the Sabbath to the dismay of the Pharisees.  Jesus says he did not come to destroy the law but to make it come to life more fully--this is what Tickle describes in this book.  It's beautiful.  It's not terribly new int he scheme and histories of Christianity but for those of us in this time and place it can be thought of as cutting edge.

Getting to the heart of it without watering it down--accepting the Scriptures with what they say and going even further, delving more deeply into their meaning so that we can more fully understand.

I'm tired and my thoughts are a bit discombobulated.  Please check out Tickle's book you won't regret it!  (r perhaps you might but that's your problem!  :)

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Cause we all need one

Thanks kathrynzj!

Day 2: What's your favorite poem?

It sorta feels like cheating blogging so early.  I have a feeling that my night owlishness is getting a bit extreme!

Hmm...favorite poem?  Just one?  It's by Rod McKuen.  He's known more as a song writer but my senior year of high school I somehow ended up with one of his books, Stanyon Street and Other Sorrows, and fell in love.  I painted this on the back of my denim jacket:

Do not tell me your name
why you came to town
what you do on Sunday
your favorite poet
                    movie
                    comic strip
your age and next of kin
         in case of  accident.

Say instead that I am warm
let your touch talk
let the motion in the darkness speak
then go away if you must
but not while I'm looking.

It was exactly right at that time.  It was the first time that I read a poem and my world felt complete because of it.  It fit.

It doesn't fit quite the same these days but neither does the jacket!  I still have my jacket.  It's one of those items that I will keep until I can't.  I don't keep much from my past.  Joel is quite a pack rat but I'm not.  We moved around a lot when I was a kid and so I learned to let go of stuff.  My painted denim jacket is nearly 20 years old and the paint is flaking off but it's still relevant.  On one of the arms it says "Silence Equals Death, Support AIDS Research & Awareness Programs."  The other arm features a sunset, ocean water, land and says "Save the Rainforest."  If I remember tomorrow I'll take a picture and add it to the blog.  It's not genius or gorgeous--it's just me, it's sad how much hasn't changed since then.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Day 1

The thing that drew me in to this month's NaBloPoMo's quest to post each day in June was that they are offering daily writing prompts.  I love writing prompts--you never know where they will take you!

I've altered my office hours for the summer.  I don't go in until 10am!  I know it's crazy late but it's summer and it seems that with the girls and it simply being summer, my nights go rather late.  During the summer we rarely have dinner before 9, the evenings are just packed!  I am amazingly blessed to have such flexibility in my career!  It is my hope that I can dedicate this extra morning time to blogging and writing more regularly--hooray!

Today's writing prompt:  When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?

The first thing I remember wanting to be was a Sunday School teacher--I didn't have a clue that I could grow up  and be a pastor!  I'm honored to stand behind the pulpit and preach almost every Sunday.  It also thrills me to no end when I see some of the little girls from church "play church" and be the pastor!  I love it! 

I also wanted to play 3rd base for the Kansas City Royals.  So how is it that I thought I could break the no girls allowed rule in professional baseball but not the ministry? 

Yet, as I write it occurs to me that I wasn't a huge fan of our pastor at the time.  He was angry and scary--always preaching fire and brimstone and shouting that we were going to Hell.  Now that I think about it, no wonder I  didn't want to be a pastor!  He was icky and scary while our Sunday School teacher was loving, kind, and wonderful--of course I'd want to be like her rather than him!

Great day at the K!

It was a glorious day at the K!  The sun was shining, we had a great breeze for most of the afternoon.  We were with great friends and even ran into a few by surprise.  The people watching was fierce!  Crazy drunken men and women making fools of themselves and their friends.  We were relieved when we realized that they were not a family--or at least we hope they were not!

My girls didn't fight!  In fact, they got along wonderfully!  On our way home, they even talked about how great it was to just hang out and get along--they talked about how much they enjoyed being with each other!  I began to worry that perhaps this was my gift before wrecking the car and taking us out in a horrific car crash!  Thankfully, we all arrived safe at home tonight!

I wish I had a picture of the kid's face who sat in front of Merkin.  The Royals' announcer began playing an instrumental version of Lil' Mama's "Lip Gloss."  Merkin made a crack about me being old and asked if I knew what the song was.  I replied that yes, I knew it was Lil' Mama.  She then made another crack about me being old and lame.  So after a few minutes I turned to her rapping "My lip gloss is cool, my lip gloss is poppin..." and the poor kid in front of us about keeled over laughing--it was awesome!

The Royals lost the game but we had a great time cheering just the same. 

After the game we talked with some pastors who are absolutely amazing!  Beautiful on the inside and out.  Highly intelligent and extraordinarily witty.  The he of the pair will be appointed to the one church in KCMO that I would LOVE to pastor!  I'm so jealous!  That said, I know he'll be amazing and can't wait to hear and see how he and his family will impact the church.  I'm glad he'll be there even if I'd rather it be me!  That said, I know that I am where God wants me for now so it's "all good!" 

It's way past my bedtime so I better go.  Just had to say hello and brag a bit about mustaches at the K, great friends, and awesome entertainment!  Can't wait till the next day at the K!  Next time with Miss Ainsley!  I miss you girlie!