Angels We Have Heard
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Cavalcade of Bad Nativities
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The Passion of the Tchotchke
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Stations of the Kitsch


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Tuesday, September 30, 2003

let me go put on something purple

Babies are so little when they get here. I went to see Kaya twice today. She's so beautiful! I held her and she wiggled around and her little knit cap wouldn't stay on. It's a silly thing, like a ski cap with a big pompom on the top.

Yesterday really felt like the best part of Advent. All those people, waiting for one moment to happen, that moment when something huge and miraculous would come into the world. Waiting to enter into the mystery of a birth.

Here's the thing that is blowing me away...the way that this baby's newness is bringing a sense of newness to the world.

All I know is that we're all going around grinning like a bunch of idiots.
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I just wanted to be Bavarian for one brief, shining moment...is that so wrong?

I'm going to try to be all financially responsible and stewardship-focused in October...really...but Archie McPhee has Wind-up Hopping Lederhosen and for some reason it is just cracking me up. And I still need a Dashboard Jesus for my car, to match the one on my monitor at work. Must be strong. Must resist.
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Monday, September 29, 2003

just shining pieces of a dream

So, yesterday I mentioned how very very pregnant Maggie was. Well, her water broke during staff meeting this morning, and Kaya Elizabeth arrived at 7:07 p.m. She was born almost two weeks before her due date, but is perfectly large and healthy. Maggie and her husband were both ready to not be pregnant any longer, so it was rather considerate of Kaya to get things rolling, really.

The official word for today was, "anything?" I had people calling the office, skipping hello and going directly to "anything?" I considered just answering the phone "Thank you for calling St. Ned's! Nothing!" It was such a cool day. We put up a sign on the front door which said, "we're having a baby!" and spent all day on pins and needles, waiting for the call to get our butts over to the hospital to see this new miracle.

It took bit longer for her to get here than we expected, based on how quickly everything was going at first. There were several hours this afternoon when we didn't have any updates. I picked up Maggie's dog (the one who writes Bible studies) and took him out for a walk in the park which is conveniently located between St. Ned's and the hospital, and ran into a bunch of people from the parish who were all hanging out with their cel phones on, waiting for news.

I look forward to the day when we can all tell her just how big of a deal her birth was, how many people were waiting to welcome her into the world. She's going to get a lot of ogling through that glass window tomorrow.
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Sunday, September 28, 2003

everything I've ever let go of has claw marks on it

Another really great Anne Lamott piece in Salon.

It was like being in the Twilight Zone. It was a nightmare. It was clear that the pastor, Veronica, was speaking directly to me. She said that Christians have a very bad reputation in the world, because we have earned it, with our hate and self-righteousness. We speak in reverent terms of grace, justice, equality, mercy, and then we despise people who were also created in God's image, who are Her children too. She said that if George Bush had been the only person on earth, Jesus would still have come down and died for him.

This drives me crazy. That God seems to have no taste, and no standards. Of course, by the same token, on most days, this is what gives some of us hope.

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just a simple glimpse will keep you simply standing there

Godly Play was so much better today!

I spent a good chunk of yesterday afternoon practicing the Creation story at Dennis' place while he was at work. So, this morning, I rolled out my black felt and said, "in the beginning there was...not very much," except, you know, a bunch of white cat hair from Madame Clyde, who was being helpful while I was rehearsing. The kids didn't notice, fortunately. Note to self: check to see if felt needs to be lint-rollered before class starts.

My friend Maggie*, who put together the Godly Play program for St. Ned's, sat in today to help me out if needed. She is very pregnant, since her due date is two weeks away, and one of the kids was very concerned that the baby doesn't have a name yet, at least not publicly. He wanted us to immediately start making lists of possible baby names since Maggie seemed to have overlooked this vital step. Which is still better than the very small child who wanted to pull up Maggie's dress during the children's sermon last week, to see where the baby was.

My doorperson today was Jane. I love Jane. She's one of the two grandmothers on my folding team - every week they come in on Friday morning and fold all the bulletins. I didn't have the main one finished in time this week (the less said about that...) so I had to fold 250 of them myself on Friday afternoon. I now double-super-appreciate Jane and Gretchen and their faithful service. Also, they crack me up. One day, they started singing Proud Mary for no good reason. They're both Godly Play door monitors and Jane works in my room. She did stretches with the kids outside the door before class started, just to get a bit of their extra energy out, which helped a lot.

The door monitor is basically the other adult in the room. She helps with getting the kids into the room so they can join the circle at the beginning, and then helps out during response time, while the kids are doing artwork or working with the story materials, and during the feast she helps the kids serve the drinks and snacks. It's a slightly less intense job than storyteller, just because they don't have to memorize anything ahead of time.

I had 5 kids today instead of 8, which made things easier. There were still interruptions during the story, but not as many as last week and the kids weren't as intent on playing with the materials while I was telling the story. I think it really helped that I talked about the day's schedule, and what I expected, before I dove in. They must have been listening, because I talked about getting a rug out of the basket to define a workspace during response time, and when response time came around...they all did it. They went and got rugs and worked on the rugs! After last week, this feels like a huge triumph! Cause and effect!

Maggie had to take one child out for a few minutes, but he came back in and handled the rest of the time pretty well. I really like him; he's one of my two Asperger's Syndrome boys, so it's harder for him to stay with the program and not be disruptive, but I'm glad he's there. I pulled him aside today during response time (there was a Situation developing over the church year puzzle) and asked him to tell me about the Ten Commandments. He unpacked the tablets from their little box and told me what they meant. He has this TV Preacher voice that he uses when he's talking about God, and he uses a lot of biblical language. God is very alive to him.

Next week is going to be fun - we're doing Noah and the Flood, which uses our beautiful arks. One of the other parishioners made an elaborate wooden ark for each of the four classrooms, complete with jigsaw-cut animals and a little gangplank for them to go up and down. I think he also put a little kid-magnet in the bottom of it, because it's often the first thing that gets taken off the shelf during response time. It's a really seductive object.

Someone else is rotating in as storyteller after next week...it's going to be really hard to let go, even for just the few weeks until I'm back on again.

[* For reasons I can't actually explain, I feel weird identifying St. Ned's people by name, so I'm making up really lame pseudonyms, at least until they tell me it's ok!]
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Friday, September 26, 2003

hooray hooray hooray hooray today today is your birthday!

Today is Ryan's birthday, whoo and hoo! She's only, like, my most favoritest person in the world, so I'm super duper happy she was born. Happy birthday Ryan!
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Thursday, September 25, 2003

But everything you see's not the way it seems -- Tears can sing and joy shed tears.

We're talking about Time this month @ St. Ned's. The other day during staff meeting we were discussing whether we think we live in the past, the present, or the future (hint: the right answer is 'the present'). And I suddenly realized that, earlier this year, I lost my future and I don't think I've really gotten it back. And I'm not especially sorry about that.

I started out the year engaged to Dennis, living with him in Oakland, planning the wedding, and with some certainty about where God was calling me to be. I had my future pretty well mapped out, and then it all fell apart and I stopped having a future that looked like anything specific.

I spent a lot of time trying to get that well-defined future back. I thought about rushing into seminary, just to feel like I was on a path, any path. I tried to make everything seem more solid than it was, because I'm not good with ambiguity. I'm just not. I like my life to be nicely mapped out. I liked being able to say to people, "Well, I know exactly what I'll be doing for the next five years or so."

It's strange to be in a place where I don't really have any goals that can be measured. I'm not very concerned with making more money right now or having a "better" job or having the answers about my vocation or anything else that my parents can write in their Christmas letter. Not that they have one, but you know what I mean. I'm just kind of sitting here and waiting for further instructions.

When I was totally focused on the future, all I could do was work toward it, to try to make that imagined thing real. I missed a lot of what was going on in my actual life as a result. Which, i-ron-ick-ally, probably led to losing that future, at least the way I thought it was going to be.

I don't know what will happen with me and Dennis now that we're together again, and I'm not really invested in needing to know. I'm just happy to have him around. It's a joy to love him.

I am starting to understand the point of the really horrible desert times. Maybe there are people who can move forward and deepen their faith in the midst of great joy. I'm not one of them. It's hard for me to trust people who say that they get more of a spiritual boost from the great times than the lousy ones. When I'm happy, it's more of an 'I'll just stay here, thanks' kind of energy. Shield the joyous. I don't start thinking about how I can rub off a little more skin to get down to the real stuff at that moment. For me, the most rewarding work happens in the low times, when I actually notice that God is there and would like to have a wuuuuuurd with me. I'm not saying that I'm cooperative, just that if it's gonna happen, it happens then.

The thing I learned this year is that I can go into the desert and deal with some of the really ugly stuff, with complete faith that I will come out again at some point. Maybe that's obvious to most people, but it's new for me; I've always been of the, "Well, this sucks. Guess this is where I live now. Might as well get used to it, because nothing will ever be good again," ilk as soon as I get a little bit of sand on my toes. Perspective? Not my strong suit.

This is what dear uncle Screwtape calls the law of undulation, and I see why it's dangerous (from the demon's viewpoint) for us to find about it. When I shut down that unpleasant little voice in my head that takes away all the hope, I'm free to live in the present moment and be really alive to what's happening, because God is there and there is movement.
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Wednesday, September 24, 2003

ooh yeah, baby, right there

My friend Tracy, who is a massage therapist, just came by the office with her massage chair and gave my neck and back some very welcome attention. Oooooh yeah. That was great.

She gave me a full-body massage for my birthday back in April, which was wooonderful. She set up her table in the library here at work, so I had an interesting moment when I realized that I was naked at church, which, let's face it, just doesn't happen all that often. At least not for me.

I've actually had a fair number of massages in my life, since we had an on-site person at BigStupidCo and I used to go to her every couple of weeks. But Tracy's massages are the best.
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small blessings laid upon us; small mysteries slowly unfold

I'm feeling a lot better about Godly Play for this Sunday. As I predicted, I'm getting a bunch of support from various directions. We'll have some extra adults in the room this week, we're going to make the expectations much clearer, and kids who can't deal with the two options they have, sitting in the circle or sitting with the doorperson, will be taken out of the room.

TheRev wants to be sure the majority of kids have a good experience and the teachers don't burn out. I understand where he's coming from, especially since we're still getting the program established, for all the kids.

This transition time is just a lot harder on some of the kids with Asperger's or ADD or learning disabilities, the ones who need a lot of order. Maybe if it doesn't work for them right now, they'll be able to try again when things are running more smoothly in a few months. I do feel drawn to find out more about doing religious ed with special needs kids. I saw these little flashes of grace happening on Sunday, and I wouldn't mind getting a bit closer to that at some point.

It's hard to be confronted with my own ideas about how things are supposed to work. I guess I thought Godly Play would work right out of the gate, and wouldn't involve anything as difficult and messy as actual children. Yes, it connected with me right away, but I'm not 10, and no one just shoved me in a room that's being run by that lady from the church office.
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Tuesday, September 23, 2003

because i'm a joyful girl

Dennis drove down from Berkeley early this morning to have breakfast with me. We hit the $2.99 special at Carrow's, which was fun mostly for the people-watching (except I really didn't want to know what I now know about that one loud guy's prostate). Then I went to work and he came by a little bit later with flowers for me, and some new music for my dented car. It was such a great way to start Tuesday.

I was up until 3 this morning finishing the ren faire costume for my niece. I didn't even take pictures of it; I just loaded it in the box this morning and sent it off to FedEx. So I was cranky and overtired for much of the day. I really could have used a blanket sleeper, a bottle, and a nap.

Instead, I got plumbing issues. I spent a healthy chunk of the morning dealing with toilets. Bad toilets. We had the two main bathrooms both down and I figured I'd be happier standing in one of them with a plumbing snake than I would be sitting at my desk and telling person after person that yes, I knew about the bathrooms and I had called someone to fix them. Also, the person I would normally call was having a lousy morning and I didn't want to make it worse.

Anyway, the toilet. I snaked it and got a pencil. Um, kids, no pencils in the toilet. That's pretty basic. Then I couldn't figure out why there was no water coming into the tank. I don't know all that much about toilets, but I'm pretty sure there's supposed to be water. Turned out that some helpful person turned off the water because the toilet was acting weird. But didn't, you know, tell anyone or leave a note or anything. So I spent a bunch of time trying to figure out what the deal was before I thought to try turning up the water at the wall valve. After that the thing worked fine. I got that same butch feeling I had after I changed my headlight bulb.

The other toilet had a small stupid problem with the chain connected to the stopper inside the tank. I fixed it in about 20 seconds. The problem part is getting replaced this week, so hopefully it won't happen again.

And, of course, I have flowers on my desk and I can look up and know who brought them and smile.
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Monday, September 22, 2003

funny but it seems I always wind up here with you; itís nice to know somebody loves me

I went to see Dennis yesterday after my disaster of a morning. He picked up dinner at one of our favorite taquerias and brought home Home Movie for our viewing amusement. I slipped into the moose-print PJ pants I keep there (if you've ever wondered what the diametric opposite of sexy is...it's the moose pants) and took up residence on the couch. We nuked up the heat pads my chiro gave me, and I used the one for my lower back while he wrapped the neck one around his keyboard-stressed arm and then we traded and I heated my neck and we moved the ice packs around. It was a perfect evening, if a bit invalid-esque.

It's so incredible to find that home isn't a place, it's another person.
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this monkey's gone to heaven

A moment of silence please for the giant inflatable monkey, who was decapitated at the youth group pool party yesterday.
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Sunday, September 21, 2003

hold on honey there's a new dawn coming

My first day of teaching Godly Play sucked like a big sucky thing that sucks rocks and lives in the far corner of the aquarium and not even the snails like it.

It was me with a group of 9 & 10 year-olds, mostly special-needs boys, and I had zero control over the situation. I read all of the GP materials again over the weekend and tried to use their methods of dealing with disruptive kids, but they don't seem to be written for cases where the vast majority of the kids are throwing things and running around and may or may not be able to stop doing that.

I just sat and cried after the class, I was so frustrated and disappointed and overwhelmed by the whole experience. I know that is lame and self-centered, because it isn't supposed to be about me at all. It just really feels like I fucked up and I can't even say where it all went wrong.

I think the fact that the Godly Play discipline plan didn't work is what really has me rattled, because I have no idea what else I could do. This is probably why parents usually teach Sunday School; at least they've developed instincts for this stuff. I, on the other hand, can't keep plants alive.

There's ongoing discussion about what we're going to do with this classroom, and I know I'll have more help and support until things improve. I'm on for storytelling for two more weeks and then I'll be off for at least three weeks. I'm going to a training next month on doing GP with older kids and with special needs kids, which should help fill in some of what's missing in the books. At least I'll be able to hear what's working for other people. The main thing I have to remember is that I'm not in this by myself, and that I don't need to come up with all the answers on my own. There's a whole team of people at St. Ned's, the kids have parents, there's the Godly Play organization, and of course Jesus shows up for class, too, and is there in the middle of it. Which is, you know, kind of the point. I'm just going to keep showing up and finding something to love about each kid.

There were a couple of really cool moments during the class, like when a couple of kids had the materials for the Creation story out and were trying to figure out what order the story goes in, and one kid was telling me all about the big bang and how God made dinosaurs and bacteria but that isn't in any of the pictures we have. I told him that we'll be talking about the Creation story next week and he can draw new pictures to put in his timeline. I'm glad the kids seemed so fired up about that story, since it may make next week easier. finds small shred of hope to cling to...
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Friday, September 19, 2003

How pirate you be?


according to the rebelsnail.net Pirate Assesment. How Pirate Are You?
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It be here at last!

Happy Talk Like A Pirate Day, me 'earties! ARRRRRRR!
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Wednesday, September 17, 2003

Listy McLister II

Things that suck about my life:

  1. I have had Bohemian Rhapsody in my head all the livelong day. I will consider surgical removal if it does not leave soon.
  2. Writer's block
Things which rock about my life:
  1. This week is less intense at work, so it's not a total disaster that I'm operating at about 80% of capacity.
  2. Other Insurance Company will pay for a rental while my car is in the shop.
  3. Weird little joy blips where I suddenly feel like dancing a bit, just not to Bohemian Rhapsody.
  4. Dennis is feeding me homemade pesto tomorrow night, with amazing bread from La Farine.
  5. I have kitty shoes!
  6. Endless supply of Diet Crack and onion dip leftover from party.
  7. News of monkey fairness.
  8. I get to teach Godly Play for the first time on Sunday.
  9. Bonus Simpsons tonight.
  10. I'm making good progress on my niece's ren faire costume, by doing a little bit at a time. It will be ready to be shipped out on Monday.
  11. Biofreeze. I want that big huge pump bottle on the website. Or maybe just a vat of it that I can dip my body into.
  12. I attributed this week's bible study guide to my friend's dog instead of to TheRev, who actually wrote it. The dog looked rather pleased with himself.

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Tuesday, September 16, 2003

sara smash! smash!

Sara is a Giant Lizard that lives Underwater, is Wreathed with Flames, has a Swirly Hypnotic Gaze, spits Ice, and eats Metal. (Strength: 10 Agility: 4 Intelligence: 5)

Unleash your Giant Battle Monster.
via something understood (hi, Chris!)

(think about that people - I live underwater AND am wreathed with flames. I am one bad mammajamma.)
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send for reinforcements, 'cause there's too much here for me to love

That line from Hi-Lo and Inbetween by Neil Halstead is really working for me this week. Despite the fact that I am in pretty much constant pain from the accident (this is just getting embarassing...there's nothing less glamorous than whiplash), there's still a lot of good happening. And I have so many inflatable monkeys peering at me from all over the house. They really got around during the party; I'm still finding them.

Life is pretty freakin' good.
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Sunday, September 14, 2003

drink up me 'earties yo ho

The pirate party kicked booty.

I wore my kitty shoes, but put an eyepatch on one of them so it would be more pirate-y. Very dangerous pink kitty. I also wore a pirate t-shirt from Torrid and figured I was sufficiently pirated. Until the real pirates showed up. I was dramatically out-pirated by that group. (photo left)

I'm not sure you can see the fork-hand in the photo. It's a regular hook hand but with a fork instead of a hook. For the pirate who be tossin' a salad, arrrrrr.

Sea shanteys were sung and played on kazoos, Dennis manned the grill, Jon brought his fabulous guacamole, a baby got out of his diaper and ran around naked, people swam, bad pirate jokes were told, and it was a fine time. I had enough help with cleanup that I didn't dread getting out of bed this morning.

I have a metric buttload of food and beverages left over (surprise) but I'm sure that it will not go to waste. I don't have to buy Diet Crack at all for the next month, and the beer will be transferred to the next party, which I think will be Ryan's PumpkinFest. Yes, I do have about 6 bottles of Two-Buck Chuck left over. Surprise. We drank a mess of tequila, though. I guess the lure of Margarita in a Skull Cup was just too much to pass up.

St. Ned's Jr. High youth group pool party next weekend spontaneously got itself a pirate theme, as I'll be sending all the decorations and toys that way. Arrrrrrr!
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Friday, September 12, 2003

insert lame pussyfooting joke here

I had a really craptacular day yesterday so I indulged in some retail therapy and bought these shoes after work. They are some of the sillier things I've owned, and I love them like a big loving thing. I got 'em at Torrid (Hot Topic for the large). Did I mention that there is a pink kitty tail on the side of the shoes?

I was at the chiro for two hours. My neck sucks. Last night it was bugging me so much, I considered using the Hitachi for its allegedly intended purpose. I have several more appointments next week. Lots of ice in my future this weekend, and not just for the margaritas (or 'Margs' if we're getting all O.C., which of course we are not) at the pirate party tomorrow night.

Also, fun Sara fact: my spine is crooked.

I'm working on a larger bit of writing right now based on a great meeting with my spiritual director this week, but it's not gelling yet. I think I'm in the Pissed Off stage of dealing with the accident, because I'm going to be losing a lot of time to chiro appointments next week, and my head hurts, and all in all I'd really be happier if that guy had just hit his brakes in time. Sigh. But looking at my kitty-licious feet is cheering me up a great deal.

Ok, off to run pirate-party-related errands! Avast!
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Wednesday, September 10, 2003

puny humans read blog

Today's amusement: Hulk Blog
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time for Jesus

My mom sent me the coolest clocks today. They're basic cheapass plastic clocks, and one has a painting of Jesus on it and the other has Mary. Jesus seems to be wearing a lot of blush, or maybe the color saturation is just cranked up too high. Anyway, they're fab, and will be fine additions to my tacky Jesus stuff collection. I'm so glad I have my mom shopping the flea markets of the South on my behalf.

My neck still hurts, and I have a chiro appointment on Friday. It is making me cranky. I did hear from the Other Guy's insurance company and they're taking full responsibility (duh) so hopefully I'll have my car fixed pretty soon.
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Monday, September 08, 2003

someone's whining, lord, kumbaya

Owie owie owie. My neck hurts today. Yeah, I know, that's standard the day after an accident and it should be gone by tomorrow, but I would really like to stay in bed today and have my army of personal servants apply soothing ointments and feed me diet crack and garlic noodles. Unfortunately, they are still on strike over their horrible working conditions and are not available for said duty. So I might as well go to work.
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Oh I would still be on my feet

I was underwhelmed by the exhibitors at the Art & Wine festival in general, but I really liked what I saw from this artist: jewelry for the soul. She'll do whatever custom text you want on rings and bracelets and necklaces and such. I loved the ring that says 'love is touching souls' surely you touched mine 'cause part of you pours out of me in these lines from time to time...

So, there's a good question...if you could put any Joni Mitchell lyrics on a ring, what would they be...
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Sunday, September 07, 2003

thou shalt not hurt the beetle

I was driving home after church to change into comfy shoes for the Art & Wine Festival, and someone rear-ended the beetle on El Camino.

There was some confusion with the other guy not seeing me pull into a nearby parking lot after the accident, so we ended up at the police station (I called and reported a hit-and-run, and he was there saying that he had hit someone who disappeared). He was really nice, and we swapped insurance info. We both have good insurance, so I think things should go smoothly.

The damage isn't all that bad (but I'm sure I'll be appalled by the estimate, since my bumper will need to be repainted). Our bumpers matched up pretty well. I think he just has a bent license plate and a scratch. The housing for the little lights around my license plate are smashed, so there's more damage on my car and it will probably have to go to the shop for a couple of days. I have some housesitting gigs coming up, though, so maybe I'll be able to get the work done while I can drive someone else's car. Everything is still functional except those lights don't point in the right place now.

If he had been driving an SUV instead of a sedan, I'm sure it would have been much worse and I probably wouldn't have gotten out with just a serious case of the shakes.

Today has to get better, right?
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Saturday, September 06, 2003


Greetings from a lovely Saturday. Of course, any Saturday which begins with a spinach/mushroom/jack omelette from Mama's Royal Cafe in Oakland is already on a track to greatness. Don't even get me started on the potatoes that came with it. The ones with the sour cream.

This is me not stressing about work. Really. I'm not.

What I'm doing right now: trying to figure out how much stuff to buy for the pirate party next Saturday, which will probably involve around 40-50 people. How much two-buck Chuck wine is too much? I freakin' loves me some Chuck, so if I have a ton of merlot left over, I'll still be a happy chick. I'm just doing beer, wine, and sodas, and Margaritas, maybe? Hmmmm....how many blenders can I borrow...

I still have to figure out what I should serve in the skull cups.

There is a huge trip to Costco and another to Trader Joe's in my future. As always, I am happy that Ryan has a station wagon, because the bug? Not so good for this sort of thing. Square box in round car.
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Thursday, September 04, 2003


I still feel completely lousy today. Ecch. I didn't sleep well at all. I'm going to have to cancel my fun social stuff tonight, 'cause I'm just not up to it. I will be like unto the pirates that don't do anything.

One amusing thing - when I gave the newsletter to people to proofread and edit, they found that I had put html tags in the text of one of the articles. Not an article that would ever go on the parish's site. I was just thinking in html again, so that's how I did my italics. <not the sign of a sane person>

Real Live Preacher is in fine form today and I highly recommend you go read that instead of my whining.
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Wednesday, September 03, 2003

stupid shrimp

Tonight, I'm sick after getting shrimp cooties in my no-shrimp paella at church. I have a shellfish allergy - not the dying kind, just the, "hey, all that stuff you ate today? buh-bye" kind. I should not have been eating food prepared alongside the full-shrimp version. That was stupid. It's totally not the kitchen's fault, I should just know better.

Ryan came over tonight after dinner to help with a costume I'm making for my oldest niece, but I started feeling horrible about twenty minutes into the project and it had to be abandoned. Sigh.

I'm getting a bit overwhelmed at work again, too. As much as I enjoyed having Monday off and spending part of the day with Dennis, cramming everything into a four-day week is a challenge. I keep forgetting what day it is, and the realization is never of the happy variety. Tomorrow is bulletin day already, and based on the way I feel now, it's going to be a rough one. I'll be stopping for a Jamba Juice on the way in to the office, and then if I'm lucky, maybe I can work up to solid food by lunchtime.

Ok, is that enough about my digestive system? Look for my spin-off, GutBlog, coming soon.


A fine shanty: The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything

The ladybug costume I will be making for youngest niece. I really liked the duck and the sheep when I picked the pattern, but she saw the ladybug and said the ladybug is IT so I'm going with the ladybug. The little antennae are so cute. They're bumpy chenille stems.
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Tuesday, September 02, 2003

If someone asks, this where I'll be . . . where I'll be

One of those complaints you hear all the time about why people don't go to church is that they're afraid that they'll be pressured into doing stuff. You know, teaching Sunday School, being on the Altar Guild, making coffee.

Yes, there are some churches where it's all about arm twisting and getting warm bodies into open slots on whatever committee or group needs more people. Often people in them can tell that there's something off, but it's hard to name what it is.

St. Ned's isn't that kind of place, and I'm very happy about that. There's a policy of, if doing something doesn't give you joy, do us a favor and don't do it. We need servant leaders who serve gladly, not people who resent what they're doing. The people who wash dishes after the parish dinner need to be happy to be together and washing dishes. (and, from all appearances, they do seem to be having a fine time) That's a top-down kind of thing, and I really give TheRev credit for growing that kind of culture.

The reason we can get away with this is that we put a lot of effort into discerning spiritual gifts, mostly in the context of our small groups. We use one of the standard spiritual gifts inventories, and then discuss each person's results, including ministries that might be a good fit. Since everyone knows their gifts, they're more free to say, "you know, that's really not my bag...how about if I do this instead?" and really be heard. I don't think we get the kind of widespread ministry burnout I've seen in other places, where you just can't do something another minute because you should never have been doing it in the first place. I'm not sure what all has gone into it, but I do feel like we've created a healthy place for lay ministry.

There will always be people who will say that they were pressured, but I always wonder if that isn't more about needing to feel Important and Sought-After. It's comforting in a martyr-ish way to think that you are the only person who can solve a problem, that you ride up to every meeting on your big white horse, that you must do it even though you would rather be doing something else. I hate being on committees with those people. I hate it even more when I am that person. I'm getting better about it, though.

As I've mentioned, I didn't get a set of gifts with immediately obvious uses. I topped out on Creative Communication and Craftsmanship. There's my top two. I think Hospitality may have been right behind. As for where the parish admin came out on Administration, let's just say there's a reason why I have to periodically excavate my desk with a backhoe.

I've been looking for an online version of the spiritual gifts system we use, and I'm just finding a bunch of dead links, so I think the copyright police have been through. I think there are some other systems online, but I don't know anything about them. I think we customized ours to take out Speaking in Tongues because we don't see a lot of it these days in our church. (I think we use this one)

Speaking in Tongues is, however, the name of a good Talking Heads album, although I like Little Creatures better overall.
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