Sunday, December 4, 2011

{comfort} and {joy}

I am quite partial to the Christmas songs written in a minor key.  
O Come, O Come, Emmanuel
What Child is This
Carol of the Bells 
God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen
I'm not sure why.  Maybe because although Christmas is a joyous time of celebration, it also brings some discord, or in musical terms, dissonance.  Jesus didn't really promote a life of ease.  He shook things up a bit, so to speak.  When I think about His birth related to [place], I realize it didn't involve comfort or safety.  His place of birth was a stopping off point in the midst of a long journey traveled through a country occupied by another empire.  

My husband, wise man that he is, posted a couple quotes on Twitter last week.  He was referencing "Common Prayer":
"Places that are physically safe can be spiritually deadly."
"The most dangerous place for Christians to be is in comfort and safety, detached from the suffering of others."
This is our family's first holiday season living on Loudon Avenue.  Every once in a while, I'll overhear someone say something to the effect that we live in a "bad" neighborhood.  I don't think they mean it in a derogatory way, and we definitely chose to live exactly where we do, yet it's not the "safest" part of Lexington.   We see people walk down the sidewalk everyday, many of them homeless folks heading to or from the Hope Center.  Occasionally people go through our recycling bin looking for aluminum cans they can turn in for cash.  Last week a kid attempted [unsuccessfully] to lift a few of our Christmas lights.  There have been numerous shootings in our town this year, many of them happening within walking distance of our home.  Police cars, complete with flashing lights and blaring  sirens, speed down Loudon at least once a night.

I realize there are no prizes given out to the educated, once suburban family with bright children, who chooses to move across town.  Yet, I must say there is some joy in the loss of comfort.  There is joy in being vulnerable and present in the midst of a somewhat chaotic environment.  

Lately, I've heard much related to place and safety.  Whether Facebook statuses, or comments about neighborhoods, or people's ideas regarding other "types" of people, it seems there's quite a lot of talk about feeling safe wherever we're at.  I wish more people realized there is comfort in the unsafe and safety in the uncomfortable

Tuesday, November 15, 2011


I currently don't feel so hot.  It's been touch and go for about a week.  It began with my husband.  He traveled to Indiana a short while back, and returned with this gosh awful congestion/cough/sickness type thing.  He was exposed to someone who apparently coughed/hacked/exposed his illness all over the place, all the while claiming not to be contagious.  I think this person was wrong and now his Indiana germs have spread to Kentucky.  

I had a sore throat last week, then proceeded to feel better.  Now I am congested and cannot breath well.  It kind of comes and goes, but tonight it has "come" and I feel yucky.  My husband [who is now feeling better] will soon arrive home, look at me, hear my hoarse voice and my heavy breathing, and say, "Have you taken anything?  Why don't you take some NyQuil?"  

Well, I'll tell you why. . .   I detest medicine.  It makes me loopy, it's hard to get down [I'm a gagger], and unless one needs an antibiotic [which I don't believe I've consumed since becoming an adult], medicine [IMHO] merely masks the symptoms and doesn't "cure" anything.  

So I'm drinking a cup of green tea with a shot of honey and a splash of almond milk.  If I had some brandy I'd throw it in.  But, I've never had any brandy in the house and this doesn't seem like the time to begin consuming hard liquor.  I'm a firm believer that green tea in the colder months keeps a person healthy.  It's gotten me through some rough Kentucky winters [yes, I realize Kentucky doesn't comparatively have rough winters, but I grew up in the desert, therefore to me, these winters are rough].  I will up my consumption of orange juice and Vitamin Water and I will win this fight.  

Meantime, I will enjoy having a sultry voice and look forward to next week's Thanksgiving break.  And I will be thankful that my current biggest complaint is much/much/much smaller than what many people face.  And, due to the fact that I was awake from 3 am to 5 am this morning, I might [no promises] take some NyQuil before bed and hope the dreams don't get too outrageous.  

And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts,
to which indeed you were called in one body.
And be thankful.
Colossians 3:15

Thursday, November 10, 2011


It's that time of year.  The time of year when my husband says, "Are we going to take a family photo this year?"  I think he really enjoys family photos.  Actually, I think he simply realizes the many pluses the family portrait offers:
  • makes for an easy Christmas gift
  • grandparents love them
  • lots of bang for your buck - one photo shoot covers gifts for multiple people and an hour or so of your time equals many.many.many little wallet size photos
  • makes for nice framed displays on ones work desk [ie showing off your kids]
  • they provide something to laugh at, years from now [I'm picturing the circa 1977 photo including my dad and mom in polyester and my sister and I in matching dresses]
How about this pose?  [*note:  this is NOT my family]

Perhaps these outfits?

You must be photographed on a cruise, or they won't let you eat in the dining room.

What to wear?  That's really the biggest concern, once schedules are worked out and the appointment is made.  Working with a musical high schooler's schedule is not easy.  Especially when he is auditioning, performing, and practicing for [it seems] every musical event except the Super Bowl half time show.  Mind you, I'm not complaining.  I'm excited about all the opportunities he has.  It's just not easy to find time for extra events.  Then there's work schedules, finding a time when the middle schooler is available and in a good mood, and trying to time the appointment two weeks after haircuts. [Isn't that when one's hair is supposed to look the best?]  Oh, and I checked the Packer's schedule to make sure we weren't conflicting with a game. 

Back to what to wear.  My husband would like the four of us to don our Green Bay Packer clothing.  My daughter doesn't agree.  I've noticed many families like the white shirt/jeans look.  We don't all have white shirts.  Unless we allow the men to wear undershirts, which is of course, out of the question.  My son has voiced his desire for a cardigan.  It's on his Christmas list, but alas, he doesn't own one today.  I'm considering having us wear earth tones.  We generally all look good in earth tones.  My daughter has also suggested her dad wear a suit - his only suit, and the suit he purchased sometime in the early 90s.  He refuses to wear the suit.  Unless he can wear a Packer's jersey as the shirt underneath the coat.  [Not going to happen]

We will have to come to a firm decision on our attire by at least 10 a.m. on Sunday.  The appointment is at noon.  Which is two hours before the middle schooler has to report for her Operation Christmas Child project, and 5.5 hours before the high schooler meets a study group.  [I explained above about scheduling issues.]

Inevitably, when we go to the photo studio, a family consisting of an infant, toddler and perhaps a couple older children is scheduled ahead of us.  While I've been a parent of an infant and toddler, I find I have much less patience than I did back then.  I want to yell at the parents, "Just get the basic package!  You don't need 475 photos, even if they're different shots and outfits.   Pay your fifteen dollars and get out.  Please!"  Suffering through listening to a mother and father debate whether picture A or B features a better smile on their two year old can be trying. 

I've been a parent for nearly 17 years.  Aside from school pictures, nearly every sports team offers an individual and team shot of your child.  If your child is in band, they'll get photographed in uniform. There are also homeroom class pictures.  And of course, the random shots taken by the novice, but to The Pioneer Woman's blog photo section moms who love to pass out their prints while proudly displaying a toothy grin.  I'm never sure if these ladies want a small stipend to cover printing costs, or they're simply showing off their expertise.  [Yes, it's kind of them to offer their services.]  Since nearly every child age 11 and up now has a cell phone complete with camera, I'm speculating every kid in this country is photographed on the average of once per hour. 

Therefore, there is no need to purchase anything aside from the $15 package offered at the studio.  Your children and mine will be photographed again, most likely before the sun sets.

Since our high schooler will be a senior next year, we'll probably invest in the senior portrait scenario.  So, this could be the last year of the family portrait.  At least the last year that when I call to schedule the appointment and am asked how many adults and how many children, I answer, "Two adults, two kids." The next time around it might be, "Ah, I suppose it will be four adults."  That will probably be the time I have to come up with a different Christmas gift for the grandparents.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

[racing time]

Thank you to whoever is in charge of the Time Change!  I don't know who you are, but it's such a great thing in the fall.  Spring, not so much, as we "lose" an hour.  Would "falling back" twice a year actually throw the earth off its axis, or totally mess up the equilibrium of all things?  Yes, I know it has to do with daylight.  Perhaps you've heard, President Medvedev has announced that Russia will not come off daylight saving time beginning this autumn.  He believes switching clocks twice a year is harmful for people’s health and triggers stress.

So much is said about time.  
           "Time is money."
                         "Time heals all wounds."
                                        "There's a time for every season."
                                                       "I hope you had the time of your life." 
                                                                      "Too much time on your hands."

We're at the point in our family where time races by. A decision about which high school our daughter should attend. Then helping our son choose where to go to college and how to obtain scholarships. One day a long time ago, elementary school seemed like it would take an eternity. 

Join the PTA? 
 Would your child enjoy playing soccer? 
 Let's sit down together and practice piano. 

Now my son is beyond my piano capabilities and has mastered two other instruments, plus is taking AP Music Theory and enjoying it. He will soon be taking music classes taught by people with doctorates (actually, I think he already is). He was once the privileged 4th grader who was allowed to play the pipe organ at the Singletary Center on a class field trip. Now he's the high school drum line section leader and can lead worship. My daughter, who it seems just last week was a chubby little person, now is thin and lovely and shared a pizza a few weeks back with a fellow vegetarian, Hindu classmate, plus said grace over the pizza in front of her peers (yes, in public school). When did they become these people?

We can hold theological discussions with them.  Yet we still have to drive them wherever they need to go.  One of them listens to Adele songs over and over and over.  The other prefers vinyl to cd.  

And I realize, more and more each day, that time remaining can now be measured.  There are 119 days left in this school year.  Then there's one school year left for our boy young man before college.   After 119 days, our sweet daughter will be looking at four years of high school, then off to higher education.

There are 3 middle school band concerts left, with a few jazz concerts thrown in.  There are some major tests to take, some pomp and circumstance, still more lunches to pack than I care to count, a few places to visit - just the four of us, before BOOM!  it's time to say good-bye number one.  Which won't be a forever good-bye.  But it won't be a "see you when you get off the school bus" kind of good-bye.

So attending a UK football game means remembering to create a memory.  Watching home movies circa 2001 make me realize that 10 years fly [really.really.quickly], and our little people aren't so little anymore.  

Our son is on a high school band trip this weekend.  So, my husband is blessed with two females in the house.  We watched "The Last Song" Friday night.  It's a taste of what it'll be like when Jamie heads to college.  Which will be soon.  And it's hard to grasp.

A few people I know have recently had babies.  I look at their photos and think, "You don't realize it, but next thing you know, your sweet baby will be taking the PSAT."  

The best piece of advice I ever received regarding parenting is this:

"You only get 18 summers." 

It's not hard to count how many I have left.  A smattering of holidays, a few birthdays, lessons in doing your own laundry.  And the race will be over.  The 18 summers will be in the rear view mirror.  

I look forward to seeing who these two, once little people, turn out to be.   And meantime, I getting teary eyed, thinking of it.  And I realize, I must.must.must rejoice and be thankful for each day.  

Saturday, November 5, 2011

{friendly gratitude}

Our family is doing "30 Days of Thanks".  It's interesting that today's activity is invite someone you're thankful for over to your home.  The reason it's interesting?  Chip has invited his friend Glenn to today's University of Kentucky football game [] and I've baked Glenn a pumpkin cheesecake for his birthday.  These arrangements were made in honor of Glenn's birthday, without consulting with the 30 Day guide.  It just worked out this way.  

I am thankful for Glenn.  He's been a faithful friend to Chip for a long, long time.  And, he's my friend too.  

I was reminded this week that I have a couple ladies in my life that are call in the middle of the night friends.  What I mean by that is, though I don't see them super regularly, though our schedules don't allow weekly lunch dates, though we don't have frequent casual phone convos. . . . . I know I could call either one of them at 2 a.m. and they'd pray with/for me.  They're wise, they're experienced ministry wives and moms, and they'll give it to me straight.   

So, here's to friends.  Whether they're the ones on Facebook I've known since I was in kindergarten or the people I work with or my best friend Chip who is also my husband. . . 

And here's to Pumpkin Cheesecake!

Pumpkin Cheesecake Recipe

1 ½ cups graham cracker crumbs
1/3 cup butter or margarine, melted
¼ cup sugar

3 pkg. (8 oz each) cream cheese, softened
1 cup sugar
¼ cup packed brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 ¾ cups pumpkin
2/3 cup (5 fl oz can) evaporated milk
2 Tbsp cornstarch
1 ¼ tsp cinnamon
½ tsp nutmeg

Preheat oven to 350 F. 

For crust:
Mix graham cracker crumbs, butter and granulated sugar in medium bowl.  Press onto bottom and 1 inch up side of 9 inch springform pan.  Bake for 6 to 8 minutes (do not allow to brown).  Cool on wire rack for 10 minutes.

For cheesecake:
Beat cream cheese, sugar and brown sugar in large mixer bowl until fluffy.  Beat in eggs, pumpkin and evaporated milk.  Add cornstarch, cinnamon and nutmeg; beat well.  Pour into crust.

Bake for 55 to 60 minutes or until edge is set but center still moves slightly.

Cool in pan on wire rack.  Refrigerate for several hours or overnight.  Remove side of springform pan.  

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

And so it begins. . .

               . . . the holiday season.  Sixty two days: 

November's 30 + December's 31 + January First = 62 days 

I have decided to not be a BAH HUMBUG this year.  While I like Thanksgiving an.awfully.lot, I've grown to not care so much for Christmas.  Well, it's not really that I don't like Christmas, it's that I don't like all the fuss.hoopla.rigmarole that comes along with the celebration of the birth of Christ.  It can easily become what my son would refer to as a "science fair":
  • angry shoppers
  • annoyed drivers
  • obligations to things that aren't important
  • frigid temperatures
  • too much stuff to do!!!
But, I've decided to put my feelings of fear.frustration.anxiety on hold and do my best to enjoy.  There are so many holiday things I like:

looking at lights
making holiday crafts
listening to holiday music
attending holiday music concerts
designing our family Christmas cards
watching holiday movies and tv programs
 j o y

In order to prepare for a Joyful Advent Season, I'm focusing on Thanksgiving, which is one of my favorite holidays.  I'm going through the 30 Days of Thanksgiving with my family. I'm dwelling on this verse:
And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful. ~ Colossians 3:15
I could use some peace.  And could it be any clearer?  "Be thankful."

So here we go.  There are 60 days left.  Here's to . . . .

Monday, October 31, 2011

{preconceived notions}

A  few weeks back I experienced multiple days of wanting to sit in a church like this:

I desired to be all alone, in a quiet, dimly lit sanctuary.  I wanted to feel the presence of God without interruption.  Just to sit.  For about an hour.  Bible along.  No music.  No other people.  Just me staring at stained glass windows.  That would have been great. 

Regular church attendance has been a part of my life as long as I can remember.  If you read my previous blog entry, you know that our family is without a church home.  Which means we have begun the church hunt.  There are a few people in my life who know this, and have recommended churches for us to try.  Which is thoughtful, of course.  It's nice they care.

The first church on our Let's Give These Churches a Try List was a mega church.  And I must confess I walked into their lovely building yesterday with preconceived notions:
  • Their worship music will be more entertaining than participatory
  • Their pastor will throw out a few bible verses, but won't speak directly from scripture
  • They will be fairly self consumed, not aware of what's happening outside their walls
None of these were true.  And the pastor began a new series on JOY.  And guess what?  My word of the day yesterday was. . . . .

Yes, that's right:

Confirmation that this is where we should be long term?  I don't know if I'd go that far.  It might be.  But I realize if nothing else, it is confirmation that yesterday we were in the right place.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

something brand-new

I am an avid reader and sometimes when I finish a book, it's like saying good-bye to a friend.  If the book is really, really good it can be difficult to reach the end.  Or if I read a new book by one of my favorite authors, knowing it could be years before they produce another work, it can be hard to let go.  Returning the book to the library can take a little out of me.  What if the next book I read doesn't measure up?  

I was invited to two reunions in October:  my 25th high school and another related to a music group I was a part of in my hometown.  Chapters that are now closed.  Chapters I can never truly return to, except in memories and visits with others who experienced the chapters with me.  Recently, our family closed a chapter.  Likewise, we won't return to the way things were.  

It's hard to move on.  But move on we must.  Life is all about moving on.  Like the yellow words above, you can't keep re-reading the last chapter.  Well, you can, but you'll never get anywhere.

Sometimes I wonder how many "new days" a person gets in a lifetime.  It seems like I've had my share lately:
job changes
cross town move
kids' school transitions

But. . . . .This is what God says,
   the God who builds a road right through the ocean,
   who carves a path through pounding waves,
The God who summons horses and chariots and armies—
   they lie down and then can't get up;
   they're snuffed out like so many candles:
"Forget about what's happened;
   don't keep going over old history.
Be alert, be present. I'm about to do something brand-new. 
   It's bursting out! Don't you see it?
There it is! I'm making a road through the desert,
   rivers in the badlands.
Wild animals will say 'Thank you!'
   —the coyotes and the buzzards—
Because I provided water in the desert,
   rivers through the sun-baked earth,
Drinking water for the people I chose,
   the people I made especially for myself,
   a people custom-made to praise me.

Isaiah 43:16-21 (MSG)

I have not blogged in quite some time, because for the life of me, I couldn't come up with anything to write. I'd think of things, then decided not to record them. Maybe my thoughts would come across as harsh or mean spirited. Righteous anger? Fears that others won't understand or comprehend? 

So much has happened in the last few weeks: 
Good news was received.  
We're in the height of our son's marching band season. 
We were able to get away for a relaxing weekend.
I've attended two open houses regarding where our daughter will attend high school.
My workplace held its biggest event of the year.
My husband has traveled to visit his parents for the first time in quite some time.
A chapter has ended.


Saturday, October 1, 2011

The More Things Change. . .

I grew up watching the Brady Bunch [and I loved those people].  My sister and I saw every rerun,  many times throughout our childhood.  Persons born in the late 60s or early 70s most likely remember a song the Brady kids sang, featuring Peter (middle son), whose voice was changing:  Time to Change. [youtube is glorious for moments like these!]  The chorus lyrics state,

when it's time to change, you've got to rearrange,
who you are into what you're gonna be.

Really, we need more music like this today, don't you think?  Okay, maybe not. . . . . 

I've been thinking a bunch (I had to use the word bunch, because of the Brady reference above! [get it?]) about change because, well because my life tends to be in a constant change.  Well, maybe not constant, but at least in this sort of repeat cycle.

Two years ago, at this time of year, my husband left his job as a pastor.  Our son was in marching band, not exactly having the time of his life.  Our daughter had just begun middle school, facing the barrage of emotion that brings.

Today my husband has twelve days left in his current position as a pastor.  Our son is in marching band, not exactly having the time of his life.  And. . .our daughter, after successfully navigating through 2+ years of middle school, faces a decision on where to attend high school.  

The more things change. . . . . . . 

Two years ago, at this time of year, my workplace received word that we'd received a federal grant that would keep us operating.  

Yesterday, my workplace (mind you, not the same place as two years ago), received word we received a federal grant that will keep us operating.

The more things change. . . . . . . 

This very week, my wiser than his years son, laid out a plan for his life.  Mind you, he's 16, so the plan didn't cover the next 50 years, but it did cover some pretty significant changes in his life and the direction he believes he's to follow [college choices and majors, career goals, changes in musical instrument focus].   

Also, yesterday, my husband laid out a plan for our family regarding a significant part of our existence.  We haven't had the chance to finalize the plan, or hear each member's feedback, but it's a plan nonetheless.  A plan that if followed, will take us down a new path.  

So maybe, just maybe, we can this time break the mantra. . . .  

The more things change. . . . . . 

Wouldn't it be nice if:

The more things change, the more things stay the same, the better things got?

I like this:

But I think if I could, I'd take out creating yourself and replace it with 
letting God create you.  

A new day is a chance to begin [one more time, with feeling] at the starting point.  

 Isaiah 42 {The Message}
5-9God's Message,
   the God who created the cosmos, stretched out the skies,
   laid out the earth and all that grows from it,
Who breathes life into earth's people,
   makes them alive with his own life:
"I am God. I have called you to live right and well.
   I have taken responsibility for you, kept you safe.
I have set you among my people to bind them to me,
   and provided you as a lighthouse to the nations,
To make a start at bringing people into the open, into light:
   opening blind eyes,
   releasing prisoners from dungeons,
   emptying the dark prisons.
I am God. That's my name.
   I don't franchise my glory,
   don't endorse the no-god idols.
Take note: The earlier predictions of judgment have been fulfilled.
   I'm announcing the new salvation work.
Before it bursts on the scene,
   I'm telling you all about it."

Friday, September 23, 2011

In the midst

This has been a week.  
This has been a week of happenings. 
Some of the happenings I've lived through before.
Some of the happenings I have not lived through before.
And, as the title of this entry states, I am still in the midst of the week, so I choose not to write about the happenings now.  No doubt, someday I probably will.  Maybe next Wednesday.

As for today, I will choose to be joyful and hopeful.  
Joyful because why not be joyful?  Joyfulness is not over-rated.   
Hopeful in the notion that tomorrow is a new day, a new beginning.
I will try to be joyful.  And despite how difficult it can be, I'll strive to be patient.

One day earlier this week, my word of the day was faithfulness.  So I focused on the above verse {Romans 12:12}.  And that very day one of my friends sent out a tweet saying, "today I will. . . " and proceeded to list out the verse.  The Amplified Bible version says, "Rejoice and exult in hope; be steadfast and patient in suffering and tribulation; be constant in prayer."  I like that: be constant in prayer.  

Since I've been [in the midst], it's been good to be constant in prayer.  I don't stop everything, sit down in my closet, focusing for hours on praying.  But I do, throughout the day, think thoughts to God.  It's not an entering in, exiting, then coming back.  It's more of an all the time, always present kind of thing.  

As I await news regarding jobs and finances and school choices and a few other things, I am trying to be "cheerfully expectant" (The Message).  

Cheerfully expectant beats grumpily anxious all to heck.   

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Decisions {part 3}

I've finally gotten around to {part 3} of our saga, aka The Story of Us, aka Chip.&.Deb, aka not so exciting people who sometimes do exciting things. . . . 

Anyway, I'm taking it back to 1990-91, which I remember fondly as our first year of wedlock.  During that school year, my husband Chip finished up college.  I had already graduated.  Because I'm older and therefore wiser.  Actually, I'm only 7 months older, and ended up one grade ahead.  

We had known all along that Chip was not stopping with a mere Bachelor's degree, but would move on through graduate school, and/or seminary, in preparation for vocational ministry.  Conveniently, the school at which we did our undergraduate work offered a Masters in [I can't remember what. . . . religion? ministry? it definitely wasn't forestry] and it seemed like the perfect plan for Chip's next step in academia.  We lived in married student housing, I had a full time job on campus, and most importantly, we were living in San Diego!!!  

But alas, sometime during that school year, we decided this wasn't the plan.  Forgive me for not remembering all the details, but it's been 20+ years ago.  We began looking into other schools, in other places.  Some of which were [gasp for me!] on the other side of the country.  We researched Trinity in the midwest.  We looked into our [then] denominational school in Kansas City.  We considered Fuller in California.  But, we finally decided upon Asbury Theological Seminary in Wilmore, Kentucky.  

And that was our first big decision as a married couple.  I don't know if I realized at the time how life changing of a decision it was.  We would never again live in the "west".  We would eventually have children and raise them, for the most part, in the "south".  We had charted our course, with plans to move across the country and begin a new life of sorts.  Far, far away from everything and everyone I knew and loved.  Except my husband.

This week I noticed something in a picture hanging by my work desk.  

Starry Night Over the Rhone
Vincent van Gogh
I had never really paid any attention to the couple walking by the water [they're hard to see in the above copy].  It's night, it's so dark, yet they're out together, holding onto each other as they walk.  They don't strike me as especially happy, yet not distressed either.  I see them as people who know each other well, and they're not scared to walk through the dark.   There's a little light and that's all they need.  

We have made countless decisions over the years.  Moves, health issues, job changes, home purchases, kids' school choices, on and on.  Some of those decisions have left us physically alone, with no one else to cling to but each other.  Sometimes no one else in the world understands completely and sometimes we don't understand each other completely.  Yet, despite the darkness that is often surrounding, we are together.  

Stay tuned for {part 4}, which will involve the move, culture shock, life in Japanese corporate America, an intro to basketball mania, hello to tobacco farms, and a good-bye to authentic Mexican food for many years.  

Monday, September 5, 2011


Last Friday I had the opportunity to participate in something for the first time:  my workplace has organized prayer walks each Friday of September.  While I've been a part of prayer walks in the past, I wasn't quite sure what to expect at this one.  
  • a big crowd of people marching around (think Joshua and the walls of Jericho)?
  • people shouting, calling on God to do something BIG (think Elijah and the fire)?
  • people chanting bible verses for an hour, while my mind wanders aimlessly (sorry, but sometimes I have a hard time focusing)?
But, none the less, I was excited because the location was less than one mile from my house.  We met at the old Johnson Elementary School.  I say old, because the building is no longer utilized as a school.  I don't think it's utilized for much, and it's my understanding that it will soon be auctioned by the school district.  This location was chosen as a prayer walk site because of its proximity to many of the families we minister to through my workplace.  

I am pleased to share that none of the three bulleted points listed above happened.  A small group of people gathered.  Two that I work with, the former principal of the school, a gentleman from a local church, and a lady who lives in the general area.  The former principal, Pat Michaux, was kind enough to give each of us a copy of a book she wrote:  Memoirs of an Inner City Elementary School Principal.   

I am not so pleased to share that one of my colleagues, actually my supervisor, was solicited by a prostitute.  While one could find some humor in a lady approaching a ministry director in a parking lot at 7:30 in the morning, asking for payment for her services, further analyzation has left me feeling sad about this.  It's disheartening that a woman's life has come to that.  

After meeting for a short prayer together at the front of the school, we separated into smaller groups.  As we walked the neighborhood surrounding the old school, I realized how much I want to be a part of the difference that can be made in this neighborhood.  Technically, I suppose, it's part of my neighborhood, beings it's less than a mile from my home.  I pass down the streets we walked every school day, as I drive my daughter to middle school.  We passed homes of her classmates, homes where hope didn't seem to exist any longer, and homes that were fixed up and cared for.  We passed a market whose story was recently in the news.  We passed near where a police officer was ran over and killed last year.  We saw two churches while we walked, and lots of people out in front of their houses.  

I pulled away from the ex-school on Friday morning, needing to head for my office.  While doing so, I had the overwhelming feeling of hope that one day, the place I'd just left could be my workplace.  When you get out of your car, and take off on foot, you see places up close.  You see  people face to face.  You actually get to say, "Good morning," instead of driving on by.  I felt like I'd once again received a nudging from God, letting me know this is where I belong.  

It's been a while since I've felt that prompt related to my job.  While I'd really like to personally come up with whatever dollar amount Fayette County Public Schools wants for this building, that's probably not going to happen.  While I'd like to arrive there tomorrow and claim a room there as my work space, that's not realistic.  Yet more than before, I desire to not only live where our family lives, but be fully immersed in this part of town.  Maybe I need to go back and take another walk around.  Several times.  

Sunday, August 28, 2011

should've done this a long time ago {part 2}

I decided to not follow a sequential order when recording the history of our family, so please bear with me.  I am skipping approximately 20 years between part 1 and part 2.  But if you read along, I think you'll understand.  

Our home on the south side of Lexington sold in December of 2010.  Our closing was set for February, and we quickly found a house we liked on the north side.  This meant we went from [Life on Lansill] to [Life on Loudon].  

During the process of buying and selling, our home inspections were a bit stressful.  The house we moved out of was built in the 1960s, and had entered that stage where much could use an upgrade.  I honestly wasn't sure it would pass inspection.  The house we moved into was built in 1910, leaving open a wide realm of possible problems.  

If you've ever sold or purchased a home, you know the anxiety involved.  Your buyer could back out.  You could get laid off work the day before closing.  Lightening could strike both homes, leaving you out on the street. . .  

One day as I was pulling out of my workplace parking lot, I had an overwhelming sense that everything was going to work out.  Despite all the possibilities that something could go wrong, I felt God was telling me:
It's all going to be okay.  This is what you should have done a long time ago.  
My mind went back to a conversation.  [see previous entry and you'll understand]  I really felt God was showing me we were finally doing what we were supposed to do.  Maybe I was a little late getting to it, but better late than never.  We were moving across town to immerse ourselves in our community.  Instead of moving to the "outside" we were moving in.  

Please don't think I'm bragging, or saying, "Look at us.  We're the family that moved to the not so nice part of town."  Well, maybe that is what I'm saying, but I don't mean it in a "preachy" sort of way.  It's what we were called to do years ago, and for whatever reason, we're just now getting around to it.  Is that MY fault?  Maybe.  Did I need a lot more experiences before I was ready?  Probably.  But here we are.  Doing what we should've done a long time ago.  And there's no time like the present.  Literally.  So now, I suppose, we're doing what we're supposed to be doing today.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

the call {part 1}

A phone call was our family's origin.  Actually, it was a series of phone calls.  My husband Chip [before he was my husband] called me and asked me to go to Balboa Park with him. We were in college in San Diego.  I said, "yes."  We agreed upon the day, time, etc.  A few days later he called back, leaving a message at my dorm front desk saying he wanted to reschedule, due to circumstances a friend of his had experienced [drugs, getting kicked out of school, the usual type stuff at a Christian college].  I called back and said "no" I think we should go ahead as planned.  He decided after a few calls back and forth that he would like to go through with the date, and BOOM!, two days later we were married.  [not really. . . . we went on the date and a year and a half later we were married].  Before any of those calls took place, Chip called one of his professors.  I answered the phone because I worked part time in that department.  Rumor had it that Chip was interested in getting to know me, yet he hadn't yet.  I introduced myself over the phone.  I think it frightened Chip a bit. . . .   

Hopefully all of the above phone calls 
weren't too confusing for you, the reader.  

I already knew, before going on that date to Balboa Park, that Chip's life plan was ministry.  There had been an article about him in our school newspaper.  It was rather dramatic, but I, being young, found it riveting.  [not that I wouldn't find it riveting today]  So, it was clear from the get-go.  Get involved with this guy, your life will go a certain direction.  

A while later in our dating relationship, Chip and I had the opportunity to hear Tony Campolo speak at our college.  I can't remember much about what Tony said, but I remember the conversation Chip and I had afterward.  Chip revealed his heart felt desire to reach out to the needy, the poor, the homeless.  In other words, he didn't plan to lead a congregation of average, lackadaisical, well-off Americans.  We had this particular conversation in a car.  I can't tell you how many times I've reflected back on this, thinking I should have gotten out of that car and walked away.   A life in ministry is one thing.  A life ministering to those who are struggling, hungry, distressed, poor, etc., is quite another.  I honestly felt that the sacrifice of giving yourself in service for others, even if they aren't in dire need was enough.  At least enough for me.  But I stayed in the car.  And most of the time, I've been happy I did.

Many, many years [I don't feel compelled to tell how many] later, I realize I made the right decision.  My call was and is to be with Chip.  And if Chip's call is ministry, that's my call too. It's like a math problem:

If a=b, and b=c, then a=c

Really, it all comes back to the call.  Not a phone call, but the call God has placed on our lives.  

This completes {part 1} of the Monck family history.   Stay tuned, more will follow.

Friday, July 29, 2011


When I entered the word discipline into, these are the words listed as antonyms:  

Chaos?  I don't want any of that in my life.
Confusion?  I'm usually confused enough, thanks.
Disorder and disorganization. . . . . . . Let's remove the prefix "dis" and I'll be good.
Neglect.  Am I neglecting things?  Of course. . . 
Negligence.  That sounds worse than neglect.
Permissiveness.  Have I let myself get permissive with myself?  That's a lot to think about! Yet when I ask myself if I've been permissive with myself, myself says, "Don't be so hard on yourself."  So I guess I am permissive.  And [see above] now confused.

Discipline can be a rather ugly word.  And it's hard to apply to oneself, because honestly, who wants to be hard on oneself?  Other people can be hard enough on us.  But it's a word I've been thinking on a lot lately.  One of my favorite books is Celebration of Discipline by Richard J. Foster.  I read it years ago, a couple of times.  I probably should just continuously read it, over.and.over.and.over.  Because it's helpful and it's applicable and it's good. 

When I look at the synonyms for discipline, the one that sticks out like crazy is:

Self-control can be difficult.  Maybe it's not for you, but it is for me.  At least regarding some things. Self-control is one of my {words to live by}.  It takes self-control to motivate oneself to exercise and to not eat way too much brownie batter and to go to bed before midnight.  Yet it also takes self-control to keep my mouth shut when it's best to be quiet and it takes self-control to not let anxiety get the best of me when I wonder if my workplace's funding will come through  [once again I'm in the midst of a workplace situation where the feds decided to cease the funding].

Discipline is what I need when I want to take all our money out of an atm, pick up the family, retrieve our passports, and head for Timbuktu [or Prague] via Blue Grass Airport.  Okay, maybe that's not so much discipline as a firm grasp of reality.  Yet, despite my motivation to run with my daughter as we prepare for a 5K, and my practice of cleaning our bathroom once a week, I need more [much more] discipline in my life.  

I want to:
  • spend time with God 
  • make time to write
  • walk my dog
  • say "good-bye" to tv and "hello" to more books
  • stop eating processed food, fast food, unhealthy food, etc. [I'm still new at the vegetarian thing]
  • sit on my front porch
  • pursue relationships with people [some particular people; not ALL people]
  • exercise on a regular basis
  • do yoga 
I confess I was once much better at leading a disciplined life.  But stuff has gotten in the way.  So I'll push it aside and become more of who I want to be.

And I'll remember the above saying, striving to "do" what's important and impactful, but not strive to do everything.  Because striving to do everything/be everything/permit everything is the recipe for:


Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The Great Compromise

The Great Compromise happened in 1787, had to do with representation under the new US Constitution, and although I have an interest in history, is not the central thought of my entry today.  {I hope that wasn't a run on sentence, yet I believe it was.}  I simply felt it made for a good title and my thoughts today are consumed with the word [compromise]. 
The word compromise seems to represent something positive, a working together, a meeting half way.  Yet when I read some of the following synonyms to compromise, I shudder a bit:
accommodation, accord, arrangement, bargain, concession, copout, happy medium, middle ground, pact, trade-off and sellout  
Copout?  That's not a pleasant word.  Sellout?  Are some of my compromises sellouts?  I hope not.  Yet where should I draw the line between what I want to do, what I'm expected to do, and what I need to do?  

I often feel like it's me versus the world.   Not like the world is out to get me.  But that something is always competing for my time.  Often it's not something negative.  It's just the normal life stuff:  work, school events, church events, grocery shopping, housecleaning, taking a shower (which, if I stopped doing could save me ample time each week).  Then there's the stuff I desire to do:  spend more time with family, get to know my neighbors, make handcrafted jewelry, write more blog entries, visit the British Isles (not going to happen this year), etc.  

So I start to ask myself questions like. . . . .
  • How does one balance the desire to be with one's family with working a full time job?  
  • How does one balance the dream of taking an overseas mission trip with family yet only having a limited amount of allotted time off?  
  • How does one balance working in a field you're "called" to, yet not receiving a salary that provides for health care?   
  • How does one balance between being called to live in a specific place [which I believe wholeheartedly we are] and not seeing extended family often?
  • How does one balance providing stylish clothing for a 13 year old girl while maintaining a budget and attempting to keep her content?
  • How does one balance her needs with the needs of others she loves?  Do I "sellout" to self or try the compromise route? 

I realize life is made up of choices, yet sometimes I don't know if choices are always really....... choices.  How often do we do something because we are required to?  It's part of the plan, part of what has to get accomplished, or at least someone's perception of what has to get accomplished.  So much time is spent on. . . . nothing substantial.

And I've come to realize that the more hours I work outside the home, the more store bought bread I buy.  Hang with me on this.  I like to bake bread, and while Kroger makes a good baguette, I'd much rather bake my own.  And my family likes it when I bake my own.  Which brings me to a compromise.  I now work full time, therefore baking bread is no longer a regular occurrence.  And on certain days, instead of dwelling on how thankful I am for the income I generate, I dwell on the {not so positive} synonyms for compromise, i.e. copout and sellout.  Even the word concession isn't comforting.  Because I'm not so sure I like the choice I've made.  Yet, it's the inevitable choice when you have two teenagers, one two years from college.  Or is it, if I'm willing to sacrifice buying potato chips (and a heck of a lot of other unnecessary things)?

I suppose this relates back to my previous post, Who I Am. I continue to contemplate if the Shakespeare line, "To thine own self be true" is a positive personal mission statement.  The bible says to pick up your cross daily. . . . to deny yourself.  Yet doesn't it also describe us as God's masterpiece?  Does God want us to feel compromised, torn, accommodating yet not content?  Is personal disharmony more spiritually appealing than happiness?  Does that have to be a compromise too?  Maybe I've missed something somewhere along the line.  Maybe I'm a rebel who doesn't want to compromise.  Maybe I'm selfish or unreasonable or unrealistic.  Or maybe I've grown tired of concession.  Or maybe (and I mean this) I need to join a punk band featuring middle aged moms.  Besides, I've been seriously contemplating getting my nose pierced for my 43rd birthday (which is 8/7).  

Step with care and great tact and remember that 
life's a great balancing act. ~ Dr. Seuss