Wednesday, May 28, 2008
Friday, May 23, 2008
I'm on the planning team for WOW: The School of Congregational Development for The United Methodist Church in New England - November 6-8, 2008.
It's going to be a great event!
Thursday, May 22, 2008
Son #1: Mommy, where are you sitting?
Mother, pointing to her seat on the other side of the aisle: I'm sitting over here.
Son #1: Over there with that old lady?
Everyone nearby: embarrassed laughter.
Wednesday, May 21, 2008
For tonight I just have to say Midwest Airlines is the best! They call their signature service "the best care in the air." Three things did it for me:
- extra wide leather seats, making for plenty of room
- Dr. Pepper on the menu
- complimentary ooey, gooey, warm chocolate chip cookies, baked on the plane! Does it get any better than that?
Friday, May 16, 2008
Since last fall, we've been meeting weekly with a group of leaders of the congregation, to continue this discernment process and to get serious about articulating a vision for a new and very different kind of ministry in Portland. We've met with city leaders, pastors and leaders of other churches, and leaders of social service organizations. We've gone on several field trips to visit the sites of other organizations doing work to care for people in need, both within and beyond Portland. It's been an exciting process.
After months of researching needs and opportunities for ministry within the city, in February we identified the neighborhood where where we feel led to sink down some roots. It happens to be the most densely populated square mile in the State of Maine - a neighborhood of mostly several-family homes and apartments, some of them in serious need of renovation, many of them rented out by landlords who live in other parts of the city or even out of state. It's a neighborhood with a reputation for drug use and trafficking, as well as prostitution and domestic violence -- all of which are still present, but expressed in more subtle ways than they used to be. Since it is the most affordable neighborhood in the city, it tends to be one of the places where recent immigrants and those who are recently homeless settle, but residents also tend to be very transient, moving on when they can afford to go elsewhere. It's also a neighborhood where students and some young professionals have chosen to live, and where a neighborhood center and a community policing program have had a very positive impact. Our vision for ministry in this neighborhood is taking shape, and although we have a lot of work to do to implement the vision - including talking more with people who live in the neighborhood to determine if our vision really meets a need they feel - we are hopeful and excited to get on the ground.
Yesterday at our weekly meeting of the team, an 82-year-old woman who's a relatively new member of the church and an active member of this team, said, "I've been praying that I live long enough to see this vision become a reality, because this is the first time in my life that I've ever felt called to something."
How powerful is that? We had a great discussion about that sense of being called, and I've been living with that comment ever since. Wow. God is good!
Thursday, May 15, 2008
Monday, May 12, 2008
Yes, fiddleheads - a Maine tradition! Not quite Maine lobster, but almost as popular with some people! Here's what VeganYumYum has to say about fiddleheads:
Fiddlehead ferns are one of spring’s most elusive goodies. The are available for about three weeks in May (as in right this second), and are generally harvested in the northeastern United States. A fiddlehead is the tip of an unfurling Ostrich Fern frond, quickly snapped off with the flick of the wrist by professional foragers in the wild. If you see some growing in the woods near you, take care. There are many other ferns that resemble the Ostrich Fern, some of which are considered to be carcinogenic, like the Bracken Fern. Unless you have a guide with you, leave the collecting to the professionals and pick some up at Whole Foods. They cost $6 a pound in Boston.I wish I liked fiddleheads more. They're okay, but I'm not one of those people you'll find scouring the sides of roads this time of year. But then again, they're only available during a short window of time each year, and once a year is just about perfect for me...
Their flavor is mild, and perhaps most closely resembles asparagus, and asparagus is the best substitute for the ferns. Some also say they are similar to green beans and
artichokes. They are pleasently crunchy with a nutty, slightly bitter bite, which is why you’ll see so many fiddlehead recipes calling for butter and salt. Treat the fiddleheads like asparagus tips and you can’t go wrong. If you really want a treat, serve them up with some morel mushrooms; their season coincides almost exactly with the ferns and they pair well.
Sunday, May 11, 2008
I'm thankful to have a mother who is loving and generous in every way, and who has passed on her crazy sense of humor to the rest of our wacky family!
Wednesday, May 07, 2008
And I just have to say, that is the best thing I've heard all day! Music to my ears!!
Tuesday, May 06, 2008
One of the most meaningful exercises, for me, was time spent in a group of three, reflecting on an issue we're dealing with in our leadership, through what is called a Clearing Committee - a Quaker tradition. It goes like this:
- Silence (1 min.)
- Focus person speaks (4 min.)
- Clarifying questions - focus person responds (1 min.)
- Silence (1 min.)
- Questions and comments - focus person does not respond; someone in the group records (7 min.)
- Prayer (2 min.)
- Transition to the next focus person (1 min.)
I found it incredibly helpful to reflect in a very focused way, confined by clear parameters of time within a prayerful, supportive, reflective space; and then to receive not suggestions or advice, but questions and comments, to which I could not respond, but which invited me to further reflection. The idea is that the wisdom comes not from those in the group who have advice to share, but from within the person dealing with the issue, and from God.
I need to spend some time thinking about how this exercise might have application in my ministry. I think there are some real possibilities. The Clearing Committee -- sometimes called Circle of Trust -- invites spiritual groundedness when dealing with leadership issues.
How could you imagine utilizing the Clearing Committee in your ministry, workplace, church, organization, or family?
Monday, May 05, 2008
Friday, May 02, 2008
- Sara and I spent a good part of the day outside. We raked the back yard (last week I raked the front) and uprooted a few thousand tiny maple trees that have sprung up everywhere. Then we spent a couple of hours removing sod and tilling soil, preparing some spots to the left and right of our front walk where we'll eventually plant some flowers and herbs. It feels really good to get your hands in the dirt!
- I've been watching pieces of the live stream of General Conference now and then, and I have to say, I find the whole thing quite puzzling. Petition 81,000-something-or-other... Calendar item 1100-and-then-some... page 2,149 in the DCA... I'm sure all that is really important stuff, but I do have to wonder, did God intend for the church to become a bureaucracy? And I wonder.... Whom would Jesus exclude, really? Is there hope for our church? What would we need to do differently to truly focus on being the Body of Christ, seeking first the Kingdom of God?
- Tomorrow we're participating in a Potato Planting Party, sponsored by Cultivating Community, an organization that uses gardening to empower youth and then donates the vegetables it harvests to low-income families and elderly persons living in public housing, who otherwise might not have locally grown, organic produce.
- Sunday is my grandfather's 92nd birthday, and we're headed to his birthday party following worship. I don't recall that I've ever been with him on his birthday. Should be a good time.
- We went out for ice-cream tonight with friends. Mmmmm...