Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Taking my blog back

Yeah, it's Cub back again. The Typist gets all reflective and stuff sometimes and I just have to let her do her thing, but she's done now.

Today is my birfday!
(I have no idea what that means, besides that The Boy and I got to have Frosty Paws after supper.) They sang at me and everything.

I'm seven.
(I don't know what that means, either.)

After I finished my Frosty Paws and The Boy finished his, we licked each other's Frosty Paws cups to make sure nobody missed anything. Turns out we are very good at eating Frosty Paws.

Of course, what else would you expect from Very Good Dogs?

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Church fatigue

Went on a little Google hunt this evening. First, church fatigue. Results were mostly stuff about people visiting too many European cathedrals in the same vacation...sounded more like architecture fatigue to me.

Then I tried "church fatigue" -- in quotes -- and found this post from a guy in France I've never read before. He touches on what I'm feeling lately in his opening paragraph:
“Every church member who loves the church will also be deeply pained by it. This does not, however, call for discarding the church, but for reforming and renewing it.” This quote so reflects my thinking about the Church at the moment that I thought I’d share it with you. It comes from Transforming Mission by D. J. Bosch.
Thing is, I'm totally on board with reforming and renewing. But I feel like I have few reliable companions in the effort, at least within my own local community of faith.

When I was on church staff, we studied church growth patterns and discovered we were a textbook case of many churches our size -- stuck at a plateau. And, for various reasons, we're still stuck there. From my angle, one of the reasons we're stuck is that people keep discarding our congregation (I realize the textbook above posits a pretty solid theory as to why this happens, but the fact remains: it happens). I've seen a lot of people come and go at my local church, which bothers me. It also bothers me that I've let that very thing bother me for years...the going, especially.

My view leaves me bitter, and thus less able to be a reformer, a renewer, a co-creator with God.

There are inspired and dedicated people in our congregation working hard at effective mission and ministry. On my better days, I believe I'm one of them, and I see the difference we're making in the name of Christ. On my worse days, I make a mental list of families who've transferred to larger congregations in other suburbs (and where we live, there are plenty from which to choose while still remaining in the UMC). And on my absolute worst days, I wonder if I could back off and be one of those people who devotes just an hour a week to Christianity and thinks that's more than enough.

Where am I tonight? Well, I guess I'm somewhere between worse and worst. But more than anything, I'm just so flippin' tired.

So, I'd better go get some sleep, because I certainly won't get it tomorrow... Wednesdays are rehearsal nights, after all, and Easter's coming.

Please, Lord, let Easter be coming. Within me.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Friday Five: Rivers in the Desert

I am about to do a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert. Isaiah 43:19, NRSV

From Songbird over at RevGalBlogPals:
As we near the end of the long journey toward Easter, a busy time for pastors and layfolk alike, I ponder the words of Isaiah and the relief and refreshment of a river in the desert.

For this Friday Five, name five practices, activities, people or _____ (feel free to fill in something I may be forgetting) that for you are rivers in the desert.

The Typist here, playing alone today. (Unless Cub's at the vet, she pretty much lives in the "river..." and I pray her desert days are few and far between!)

So, my rivers in the desert:

1. The Alpha. I can hardly believe I've known him for half my life now. And been married to him for a third of my life. He's such a blessing.

2. Both dogs. Cub and Angus (aka The Boy) are basically comfort and happiness covered in fur (which they shed all over the house with reckless abandon, but that's beside the point).

3. RevGals. There's something precious about clicking on any of our huge list of blogs and enjoying a pleasant distraction (Mindy, her Weinermobile sighting, and the hilarious lead-in story), finding a need for prayer (a round of diagnostic tests for Elastigirl's the worrier), or receiving a prompt for spiritual reflection (Cheesehead's meditation on John 12:1-8)... and honestly, it doesn't matter which one of those it is. The connection is what matters.

4. Going out to eat. It's a frivolity, yes, but one that can feed me in multiple ways... allows a little break from the ordinary and the opportunity for face-to-face conversation. And it's less of a frivolity when viewed in the context of "table fellowship." I've taken a dip in this river more often than usual this week.

5. Yoga. In January, a dear church friend who is a newly-certified instructor began offering yoga sessions. Sometimes it's difficult to mentally take "this hour just for you," as she says, but even if I'm not totally into it, it helps me get a sense of renewal. (An example of not being totally into it: this week, during the meditation that ends the hour, she was leading us through a scene at a lake. In the scene, a flock of geese landed among tree stumps sticking up out of the water. One of the members of my imagined flock was he who we know as our Goose... The Boy, Angus. Our Australian Cattle Dog, who in real life occasionally does think he can fly, descended with the Canada Geese and perched uncertainly on a tree stump, giving his little honk-like whine that led to us adding Goose to his list of nicknames. It was difficult to not burst out laughing in the midst of my relaxing meditation, but at the same time, the visual was so perfect!)

Friday, March 16, 2007

Friday Five: Whatcha doin'?

From Reverend Mother at RevGalBlogPals:
Well friends, this is one of those weeks when I simply must work today, which is normally my day off. I know, I know. We may tut-tut all we want, but the fact is, some weeks are like that. So, this week's F5 is simple. Name five things you plan to do today.

The Typist and I are playing together today. Here's what we're doin':

Typist: Work from home. Friday is my telecommuting day.
Cub: Nap on my couch. Did you know I have my own couch?

Typist: Pick up a refill of one of Cub's prescriptions.
Cub: Hang out in the backyard while The Typist is gone.

Typist: Greet friend Doc, who is coming in from out of town later.
Cub: Doc? Coming over? Dogs LOVE Doc! I'll lick him as long as he'll let me!

Typist: Recommend a friend for the Peace Corps. Just submitted it online!
Cub: Chase The Boy. It's a daily discipline.

Typist: Go to a concert... I hope. I haven't bought the tickets yet, and it doesn't start until past my bedtime.
Cub: Patrol the perimeter.

Bonus: If today is about "have-to" for you as well, share up to five things you'd like to be doing today.

Typist: I'm pretty happy with today for what it is, but I always like the opportunity to have lunch with a friend. Which probably won't happen today.
Cub: You know, I haven't gone for a swim in a while. That would be fun!

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Living my Friday Five

So, yeah, The Typist here again. After I played the Friday Five last week, guess what I did?
  • Friday night I had Item 5. (Ever the practical one, I made sure I had short fingernails first. You don't want sauce getting trapped under your nails.)
  • Saturday morning at 10 a.m. I indulged in Item 1. (Highlight in the self-care department... I actually signed up for a membership!)
  • Saturday for lunch I finished of what was left of my stock of Item 3. (Australian Cheddar, to commemorate the heritage of The Boy.)
  • Saturday afternoon at 3 I had Item 2. (The Alpha only held his ears for about 4 of the songs -- including the trash can number which was flippin' sweet! He agreed, but thought it was still too loud.) And I might get to have it again this Friday!
  • Sunday night I enjoyed Item 4. (An introduction to a lovely variety known as Bootlegger, thanks to a gift from the friend who joined us Friday night for Item 5.)

In summary, Yay! Cool weekend. Wheee!

I close this post with a note that will please Cub...
Coming up this weekend: Doc.
Dogs. LOVE. Doc.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Friday Five: Matters of Taste

The Typist here, playing along with Songbird over at RevGalBlogPals:

My mother loved figs.
I only like them in a Newton.
It's all a matter of taste.

Name five things you like a lot that some close relative or significant other did/does not like. This could be food, movies, hobbies, music, sports or whatever springs to mind.

1. Getting massages. The Alpha has never had a professional massage, and doesn't really care to try one.

2. Live music. His ears are so sensitive that he has to take earplugs to pretty much any live venue (except church). When I convinced him to see Trout Fishing in America last year, I had a blast while he had a headache. He does enjoy music, as long as he can control the volume on the CD player.

3. Gourmet cheeses. When I buy a bit of extra-special cheese from Whole Paycheck, he pretty much never wants a taste of it. And when he does accept a bite, he's seldom impressed.

4. Beer. Qualifying statement: I pride myself in being a beer snob. I refuse most domestic lagers, even if someone else is paying, because if you can see through it, chances are it's not worth the calories it contains. I've even played with homebrewing, and wound up with a nice little nut-brown ale. The Alpha appreciates a medium-bodied ale for including in his latest chili recipe, but never for drinking.

5. Ribs. I absolutely love a good slab of ribs, but he thinks they're too much trouble. So, he finishes his chopped beef sandwich and spends the rest of his time at the table grinning at me while I gnaw on bones. Thankfully, he thinks it's cute.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Weekend Dose of Cuteness

Okay, so it's actually last weekend's cuteness. But we're showing it off to you this weekend.

Here's The Boy letting puppy Jolene win.
He let her win a lot. In fact, he's pretty big on letting everybody win. Such a good sport at being bottom-of-the-pack, that Boy. I just wanna contribute something to the team, he says.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Friday Five: Artsy Craftsy

The Typist here, playing the Friday Five from Reverend Mother over at RevGalBlogPals:

During Lent here at Suburban Presbyterian Church, we are exploring the creative and liturgical arts, with classes and speakers dealing with storytelling, iconography, dance, visual art, writing, and so on. The theme is "A Beautiful Thing," inspired by the story of the woman anointing Jesus and his declaration that "She has done a beautiful thing for me." (Mark 14, NIV) We are working on the notion that everything we do can be considered a beautiful thing--a creative offering to God--whether it's gardening or scrapbooking or accounting or sorting clothes at the clothes closet or child-rearing. And so:

1. Would you call yourself "creative"? Yep. Why or why not? I let my dog have a blog, don't I? ...but seriously, folks, I find expression and satisfaction in music, dance, writing, and my newest crafty pursuit, knitting.
2. Share a creative or artistic pursuit you currently do that you'd like to develop further. I'm keenly aware that the more I sing, the more I can do with my voice, so I plan to keep that up. Being in the worship band (in addition to choir, which I've always done) has given me opportunities that I wouldn't have had otherwise. Plus, it's lots of fun and there's great collaboration and flexibility in how we do things.
3. Share a creative or artistic pursuit you have never done but would like to try. Well, a few months ago I would've said knitting, but now I'm doing that. Probably playing violin, though I know I wouldn't be able to get far with all of my other commitments in the way.
4. Complete this sentence: "I am in awe of people who can play musical instruments well, especially guitar, violin, and piano. I don't have the discipline to do that."
5. Share about a person who has encouraged your creativity, who has "called you to your best self." (I'm pretty sure that's from the Gospel of Oprah.) My dear sweet bandmate Julie, who has an absolutely amazing voice and has served as a mentor to me not only in singing, but also in other crafty-type pursuits like texturing my dining room walls.