Friday, July 28, 2006

Friday 5: Feelin' Hot Hot Hot

1. What's the high temperature today where you are?
92 tomorrow and sticky. But probably no rain to make it really steamy.

2. Favorite way(s) to beat the heat.
Iced coffee, lemonade, air conditioning!
We didn't have air conditioning when I was a kid. On hot, no-air-moving nights we'd put damp washclothes on our feet.

3. "It's not the heat, it's the humidity." Evaluate this statement.
Its BOTH. Ick!

4. Discuss one or more of the following: sauna, hot tub, sweat lodge, warm-stone massage.
I really don't know anything about these things. Hot tubs sound like a winter thing to me.

5. Hottest you've ever been in your life.
I lived in south Georgia, below the "gnat line" for two years. Families without air conditioning lived at that library in the summer. I remember poor little children taking their naps in the picture book area.

Non-temperature related bonus: In your opinion... who's hot?
Hubby, naturally!
In the celebrity world...John Cusack is my favorite...since Say Anything.

An aside

These past few posts are mine alone and many things have been left out. Hubby's call story is his own and he has been invited to share it here when and if he wants to.
Today is our sad day.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

My Religious History (Part4)

Did you know that there was a mini-Baby Boom in 2002? Many people, shaken by the events of September 11 th, presumably, re-evaluated their lives and decided to start a family. I guess we were a part of that.

Everyone tells you how hard and awful pregnancy is -how terrible you feel, how tired, you get puffy and your feet swell and then, of course there's labor! So I felt terrible. I didn't know I wasn't supposed to feel that terrible. Or when the whole puffiness thing was supposed to happen.

Week 26 - We went away to the beach for the 4th of July week with some friends who were also expecting (and our jet-setter friend too.) On July 4th I felt completely awful and had a terrible tightening pain across my chest. At Hubby's insistence I called my OB/GYN from the beach, just as we put the hamburgers on the grill. Dr. Pope said she'd really like me to go to the local hospital and get checked out. Tiny resort town hospital checked me out and talked to my doctor in Atlanta and decided that we should drive straight through to our hospital in Atlanta - no stopping. Wonderful Hubby drove through the night, I laid on my left side in the back of our station wagon. We arrived very early in the morning and I was admitted.

I have to say that all of this was very fuzzy, I was very sick. Its called HELLP syndrome and its a relative of pre-eclampsia. Basically high blood pressure was squeezing my liver and untreated means seizures, coma, death. The treatment is to deliver the baby.

The doctors looked through the ultrasound and asked if we knew what the gender was. We had wanted to know but this baby, whom we'd nicknamed Momotaro (the Peach Boy) was bashful and always had its legs closed. "Well, you've had so many bad surprises today, I let you have this good surprise later". As they prepped me for an Emergency C-section, Hubby and I decided on a name, prayed, kissed and cried.

When I returned from the c-section Lillian was in the level 3 NICU. I was on heavy anti-seizure medication and was unable to see her for several days. She was 1 lb. 9 oz. but holding her own.
And Hubby was my rock.

I got better, went home and pumped milk for her. We were lucky in that we only lived 7 miles away so we could go visit her. She lived in her Isolet for three weeks before her tiny body was wracked by an infection. The nurse baptised her and then our pastors came and baptised her again and anointed her with oil. She died. We got to hold her for the first time. And we went home without our baby. That was four years ago, tomorrow.

Its interesting how different people react to such a thing. Hubby was glad to have me and to have had some time with our daughter. We had learned a lot about her in those three weeks. She had eyelashes and fingernails, dark hair like me, was feisy and kicked her tiny feet. She could wear his wedding ring as a bangle bracelet. He threw himself into work and into church.

I was numb and sad and angry. Where do you direct your anger? Where do you place blame? Maybe at the doctors who maybe should have seen how badly my pregnancy was going (wonderful doctors, I don't blame them)? Perhaps I was at fault since my health was not optimal to have a baby (but women of all shapes and sizes get HELLP)? No, I directed my anger at God.

But you have to believe in Him to be angry with Him, don't you? We went to church each week (Hubby insisted) and I cried through the service. I went to a support group and to grief counseling. Someone suggested the Lamentation Psalms. I went back to work and found a substitute for my Lapsit Baby program. Fall passed, my friend had her healthy baby girl, Advent arrived. I never realized how powerful Advent is until that year. Advent is about the anticipation of a child, but not just a child. It is the anticipation of a great hope.

Hubby started to attend night classes that spring at the local seminary. I joined the PW and a pottery class at the Rec department. We were table parents at Church Night and did the kid's Lenten classes. Hubby started to talk about seminary, I started to talk about a new baby. And we prayed.

My Religious History (Part 3)

We left small town Georgia for Big Town Georgia. Well, alright, we moved to the Metro-Atlanta area. Hubby worked for the Feds and I worked for the local Library system that doesn't win big awards but it doesn't lose huge lawsuits either. Had a great little library that I managed in a great area. Love that town!

We'd lived in our apartment about 6 months and were doing just fine until Oscar night. I love to watch the big award shows...its part of the my horrible celebrity gossip habit. I watched the whole thing and it goes really late each year. Got up to go to bed about 2 hours later than usual and noticed it was hazy in the apartment. Hubby opened some windows and noticed that it was hazy outside too. He went outside and discovered the roof was on fire. He starts yelling for everyone to get out and luckily everyone did. Luckily a man in the neighborhood behind the apartment complex was out walking his dog and heard Hubby yelling "Call 911" and called the fire department immediately.

There were 4 apartments. The college students and their "visiting" dog were the only ones who had no insurance. The African-American couple had only moved in two days before and above us was a young Indian couple. Most of their apartment burned, except for their bedroom closet, which was where their papers and passports were. Our apartment didn't burn but was flooded with hundreds of gallons of smoky water. We weren't allowed back in for three days, because of structural concerns, and the mildew had set in and our post-college plyboard furniture had sucked up as much water as it could. Electronics were waterlogged and dangerous. So we lost things but we were safe, our neighbors were safe, even the pets. Thats what's important.

My co-workers turned out to help us. Our community turned out to help us. And we went looking for a church. A wonderful woman at the library invited us to church - Gently, so gently but more than once, until I mentioned it to Hubby. It was a Presbyterian church and it was close, friendly and "in the community ". So we went as anonymously as we could, the new children's librarian and her husband. We stayed for coffee. WE brought something to the potluck. Soon we had an appointment with the pastor to I wasn't sure I could join a church as conflicted as I was about God, Jesus, the Pope and sin. I wasn't sure I wanted to "join" at all. I mean can't you just go to church? Do you have to be a member? Hubby insisted on this point and the Pastor, wonderful man, answered every question. Even the strange ones. (Like, can I still like the Pope? What about Mary? Predesti-what?) And I felt reassurred and I decided to join too. Although the session meeting I had to attend to be accepted gave me pause I'll tell you. Scripture reading, hymn singing (a capella from the hymnal? Come on folks, I just joined!) bible study, and then a long business meeting? But, that seems to be the way Presbyterians do it. Decently and in the order of the very long agenda.

I was asked if would teach children's Sunday school. I asked if I had to and was told to pray about it. Hmmm. That seemed like an awfully strange suggestion to me. I declined, knowing that I was the last person they should ask. Yes I was good with kids, but that didn't mean I was a good representative of faith, right? So we went to church all that summer, until wonderful Pastor felt another call. Darn him. And the interim wasn't as comfortable and we weren't bonded enough with the rest of the congregation to "hang in there with them." So we worshipped at Bedside Baptist or Our Lady of Peaceful Slumber or what ever you've heard it called.

Until our tragedy.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

My Religious History (Part 2)

I met him in college. He was Presbyterian and although he didn't attend the University church often...he did attend. His family was very involved in church, his mother was an elder. Going to church with his family was very different. Not formal and all-eyes-on-you unwelcoming. Not un comfortably unchurchy. Not frighteningly quiet (How do those Quakers do it?).
Everyone was friendly and enjoyed catching up with each other. They welcomed me yes, but they welcomed each other too. I'll admit I giggled when I saw the tray of little cups of grape juice (grape juice and real bread!). They had a woman pastor! They prayed what was in their hearts aloud. I wasn't ready to give up my non-religion though.

If asked at that time, I may have said that I was spiritual, not religious. (Ugh) What I meant by that was thatI believed in God and I prayed. I believed fervently that there was some great plan of God's that made things make sense somehow from afar. My parents divorce was horrible and has had ripple effects through my life, but I was able to look at it in my teens with new eyes. My parents were as different as night and day. I have no doubt that they loved each other at one time. But my father is quiet, neat, hermit-like but with a wicked sense of humor. My mother is bubbly, social, always working on three projects at once and doesn't get his humor (I should know, I inherited it). Once I figured that out, I realized that God had a plan for me, because he had brought these two wonderful different people together to have me and my sister.

So I believed and I prayed. Our Father and Hail Mary were the ones I knew, so those were the ones I said. And I had some religious role models, those three nun-aunts. The most influential of them was Sister Eulalia (nee' Kitty). There are many stories about her and I wish to do them justice in their own posts but I will say that she visited each summer for several weeks and took care of our little single parent family. She brought me foreign coins from her travels and said her rosary while walking around the tree in the backyard (or the dining room table when it rained) and always wore her full habit. And she sent us advent calendars every year. And she was kind and powerful and mysterious and exotic. And she had a very special relationship with God. I think she would have loved Hubby.

Hubby and I got married while we were in grad school. We married in the big University Presbyterian Church right after Christmas and went to live in South Georgia while he finished school. If college had been a shock religiously then South Georgia was twice that. I was a minor celebrity as the local children's librarian so we were courted by several churches. Library patrons asked me to church and revivals and suppers and not realizing the culture I found this incredibly intrusive. In a small southern town, church is often your social network, your friends, your "church family". I didn't know anything about this and it made me distinctly uncomfortable. So we went to church when we visited his family and "avoided playing favorites" the rest of the time.

Not knowing it, we prayed separately. But possibly for the same things.

Monday, July 24, 2006

My Religious History (Part 1)

My mother and her family were Irish Catholic. We had three nuns and almost a priest (this is a point of pride in an Irish catholic family - to have a priest. Michael died while in seminary...but enough about that).

My father's family were mixed-religions. Grandma was Presbyterian, and Phil (Grandfather) was a strict Methodist's PK who disowned him when he divorced his first wife. So when my father was a boy they sent him to church. He was told to walk to the Presbyterian church 5 blocks away on Sunday mornings. Since they didn't go and wouldn't know, he walked to the Episcopalian Church around the corner instead. Such a rebel! Meanwhile my mother was in Catholic school in the next town.

They were married at St. Aloysius. I don't know if they attended church before I came along but, I was christened in that same church. They divorced when I was four. But its hard to be catholic and divorced. The priest was unsympathetic to a young mother with 2 children. Church was not just unwelcoming but in some ways hostile, I imagine. Mom sent me to CCD on Tuesday nights until I was 8. But not church.

We went at Christmas, Easter and when a catholic relative visited (especially the nuns). Even then we didn't go to our "regular" Catholic Church. We went to the local catholic university's chapel which was very impressive and holy looking. We went to the Unitarian Universalist's for a few weeks when I was in middle school. But it didn't feel like church. My sister went to the local Quaker Meeting's Youth Group in Middle and high school with a friend. That's the group she mostly identifies with now, although she doesn't attend.

I went to college in the south. For a northerner it can be a shock to arrive in the Bible Belt. Religion had always been a private matter, rarely discussed and never displayed. Sidewalk preachers, hallway prayer meetings and such felt very inauthentic to me. I found the Newman Center (for Catholic students) and attended when I felt I needed forgiving.

And then I met my hubby.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Happy Birthday Revgals!

What a wonderful thing to blog with such wonderful faithful people!
The Friday5 is all about being a revgal.
Here goes:

1) What is your first memory of the RevGalBlogPals?
I have to admit that I found the revgals through St. Casserole while looking for a casserole recipe online (sheepish grin). I read about the devestation of Katrina and linked over to the revgals and found a whole world of people who are in my boat!
My husband answered the call of God and is in seminary after having a first career in the Gov'n't. It was a tremendous shock to me. (In the next few weeks I intend to talk about my call and our journey to the pastorate...stay tuned) Anyway, here at seminary I have met many wonderful people...but most of them felt so at home with God, with church, with a religious life and I felt so out-of-step. My blog is helping me to come to terms with my call to be, who'd have thought, a pastor's wife. My sisters ( and brothers) at the revgals have showed me what a life of christian service is like and whether they know it or not they are shepherding me along the way.

2) Have you met any of the other ring members in real life?
Only Lone Barista (who needs to start posting again). She lives in my neighborhood and our kids are at daycare together! Some of the revgals seem to live in Atlanta, our home presbytery, so maybe someday we'll meet!

3) Of those you haven't met, name a few you would love to know in person.
Songbird and I seem to have quite a bit in common. Lutheranchik, Hazelnut, & Hipchickmama seem like we could be great pals too.

4) What has Ring Membership added to your life?
Hmmm. I guess I should refer to the above. But aside from virtual comraderie, I know that someone will read these rants and somedays thats all I need, to know that someone who knows whats going-on with me will read this and care and maybe even pray for me. That really helps.
You gals don't know how much you've helped me.

5) Describe a hope for the future of the WebRing.
For myself, I know I need to develop a little more proficiency with the technology, and reveal a bit more of my thoughts on faith. As this year goes on, last year in seminary, I think more of this will come naturally.
As for the ring, I am so happy with it! I have really enjoyed the new changes on the Homepage! Are we ready to participate in a project, maybe? Heifer has these Women's lambing encounter weekends in Arkansas and I've always wanted to go. Wouldn't it be cool if a whole bunch of us went together? Could we get the devotionals published by a big publishing house?
Lots to think about. Lots to pray about! Lots to blog about!

Thursday, July 20, 2006

our sad world

Think globally, blog locally.
I don't blog about politics or the big world much. Mainly because I don't like to share my opinions on such things. Partly because... well mostly because... I don't agree with many friendly and well-meaning people including friends and family.
Today I'll just say I'm feeling worried and sad about our world.
Pray for it please.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Dance Party Music!

I am having a Kid's Dance Party here at the Library in two weeks for 5, 6 and 7 year-olds. Below are my music selections so far. Does anyone have any other suggestions?

Chicken Dance
Electric Slide
Hokey Pokey
Everybody do the Dinosaur
Cha Cha Slide
Bunny Hop
The Twist
Hand Jive
Name Game
Hot Potato


Nanny has gone to be with HIM

Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will direct your paths.
Proverbs 3, 5-6

My step-grandmother has died in Florida where she has suffered with Pancreatic Cancer for about 6 months. I don't know her very well, but I am grieving with her wonderful family that has been so good to me and so good for my father.

Monday, July 17, 2006

100 degrees + Obstacle course = ?

This was my brilliant idea.

For the summer I am in charge of programs for the K-2's on Monday afternoons and Family Storytime on Thursday mornings (and helping out with other programs and regular work stuff..yadda yadda). Last week we had a the air-conditioning. This week - in mid-July - I'm having an obstacle course. What fun, I thought! (I've done them before and everyone has a ball!) Here it is though and it is 100+ and an ozone day and such. 2-4 p.m. will be very bad says the cute weather man and people are asking me if I'm having it indoors or postponing it.

I think it will go fine! I think people that are worried about their child, can do something else! I think that doing it inside would be a disaster! I think we can handle 40 minutes outside running around a little...especially because it will be followed by Pop-Ice!

I'll let you know if it is a catastrophe.

UPDATE: It went fine, of course!
26 kids + 14 adults + 4 hula hoops + 4 plastic waste basket + 2 long pieces of wood+ 1 ball of string + 3 boxes of Pop-Ice = 40 minutes of fun!

Friday, July 14, 2006

Friday5: Pet Peeves

Check out the new revgals page. It has changed both in template and format! Here is the Friday5!
1. Grammatical pet peeve
Hmmm. Since I'm guilty of so many grammatical errors, its hard for me to be persnickity about these. Their, they're, there and other "spellcheck errors" are annoying.
AND ALSO CAPITAL LETTERS and chain letters.

2. Household pet peeve
people using the computer during high traffic/stress times
lack of a competant housekeeper (ha!)

3. Arts & Entertainment pet peeve (movie theaters, restaurants, concerts)
cell phones, of course
commercials in the movies
snack prices at the movies
sticky floors in movie theaters
the fact that I would still like to go to the movies occasionally, despite the above!

4. Liturgical pet peeve
Songs that no one knows. I am all for learning a good new song but there is a big learning curve pastors-of-the-world! Not a lot of the world knows how to read english, let alone music. And so we sing it one Sunday and then not again for another year! I'm not sure how much is "singing praise" and how much is "joyful noise".

5. Wild card--pet peeve that doesn't fit any of the above categories
Dog fur, everywhere.
Statements that begin with "we should" but mean" you should".
This high-pitched whistle thing my husband does just to get a rise out of me.
Inviting folks over but not being reciprocated.
Parting Flash's hair...please don't bother, he looks great the way he is.

Bonus: Because all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God: What do YOU do that others might consider a pet peeve?
I leave cupboard doors open.
I don't fill up the car with gas until the last moment (hoping someone else will).
I am queen of the "last moment plans"
My dogs are not well trained

I am not feeling very peevish at the moment so I am sure I forgot some things.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Downer Haiku

Sin, sickness, milestones
sad, shared world -heard and proclaimed
our prayers and concerns

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Cookie Review Day at the Library

I just had to share this idea. Today is one of several teen Cookie Review Days at our library. If you turn in a short book review (on a special cookie themed index card), we give you a big chocolate chip cookie. Yum.

Do you remember those commercials about "What would you do for a Klondike Bar?" Its a lot like that. Kids really turn-up for Cookie Review Day and brag about the books they read! We post them for a while on the bulletin board and then put them in photo albums so that kids can see what other kids liked. And yes, they get used!

Incentives (prizes) are things that librarians talk about. Are they good, are they bad? Which ones are good? I'm generally against food...because we're often a no-food place, because of diets and allergies. But this works. The teens read a book, think about it, visit the library and tell their friends. Nothing wrong with that!

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Hope of the Church Retreat

After my trip to New Orleans, I met up with my family and spent some time at the beach. We had a great, relaxing time and then went to Montreat a Presbyterian Retreat/Conference Center in the North Carolina Mountains. What a wonderful place! We'd never been before but most of our southern Presby friends love it and we are now devotees also.

The occasion was a Conference entitled The Hope Of the Church: Celebrating our Common Ground. I should mention that this conference was planned long before General Assembly happened but that it was probably good that the one followed the other. Some of it was processing things that happened there, especially the PUP report thing but also declining membership, the trinity and so on.

There were lots of Presbyterian big-wigs, former moderators, writers and seminary folks as well as pastors, elders, and well, me. Excellent speakers. I have to say that a lot of that "granduer" was lost on me because, I am a pew-sitter. Hubby would say things like "He wrote Thus and So" but those were also lost on me. It just meant that people could use the biggest vocabulary and jargon they wanted to, because they were talking to people who understood them. Why can't church people speak in English, honestly? After the first day I had a page of notes that mostly boiled down to "what does this mean?". I learned a lot, truly. Did you know that koinonia really means Fellowship? This one guy from California must have used the word 15 times in his 10 minute presentation. You learn something new everyday!

One part of the conference was a panel discussion of attendees who were under-40 to talk about what they thought was the direction and future of the Presbyterian church. After hearing the great-high-muckety-mucks speak on the same topic it was great to hear these folks, who are the future of the church, give primarily positive presentations!

My immediate future includes mega-amounts of laundry, some sleep, my first day back at work and the first real day of Summer Reading Club programs tomorrow. There are no dull days!

The details I promised...New Orleans

After spending almost a month "on the road", I am finally home, at the desk and ready to type. I have promised details on how the big Librarian conference went in New they are.
  • My hotel, and those of everyone I talked to, had all the things hotels have, except adequate staff. This is a refrain.
  • There were three weddings while I was there. The vacation destination type weddings where everyone flew there and had the wedding in the hotel and then went wild in the French Quarter. I gather that folks who were going to go to Vegas are going to New Orleans right now.
  • The downtown area was clean, sparcely populated and safe. I walked most everywhere I went. Yes, some places were boarded up and every place had a help wanted sign.
  • I heard that the employers in New Orleans called up everyone they knew to come work for the weekend, because there simply aren't enough workers. I'm not a gambler but the casino in town had their own medical clinic, since I understand that some medical care has been difficult to get. I am not sure but they may have drwan employees from other chain casinos. On that note...the concierge at my hotel didn't seem to know the city very well, my suspicion was that she was borrowed from another chain hotel.
  • I heard harrowing stories from shopkeepers and hotel people. And sad stories about families living in different cities that used to live side-by-side.
  • A publisher fellow I met got a bellhop to find him a reliable taxi driver to take him on a tour of the ninth ward and other places hurt badly by the storm. He is a very ummm...self-assured sort of person (?) and he was shaken. Said it was worse than anything he'd ever seen. Others who went on a swamp tour saw a lot of the destruction, and of course those who went out and worked at the libraries did too.
  • The shops have some very funny t-shirts with messages about the hurricane and the aftermath. But my favorite was a t-shirt hanging in the window of one of those shops that said "Librarians do it by the book" and then underneath "American Librarian Conference, New Orleans 2006". We have this conference every year. No one ever makes us a t-shirt. Gratitude was evident everywhere you went. A woman I met was hugged by a hotel worker!
  • I understand there was a demonstration outside Cafe du Monde where the protesters basically conveyed that we were only seeing the parts that are fixed. Which we knew. We are librarians after all.
I hope that my comments about the great time I had, did not diminish the catastrophe in New Orleans and the gulf area. My goal was really to tell you that if you were hesitant to visit you shouldn't be. They could use your help.