Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Oh that feels good

To put it bluntly, I love tax software. It just makes the job so much easier! Got the last of my slips today and did our taxes in about an hour. Then with the ability to file electronically they are already in. Now it is time to sit back and wait for the cash.

In other news...
10 years ago to night I was returning to the hostel in London after visiting Westminster Abbey (including the tour of the Royal tombs). It was day 2 of my 2 month (58 days in my journal) trip to England, Ireland and Scotland. My journal entry for that day shows signs of the excitement at what I was seeing (went to the British Museum that day) and also of my nervousness/anxiety about the trip and the cost. It also shows signs of the mild depression that was afflicting me on and off at the time, in reading what I wrote I remember the feeling that I would run out of money far too soon, and remember the sickness in my gut that came with it (although that may have partly been due to time change adjustments and lack of sleep).

Over the next 2 months I plan to reread my journal of that trip, and look at the pictures. It will be a way to look back at where/who I was then.

Awe-some Wonder

Sunday morning worship at Presbytery. Big old church with pipe organ. Couple hundred people present (no we don't have that many Presbyters--all the churches in the city were invited to join together for worship).

Pipe organ plays us into singing Holy, Holy, HOly as an introit. AS everyone starts to sing Sarah (who is standing on my lap) looks up, eyes wide open, mouth open in an unvoiced WOW. Earlier, as people are gathering Devyn had been sitting with mom, pointing at the high ceiling with a similar expression.

Worship needs to do many things at different times and in different ways. BUt one of them has to be that WOW. How do we capture that sense of awe and wonder?

Monday, February 27, 2006

THe Perils of Being Away

Returned from Presbytery at noon today. Spent the first half-hour at my computer (without reading any blogs!) getting caught up on e-mail reading and forums in which I take part. THen went over to the church for another hour+ on that computer (including an entry on the church blog) before coming back here to get the bulletin and communion liturgy for next Sunday done-up -- another couple of hours there. ANd of course there were some phone calls to return and so forth in between.

Up next in the week is a newsletter article (deadline yesterday, no idea what it will be about, maybe something on UCCan history? or polity? or church visioning? or?????) and a newspaper column (really not due till next week but next week I lose most of 3 days for a meeting in W-peg) which also has no topic as of yet -- thinking seriously about something around leadership since what passes for public debate in this town is gettting terrible. And of course there are little matters of getting the newsletter put together, and visiting, and the unknowns... Thankfully I got the dreaded "blue forms" (statistics forms for the national church office) filled out last week.

BUt Presbytery was good. Lots of stuff I have yet to fully process and figure out what to do with. Some good thoughts about the "demonic" myth of scarcity as opposed to a reality of abundance. Hm, that would make a good newsletter or newspaper topic too. I just have to find those stats the speaker used...

Night all, need to sleep on this (well on anything right about now).

Thursday, February 23, 2006


Off to Presbytery and a visit with Grandma for the weekend. See y'all on Monday!

OOOH, this ain't good...

You Are Barney

You could have been an intellectual leader...

Instead, your whole life is an homage to beer

You will be remembered for: your beautiful singing voice and your burps

Your life philosophy: "There's nothing like beer to give you that inflated sense of self-esteem."
ALthough I would have been more worried to have been Ned Flanders...
Hat tip to Becky (via RGBP)

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Flexibility--a good thing

It is all well and good for the Bible in 90 Days people to talk about reading a set number of pages a day (a number that is different for me since I am not using their printing). And it is a great way to make the task seem manageable. But really, the breaking points often make no sense. Last night the breaking point left a mere 4 verses not only in a chapter but in an actual story (Ehud the Judge). How do you get people to follow the story when you tell them to stop reading 95% of the way through????

Really I think the process would be far better to start with an idea of how much to read a day, then as you write out the break points check if they need alteration so that it is a natural place to pause for the day. The goal is to experience the Scripture, not just to say that you've read it. Isn't it??

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

NO Surprises here.

As seen at Scrivenings

Your #1 Match: INFP

The Idealist

You are creative with a great imagination, living in your own inner world.
Open minded and accepting, you strive for harmony in your important relationships.
It takes a long time for people to get to know you. You are hesitant to let people get close.
But once you care for someone, you do everything you can to help them grow and develop.

You would make an excellent writer, psychologist, or artist.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Like a lemming....

PPB has put the word of the day on her blog. Looked like a good idea so I followed. Helps build the vocabulary don't you know. And by the way Sarah can say vocabulary.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Finished the Torah

In the Bible in 90 Days process I just finished the Torah this evening. And that last bit of Deuteronomy has one of my favourite passages in all Scripture, the call to choose between life and death.

As I was reading tonight it struck me how important choice is in the life of faith. Really, Moses discourse is all about exhorting the people to make the right choice, even though it may not always be the easy choice. OF course those of us who know "the rest of the story" know that the choices which were made by the people of Israel wern't always the ones Moses was calling for. And I am pretty sure that at the time some of the people would insist they didn't really have the power to choose.

But really, still today we are called to make choices. And still today people insist that they have no power to choose, that they are pushed into making the choices they do, or that the choice has been taken away by forces beyond their control. In my less than humble opinion this is often nonsense, it is a way to try and avoid responsibility.

Where I have seen this play out most notably in the church is in terms of money. Everyone will insist that they "simply can not afford to give more". And for some that may be true but for many I suspect it really is "we have chosen not to be able to afford to give more". Choices. Same goes with time. We choose how we will give our time, and then we complain about being too busy. BUt it is choices. We have more power over our lives than we claim. We can choose to make the church a higher or a lower priority. We can choose to enroll our children in everything going or not (which makes a big difference in how much time and money we can "afford" for other things). WE can choose how we live our lives.

Moses (or the writer of Deuteronomy if you prefer) was right. WE have before us the choice. We can choose to put our energy, money, and time into doing those things that we find most life-giving or we can choose to spend those things where the rest of the world tells us to. Blessings and curse will follow, but in the end they may well be nothing more than reaping what we have sown.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

THe more things change...

Saw this story in the paper today:
The Supreme Court in Italy has ruled the rape of a young girl was a less serious offence because she was already sexually active.
The terrible thing is that I can see the same argument being used in Canada. I can't see it working but I can see it being tried.

How hard is it to figure out that consent is consent and no consent is no consent? (or NO means NO) And what I did yesterday doesn't give anyone the right to abuse me tomorrow.

Sadness and anger. That's all I can say.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Friday Poetry

I re-read this poem while working on the Ordinary Time Devotionals. The first line is the title of a book by the poet. The book's subtitle is "Reclaiming purpose and passion" It speaks to me, a person who all too often has chosen to wait in the wings and watch rather than live life...

I will not live an unlived life.
I will not live in fear
of falling or catching fire.
I choose to inhabit my days,
to allow my living to open me,
to make me less afraid,
more accessible;
to loosen my heart
until it becomes a wing,
a torch, a promise.
I choose to risk my significance,
to live so that what came to me as seed
goes to the next as blossom,
and that which came to me as blossom,
goes on as fruit.
--Dawna Markova

An Olympian Friday Five

  1. Which of the Winter Olympic sports is your favorite to watch? Curling, luge, quite enjoyed snowboard cross yesterday. Oh and short-track speed skating, especially the relays (not a big fan of longtrack though)
  2. Do you speak Snowboardese? How would I know if I did?? Languages have never been my strongpoint--some days I struggle with basic Canadian English.
  3. Define Nordic Combined. Don't look it up. Take a guess if you must. NOrdic skiing is what we commonly call cross-country. Then you add in ski jumping (utter insanity, along the same lines as jumping our of airplanes in my opinion). For combined sports I prefer Biathlon
  4. Curling. Please discuss. What's to discuss? A purely enjoyable sport to play or to watch. Decievingly complex, simple to get the basics of throwing and sweeping but complex in a knowledge of what angles will work and readin how the ice will "run". And what can you say about a sport which allows you to work for a minute rest for a minute throughout the game.
  5. If you could be a Winter Olympics Champion just by wishing for it, which sport would you choose for winning your Gold Medal? Ummmmmmmmmmm, I guess it would be either curling or skeleton. The one for the strategy and logic, the other for the sheer guts (and insanity) to throw oneself down an icy track on that tiny little sled -- headfirst.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

AT Least I play this one...

You Are Curling

What you lack in athleticism, you make up for in concentration.
And while curling isn't much more of a sport than bowling, you *can* win a gold medal for it!
Well I used to, before kids and life got too busy.
As seen at Grace Happens

A CLass Act

The Olympics, a time to celebrate sport and sports(person)ship. In theory at least. SOme would suggest that the Olympics are now all about wining the most medals and national pride/shame and setting yourself up for the lucrative endorsement contracts that come with the Gold. But then you read a story like this:
Renner was able to recover from a broken pole on the third lap of the six-lap race on the Pragelato Plan course. In only a few calm strides, she found a sympathetic Norwegian coach, who handed her a replacement for the snapped ski pole.
The Canadian pair went on to take Silver while the Norwegians came in 4th. An act of kindness by their coach may well have cost them a medal. It is nice to know that even in these days of doping scandals and "win at all costs" news the spirit of sports(person)ship still wins out some days.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Life In Utero

WEnt for an ultrasound today. Took both girls with us so they could see baby (last week they got to hear baby which was, apparently, very exciting).

Why is it that the 2.75 year old had such a good grasp on what she was seeing? "Look, baby hand!" Technician says, "yep that's a hand". Much more exciting from a child's viewpoint--meanwhile mom and dad are trying to make out anything other than head and spine (which show up very clearly). And it seems that they have changed the logic about drinking--a full bladder now gets in the way. Too bad no-one told us and mom had to endure the bursting bladder feeling for no reason :(

All looks well though, some comment about a big belly (baby's, not mom) apparently but baby is active and sucking on thumb, no wait that looked more like a foot, yep sucking on a toe.

Monday, February 13, 2006

PRayer for Next Sunday

Here is a prayer of Confession/Words of Assurance where I attempted to weave in imagery from all the readings for Feb 19:

Gracious God, you call us to see the new thing you are doing,
but often we choose to remain where we are comfortable.
You offer us healing for ourselves and our neighbours,
but the crowds are too big, we don't want to make a fuss.
You challenge us to share the Good News we have heard with all we meet,
but we are reluctant to share it, preferring to stay in the background.
You continually offer us the promise of YES,
but our minds drown it out with the sense that we are not ready for or worthy of anything but no.
(time of silent confession)
Listen, for this is Good News. God's "YES" can overwhelm all our "no"s. God's healing flows to and through us. God tells us that we are forgiven and restored to life.
Thanks be to God! Amen.

Prayers for a Tragedy

The congregation of Minnedosa Manitoba has lost their church building. See the story here.

This is tragic on so many levels. Not only for the loss of the church building and all that was in it but also to the heritage of the community. There are precious few century-old buildings in the Canadian West. Now there is one less.

Prayers arising for the people of Minnedosa United.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

More accurate than some

Your Inner Child Is Scared

Like a kid, you tend to shy away from new experiences.
You prefer what's tried and true - novelty is scary!
New foods, new places, and new friends are difficult for you to deal with.
Some say you're predictable, but you enjoy being comfortable.
Miond you I don't really buy the whole inner child concept, and I think I havew actually moved a little bit beyond this description. Mind you, on my bad days...

Why is it?

That we have let evangelism become a dirty word. How did we let a certain brand of Christianity seize that word and make their definition the only way it is conceived?

Next Sunday's Gospel reading tells of a group of friends who are so convinced that their friend must see Jesus that they are willing to embark on home dis-repair. They tear/dig a hole in the roof to lower him down. (I always wonder what the homeowner thought of their solution.) What interests me is that Mark does not tell us what the man on the bed thought about the whole process. Whose choice was this (whatever the results might have been)?

But such passion strikes me. IT strikes me because I don't feel it, I don't see it. When have I been that convinced that someone I know needs to see/meet Christ? When has my faith led me to push that hard? Can't think of a time.

And yet, isn't that part of who we are? Aren't we called to be those people who, somehow, draw people to God? Admittedly there are a number of ways to do it. Not all of us are going to stand at Speaker's Corner haranguing passers by. Not all of us will go door-to-door asking people if they have God in their life. But if we have experienced God's healing, God's power, and God's love in our lives what makes us reticent to tell others about it, to say "this might be what you are looking for"?

Unless we in the church can learn to share our faith and invite others in we risk becoming a meaningless sub-culture. WE have to reclaim evangelism as something that we do in our own way--not just something that they do. The only challenge (especially for those Introverts among us) is "how?".

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Making Hard Decisions...

Recently I was involved in an on-line discussion about how the Canadian Medicare system may need to change. The change may mean making hard decisions about what care is "medically necessary", about prioritizing what treatment is offered to whom. The ethics of medicine get very complicated with increasing ability but limited resources. It reminded me of this column I wrote last March in response to the Terry Schiavo case...

The recent death of Terry Schiavo has me thinking about 3 simple, interrelated questions: Can I? May I? Should I?

Despite what we might think all three of these are totally different.

"Can I?" is a question of ability and/or resources. It simply is a way to determine if something is possible or a goal is attainable.

"May I?" is often confused with "Can I?" (how many of us have had occasion to correct children in our care on this one). It is a question not of ability but of permission, of who is allowed to do something.

Then we have "Should I?". This is the ethical question. It is the hardest one to answer (the other two are relatively easy after all). Much of the debate about Terry Schiavo focused on the "May I?", on whom has the authority to make decisions about her care, the ability (Can I?) to prolong life was obviously there. It sometimes seemed that the ethical ("Should I?") question was obscured by rhetoric and entrenched positions on both sides.

"Should I?" is always a hard question. And the more complex an issue the harder the question it becomes. It is my belief that in the next generation we will be faced more and more by issues around the right to die (even if some say such a right doesn't exist), the right to refuse treatment, and the question of who makes decisions for me when I am no longer competent. This is largely because the "Can I?" question is more and more often answered affirmatively. If there are no options then decisions are much clearer. And this is where the church and other faith communities HAVE to stand up and be counted. We have to encourage people to address and explore the "Should I?" questions BEFORE they are gathered around a hospital bed.

I do not pretend to have the ability to answer these questions. That would be insufferable arrogance. This is not a question about if we are playing God; it is a question of how we choose to play God. And I am not sure that we will ever find one answer that works across the board, as nice as that would be. No, our job is not the find the one definitive answer, it is to help open up the questions. And to help the people around us make it known to their loved ones what their feelings would be if they became incompetent to give consent to treatment.

"Talk to your families!" is the one piece of advice that rings in my ears whenever someone brings up a case like this. Talk about when treatment should be continued and when it may be time to say "enough". It is not enough to sign a piece of paper with your wishes. You have to let your loved ones know too. (The same thing goes for signing an organ donor card by the way) You have to let them know because they will be the ones looking at the Dr. in disbelief when (s)he says that (s)he knows better what you would have wanted.

This is our task, to bring light to bear on the hard questions. Scientists and lawyers can answer "Can I?" and "May I?" but we have to help people deal with "Should I?". We ignore that question at our own peril.

Friday, February 10, 2006

So Long, Farewell -- the Friday Five

  1. How do you say goodbye to someone you will see again soon? See ya later! (usually)
  2. What is your favorite foreign word for "goodbye?" au revoir
  3. Have you ever planned a special farewell for someone, or had one planned for you? no to the first, yes to the second -- a couple times on that one
  4. What is the hardest goodbye you have had to say? I think it was leaving Kids Kottage after working there for almost 3 years
  5. What is the most romantic goodbye you have seen in a movie? Not a clue. Luke telling Leia she is his sister before going to the 2nd Death Star is romantic in a non-lovey dovey sense. And not romantic but certainly heart wrenching is Padme Amidala with Anakin/Vader in Revenge of the Sith. The Von Trapps encore at the Salzburg festival as well.

And a Bonus question for Musical Theatre geeks: Which Von Trapp child would you like to be in "So Long, Farewell?" Either boy actually (was going to say the smart aleck but they are both a little smart alecky). I could see myself doing both the "adieu adieu, to yieu and yieu and yieu" and the falsetto note held for far too long.

Someday We'll find it, the Rainbow Connection...

You Are Kermit

Hi, ho! Lovable and friendly, you get along well with everyone you know.
You're a big thinker, and sometimes you over think life's problems.
Don't worry - everyone know's it's not easy being green.
Just remember, time's fun when you're having flies!
The lovers, the dreamers and ME!

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Just Stand me up and rub me with a bow...

You scored as Cello. Cello.
Not much to say about the cello. apologies.









String Bass








French Horn










If you were in an orchestra, what instrument would match your personality?
created with QuizFarm.com

Hat tip to Phantom Scribbler

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Culture in the Wilderness

ONe of the enduring stereotypes about smaller commuities is that they ar cultural wastelands. After all, the logic goes, what do you get for perforers? HOw can it be economically viable to have a cultural scene with such small audiences?

Guess what! It happens. HEre we have something called the AES, a series of concerts each year funded by government money, business sponsors and patrons, and individual tickets. 6 shows a year for incredible prices. For the two of us it was about $175--and that included a $25 donation (which gives us "patron" status). Of the shows that come through, it would cost that much to go to 2 of them in a larger centre--we know, we went to the box office of the closest auditorium (TBCA) and checked prices for shows that were going to be in both places. WE have had names like Prairie Oyster, the Barra MacNeils, Michelle Wright, Don Harron, a symphony orchestra. Each year a touring theatre company brings in a play (this year it is Driving Miss Daisy). I never expected this when I was being settled here. IT was one of those great gifts that life offers.

Thanks AES for enriching the life of this community. We are better for having you here. THanks to the provincial Arts Council for supporting these small town entertainment series (there are several of them in the area communities), thanks for remembering that we need the "finer aspects" of life as much as those in the major centres.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Hero or Outcast?

Jesus that is ( I know which of those I am closer to). That is the question that I find myself pondering for next Sunday's sermon. See my early thoughts on the church's blog

NEw Cabinet Today

Canada now has a new Prime Minister and Cabinet. Stephen HArper was sworn in this morning, The Cabinet listing is here.

It is not all bad. Only some of the scarier members of the party got in. Some good news too, Peter MacKay as Foreign Affairs, I was afraid Stockwell Day would get that. But Jim Flaherty as Finance is troubling (though predicted), as is Tony Clement for Health. What truly surprised me was that after all the noise Harper made about Belinda Stronach crossing the floor into cabinet last year he did the exact same thing with David Emerson. And then after all these years complaining about the "democratic deficit" in Canada (which does exist as more and more power has been centralized into the Prime Minister's Office) Harper named an unelected party functionary to Cabinet.

NOw we find out how well the Conservatives can govern in a minority position when the rest of the parties are centrist or left of center.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

A Journey Begins

Today I am starting the "Bible in 90 Days" process, as are a number of people in the congregation. Lets see how many days I have to "Make up" because I missed the day before...

Friday, February 03, 2006

Friday Poetry (a hopeful and Christological selection)

All that is gold does not glitter
NOt all those who wander are lost.
The old that is strong does not wither
Deep roots are not reached by the frost.

From the ashes a fire shall be woken
A light from the shadows shall spring
Renewed shall be blade that was broken
The crownless again shall be king

(Bilbo Baggins, while living in Rivendell)

RGBP FRiday 5 -- Dirty Deeds

Please name five deeds you have performed unwillingly, half-heartedly, resentfully or inadequately. Feel free to interpret the word “deeds” as loosely as suits you.
  1. Dog with very prolific bowel + winter with lots of snow = springtime fun
  2. The Main Lodge at the camp I worked at during University had bats. In the kitchen. Doing what bats do. Needing to be swept up every day.
  3. Dusting. I mean really, whats the point???
  4. When working graveyard shift at a gas bar the owner wanted the pumps polished. Not just wiped off but use the chrome polish and everything--they were gas pumps for pete's sake!
  5. cleaning deep fryers (filtering oil, cleaning out the inside--ever seen what a french fry becomes if it falls to the bottom of a fryer??)

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Early SPring??

Well once again it is groundhog day.

Apparently there is a consensus this year. An early spring in Canada (but not in PEnnsylvania apparently).

I really don't get the whole thing about Feb 2. I liked Bill Murray's line about the world paying homage to a rat (at the beginning of teh movie Groundhog Day, which is hilarious by the way). As far as I can tell, if the rodent sees a shadow spring in 6 weeks, if no shadow then spring in about 1.5 months.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Childcare and economics

Recently I have found myself wondering about what drives society to declare something as "best practice" for child raising.

In this province parents are encouraged to start their children in half-time school at age 4 (schooling is not mandatory until Grade 1, junior and senior kindergarten are optional). Actually if the child's birthday is before Dec 31 they can start Junior Kindergarten at age 3. And everything I have learned about child development says that this is too soon, that asking a child to go to a structured educational setting at that age is too much (in many places half-time woks out to 2 full days a week, some places it is 5 half days a week). But economically it makes sense--it saves childcare costs, it frees parents to be working. And no, we have not yet decided what we will do in 2007 but we are both leaning away from JK.

THe other practice that I am even more sure is linked to economics is the growth of what are considered normal or mandatory vaccines for young children. NOw granted: influenza, chicken pox, pretty much anything can develop severe side-effects. BUt I have this nagging suspicion that much of the push behind shots (adult and child in the case of flu shots) is economic. NOt only do the manufacturers need a market for their product but what happens when illness occurs? People have to stay home from work. Productivity is lost. Economically it is bad. BUt maybe more down time is actually good. Maybe the economically sound alternative is not the healthy one. Really I have nothing against immunizations. They perform a needed task, they contain the spread of potentially deadly illnesses. But is it possible that they aren't always needed? Is it possible that some of them should be saved for the most at risk? Is it possible that our children's immune systems might benefit from being exposed to some of these germs (something that has been suggested in a number of places, I just don't have references with me right now)?

Oh and the above questions on immunizations apply equally well to the burgeoning number of anti-bacterial products that are out there. SOmetimes I am surprised nobody in my house has a deathly illness considering how "well" it is cleaned...

What is essential to learn about the church?

Once upon a time Lent was a time of preparation for new Christians. During the 40 days of Lent they prepared themselves to be baptized on Easter Sunday. Keeping this in mind I am planning a sermon series for the 5 Sundays of Lent. The series topic, in general terms, is the church.

SO what 5 sermons need to be heard? THe first SUnday of every seaason is communion in this congregation so that gives the topic for sermon #1--an introduction to UCCan understandings of communion. We tentatively have a Baptism set for the 2nd Sunday (once the Board gives its OK) so that lays out an obvious choice for sermon #2. But what about the other three?

What are the 5 essential things you would want to know about the church? Organizational structure of the wider church (what an exciting sermon that would be)? Membership vs. full membership (baptized vs baptized and confirmed)? Doctrinal stuff? How a worship service is built? What would you want to hear about?