Nov 26, 2008

Worth Looking Into...

InternetMonk did an interview with a guy named David Hayward here. He's the pastor of a Vineyard church in Canada, and runs (writes? blogs?) a blog called nakedpastor.

I found the interview fascinating. Church dynamics are such a strange and diverse thing--a reality I'm increasingly aware of in my own life. How much moreso from a pastor's point of view. Of Hayward, iMonk says "he’s good people," partly based on the fact that he's received email telling him to have nothing to do with the nakedpastor. Sounds promising to me.

Hayward seems to be really into grace, and authenticity, and vulnerability, so I will be checking out his blog. Just not right now, because it's bath time. But I wanted to get the link down for my own reference, and for anyone else who is so inclined.

Big thanks to iMonk for doing the interview.

Nov 22, 2008

Saturday Morning Fun...

The Cat Daddy was volun-told to help out with some work stuff today. His Highness and I are heading to Ft Collins with some friends to see Santa, who will be driving into town on a horse-drawn sleigh. Something about conserving the reindeers' energy for Christmas Eve...

We need to eat breakfast, His Highness needs to put some clothes on, and then we'll be outta here. His Highness is currently snagging lasagna noodles from the pantry and giving them to the dogs, who like to crunch them up into teeny tiny little bits that I will have to vaccuum at some point because they don't actually eat them.

And what am I doing? The morning checking of the email. Head down, eyes averted from the mess.

But now the Eggos are summoning me, so I really must be off...

Nov 13, 2008

Did You Know...

...that when you steep tea you're supposed to cover it? Apparently this is to prevent the essential oils from evaporating. And apparently the essential oils are where all the really great flavor and nutritional benefits come from, so it's reasonable to not want them to evaporate.

I'm not a huge tea person, but lately I've been drinking peppermint tea for its tummy-soothing effects and sugar free, yet minty fresh flavor. After I read about covering the tea during steeping I gave it a shot, and ZING--yummy! It was, in fact quite a bit more minty and refreshing than before. So now I am a huge fan of covering the steeping tea...

Nov 9, 2008

On Humanity and Dogs...

I had a moment today. It was uncomfortable and entirely unexpected on many levels.

In a way it started with the election. On the issue of giving to the poor and others who need it. In a massively-general nutshell, two main approaches are giving to private charities, who then give to those in need, and paying more taxes to the government, who gives via programs. While I tend to prefer the former in theory, it dawned on me that I pretty much suck at giving on my own, mostly due to my own lack of forethought and planning. So I've been mulling over the whole idea of how I can give more to people who need it, and how we can give more as a family.

His Highness and I went to church today (the Cat Daddy was working), followed by a couple of errands. On the way into Home Depot we passed a guy on the streetcorner, wheelchair bound, holding a dog on his lap and a sign reading "Please help a vet in need and his dog."

I really, really wanted to help this guy out. It was the dog. Pets get me every time. But I don't carry cash, so there went that. And I thought of a myriad of other reasons why I couldn't/shouldn't do something to help. So I continued into the store, in search of my little piece of hardware.

Speaking of which, I think the staff must have been really, really bored today. They were so nice and helpful that I felt a little smothered. They asked what I was looking for, and were radioing all over the place, asking me to describe what a cross dowel was, and I was like, "Can you just tell me where the hardware is?" I knew exactly what I was looking for, and with this sort of thing I actually enjoy the hunt. It makes me feel all capable and stuff. But they were insistent on helping, so I let them lead me to the hardware aisle and show me the cross dowels, which were all in metric, where the one I need is in standard units, and I've already tried substituting one that's "really close" unsuccessfully, so I said "Thanks for looking; I'll look for it online."

I still needed some AA's, so I grabbed those and checked out. As I hit "no cash back" the guy with the sign popped back into my mind. Very determinedly. And, you know, thoughts along the line of "well Skerrib, you've been wondering how you can find ways to give," and so on. In a way that told me they would not go away.

And then I remembered my secret stash. In my checkbook, which I hardly ever carry with me. But today I had it, and as it turned out I had a $20 bill in my stash. So I decided to give it to him. I can think of a million different reasons not to go and give out cash, most of which involve folks using it for entirely useless purposes...but it sort of didn't matter if I was about to get duped--I just had one of those strong senses that I needed to do it this particular time. The kind of sense that you don't mess with; you just go with it.

So I did. I pulled out of the parking lot and up to the corner, and I walked up to the guy and said "Hi, my husband's in the Air Force, and I love dogs, so please take this and spend it well." I felt totally dumb, but it was what it was. And he said thanks and God bless, and I said God bless back.

The problem was that I made eye contact with him. As I said hi he lifted his eyes...and he was not the classic scary or insane-looking guy. It sounds all touchy-feely to say, but I was struck by the simple fact of his humanity. I felt disoriented by this, and hurried back to the car and pulled away, giving a little wave & a nod. And out of nowhere I started to cry. This was strange because I'm not normally one who feels so deeply for a person's plight that I'm moved to tears. I will cry in a split second for an animal though, so perhaps it was the dog. It was a very cute little dog.

I dunno, maybe it was hormones and fatigue, but somehow that 5-second interaction affected me rather deeply. Whether or not this guy was for real, it made me feel for all the people who are in need...some are crazy and scary, and some are needy for a reason, and some are fairly normal people who have been really, really unfortunate. So on the way home I cried for the homeless, and hungry, and needy people, because of the simple fact that they're people. Then I pulled up in my nice car to my nice house, and pulled myself together because I had a kiddo to feed, and so on.

So that was my moment. It came out of nowhere and whacked me over the head. Maybe I helped the guy & his dog eat or stay warm somehow, or maybe he went & bought some beer, I don't know. Like I said though, this particular time it didn't matter...

Nov 7, 2008

Dangerous Grace...

I felt the need to link to this post over at TrueFaced, written by the teaching pastor at my home church in AZ. It really struck a chord with me. If you are searching for God or wondering about God, or even if you already know God, it's entirely possible that it will give you an entirely new perspective. Some excerpts--but be careful; God's grace is dangerous (picture Val Kilmer clicking his teeth here)...

“Therefore now there is no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus.”

“I have been crucified with Christ and it no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and delivered Himself up for me.”

“I want to be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith.”

“For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law, but under grace.”

“We are the true circumcision, who worship in the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh.”

“You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus."

"...Every now and then someone believes such verses and doesn’t try to balance them with other verses that seem to say the opposite. Instead they look at all confusing verses through the grid of the plain and clear revealed love, grace, delight and sovereign power of God for us. And they find themselves risking to stand against all the methodology, technique and impressive sounding hype of disciplined self-effort. Instead they trust Christ to live and release His power through them. It is scary. It feels like you’re giving up the store. But soon they put their full weight upon God’s ability to mature them. These are the ones who get to live free, free the captives, restore families, and experience the tender intimacy of a God who is not disgusted. They get to turn the world upside down..."

Pretty crazy. It's the kind of stuff that'll mess with your world. It has certainly messed with mine, & I've never gone back...

Click here to read the whole thing.

**Update--If you have trouble with the links go directly to and pull up the Nov 6, 2008 entry.

Nov 5, 2008

Don't Panic...

Some of you nerds of various persuasions may have read "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy." It's a novel about, among other things, a reference book called "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy." In the story, the Hitchhiker's Guide (the reference book) had a fairly simple cover with the words "Don't Panic" prominently displayed. This had a nice, calming effect, which is always helpful if you suddenly find yourself a space-transient because your planet has just been vaporized. Good advice, I say--Don't Panic.

I still worked for the government during the 2004 election. All but one of us college co-ops voted for President Bush, and the one who didn't was very strong in her convictions and was very sad at the outcome. She actually cried a little bit, right there at work. She was that sad. I was very proud of my fellow co-ops...every single person responded to her with compassion. I really don't remember what we said, even. Nothing remarkable, I'm sure. But I watched everyone convey friendship. Regardless of our different values, outlooks, and bents...we were all "for" our friend and even though we were so happy, we understood the pain of losing something. We might've all gone out to lunch together...we were always looking for reasons to go out to lunch. Because lunch is awesome. My point is, we gave her the space to grieve her loss.

To my friend's credit, her response was gracious as well. There was no begrudging us for our happiness, or berating our reasons for voting the way we did. The election was one part of life, but not all of life. We went on in our jobs, I moved to Massachusetts, and life continued in general.

So be nice, share, and play well with others. Celebrate if you're happy, and grieve if you're not.

But most of all, Don't Panic...

Nov 1, 2008

A Family Moment...

I came across this gem while unpacking boxes a few weeks ago. This photo was from a Disneyland trip the Cat Daddy and I took with our parents, shortly before he joined the Air Force in 2001 (click the pic to enlarge).

Have I mentioned that I love Disneyland? It is by far my favorite of the Disney parks. Most of my reasons are purely biased, having grown up in the West and having been to Disney World only once, in 2003. I simply have more experience with Disneyland. And in no way am I bashing the Magic Kingdom in Orlando. It is a fabulous place. In many ways it's impossible to compare the two, especially when you factor in everything else that is a part of Disney World (eg, the MGM park--FANTASTIC).

But still, being the oldest park, and much smaller than any of the others, Disneyland is crammed with something exciting in every corner, which to me is quite charming. I think the smaller size also makes it just a teeny bit more effective at maintaining "The Show," and maybe even gives it a little bit more of the magic.

I have two secret dreams when it comes to Disneyland. First, I would love to get stuck on Space Mountain when they have to turn on the lights. I've heard it's lame and totally destroys the experience, but to me I think it would be more like an inside joke or shared secret. "Don't worry Space Mountain, I've seen you with the lights on and I love you just the same." Or something.

Second, I would love to traverse the secret underground tunnels. What it boils down to is that I like to know things, and to be in on things, especially things that most people don't know. What I don't know is whether or not I'll ever make it down there without actually being employed by the park. If that's what it took though, I'd do it. Just to say I did.

Now admittedly, I do think Disneyland (and even Disney in general) has lost a little bit of its magic over the years as everything has gotten more mass-marketed and's hard to find items and aspects that are uniquely Disneyland these days...but even so, I always love a trip to Disneyland. If anyone wants to take me, please let me know--I'll be there in no time!

Anyhoo, about the picture--it was our first trip on Splash Mountain that day. It might have been our first or second ride all day, in fact. I remember we got right back on it, strictly instructing Mom-in-law to please keep her head up so we could see her in the pic, and within the time it took to walk the queue it got busy enough that they stuck a sixth rider in with us for our second time through. Ah well.

I like this picture because it is quite candid. In fact I think it's more effective than most in capturing each person as they are. Let me illustrate:

--In the front we have Mom-in-law. Also a Disneyland lover, she knew full well what was likely in store for her in the front seat--a big ol' splash--and didn't mess around with pretty poses or funny faces. She just hunkered down to weather the storm.

--Next is my mom. My mom is big into "the moment." You can see that she is also anticipating a big splash, hence the closed eyes, but also notice the wide grin and the arms reaching forward to comfort Mom-in-law in the midst of her plight. This is not just a ride for Mom, this is a moment, and she is enjoying it to the full.

--Followed by yours truly. I had fully planned to give a big cheesy grin and two thumbs up to the camera. I rehearsed on the way through the briar patch scenes and everything. However, the drop always gets me the first time through. Every, single, first time. By the second time I was calm and ready, but for this shot I instinctively grabbed the sidebars and let out a yell. You might say I was genuinely thrilled by this thrill ride.

--The Cat Daddy of course stuck to his gameplan. He is determined that way. I belive by this time he'd been officially accepted into the Air Force. You can see the intensity of a person who knew he'd better make the most of his fun, since he was about to start three months of absolutely-no-fun officer training. Everything about his pose, from the pointing finger, to the excited yelp you just know is escaping his lips, to the hat defiantly left on the head and complete lack of a waterproof covering, is entirely what you would expect to see from a 24-year-old man on a photographic mission, making the most of Disneyland. And I do appreciate his inner drive to make the most of Disneyland.

--And finally my dad. Dad stuck to the gameplan as well, but his pose has a more laid-back quality that people tend to acquire over time. After they take one foot out of the rat race, and realize they don't give a rat's [derriere] what people think, and consequently find themselves feeling much more at peace with the world. He's on vacation and he is obviously enjoying himself. With both arms raised, he doesn't even care if he's sucked right out of the log. From experience he knows that everything will probably turn out just fine.

And so this concludes my little nutshell-psychological-analysis of my family on Splash Mountain. We are a crazy bunch, but let it never be said that we're a bunch of sticks in the mud...

UPDATE--11/03/08--In the comments it was mentioned that the Cat Daddy was 26, not 24. Actually at the time this was taken he was 25. The management regrets the error and restitution has been made.

Imitation...Flattery...Blah Blah Blah...

His Highness and I have been battling colds. Since I've been wiping his nose so much I've taken the opportunity to teach him to blow his nose. While he blows out when we smell flowers, he sniffs when I tell him to blow his nose. A little backwards, but with his age & all it's a process.

Since I've been blowing my own nose anyway, it's been a demonstration of sorts for him. My nose can be a noisy nose, which of course he thinks is the funniest thing ever.

Today he made progress. I held up the kleenex & said "Blow your nose," and he did...sort of. He blew a raspberry-sound through his mouth. Then he looked at me as if to say, "Did I do it?? It sounded like it!!"

Because that's what Mommy's nose sounds like...