Friday, December 29, 2006


What to do when The Rev. and I have days off together? Demolish the house and get to work, of course. I won't divulge too much of what we have done, given that I would like to surprise my parents and my in-laws when they are here in a few weeks, but I can say that we have done some hard, but rewarding work. Mom and Dad, the Home Depot gift card has been put to good use.

I wish I had a tape recorder whenever The Rev. and I get to work together on projects. I tend to be more of a task master, while he tends to let the ADD take over and run the project until I stamp my foot and raise my voice a decibel. A few of the goodies:

"We can either go New Orleans decadent or shabby chic farmhouse."

"Decadent farmhouse would not be good."

A member of our congregation met us at Home Depot last night so we could haul dry wall and crown moulding back to our house. He witnessed:

"We need to buy doors."

"WHAAAAT? Doors were never part of the deal."

"Don't you want two new doors?"

"We have four doors that need to be replaced."

"A little bit at a time baby."


"Why not?"


"Come on."

At this point I turn to Roy, our member, and say, "Forgive me in advance, Roy, but you might witness a small domestic dispute."

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Christmas Day

I walked into the children's Christmas Eve service just as the children were leading the congregation in the last hymn. It was the first Christmas Eve service I have missed, ever.

I did attend Christmas Day services, however, and my hurt feelings about missing Christmas Eve were alleviated because The Rev. used a devotion service of nine reading and nine carols. The nine readings were the traditional Christmas recitations that so many of us know...

"In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken over the entire Roman world..."

"And an angel appeared to Joseph and said..."

"But Mary treasured up all of these thing and pondered them in her heart..."

You get the picture.

Anyway, some of the children who were in the program the night before dug deep and delivered the congregational recitation with the same gusto and fervor as the previous night. I am sure they did it just for me, and I had to cover my face with my service bulletin because one of the little ones behind me was getting so into it and compounded it by an inability to pronounce the sound of the letter r.

"But Mawy tweasuwed up awl these things and pawndewed dem in hew hawt."

"And and angel of the LAWD appeawed to dem and they were SOWR afwaid."

God Bless them every one.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Help Me, Baby Jesus

I, like so many others, let Christmas get away from me this year. I didn't get around to making an Advent wreath, and The Rev. and I didn't read one devotion together in the soft glow of our Christmas tree. Too busy, too frazzled, too tired to show respect, love, and awe for the miracle of Christmas. The Rev. said it best this morning, and he has so kindly forwarded me his devotion so that I could share it with you, dear readers.

May the Dear Lord bless you and yours this Christmas.

Dear brothers and sisters who have been moved by a miracle to return and give thanks to him who gave it:
So this is Christmas. It seems so, well, anti-climactic in a way. All the frenzied commercialism, all the running around, all the decorating, all the fuss for just the right gift or recipe, and for what? A few hours of quiet with a loved one or two that will not last long enough, that cannot be savored enough. SO THIS IS CHRISTMAS.
You might say that when you read St. John’s account of Christmas. In his account he strips away all the side dishes, all the fancy trimmings and ornamentation and all the little stuff that often seems to get in the way and obstruct our view of what Christmas really is. Try this on for Christmas: The Word became flesh and lived for a while among us. That’s it. No snow on the ground, no angels sweetly singing in the sky, no shepherds with fluffy little sheep, no cows mooing or drummer boys banging on their drums. No Swedish looking virgin cuddling her little one. No soft golden hay in a western European manger. No starts twinkling on a cold crisp night. None of that. John writes none of that. He simply describes what Christmas really is, what really happened in Bethlehem so many years ago. The Word became flesh and lived for a while among us. SO THIS IS CHRISTMAS stripped of all its decorations and left to stand for what it is.
Body: Stripped of all its decorations and left to stand for what it is
Perhaps, just perhaps John is writing for people who live in the kind of world we live in. Think about what they have done with Christmas! There is no baby in a manger any more. There is no baby. There is no Christ. There is no miracle of a virgin mother giving birth. Not a care or a thought is given to these things, much like it actually was on that first Christmas. In our world Christmas is about showing how charitable you are or how greedy you can be without getting caught. It’s about spending more money than you have. It’s about ornaments, and trees, and light displays, and parties and bonuses, and big dinners, and vacations to mom and dad’s or grandma and grandpa’s house. There’s nothing wrong with many of these things just by themselves. But when all this glitz and glitter covers the stable and the road to Bethlehem is lined with malls, how can Christ not be lost among all the masses?
It’s so easy to pick on our world. Why I could go on, but I don’t want to turn you into a room full of Pharisees. You of all the people have at least had the decency to show up on Christmas Day, the most sacred day in our social and political and financial calendar to worship Jesus. Certainly your hearts haven’t been over decorated with the stuff of the season. Certainly you haven’t so decorated your homes and hearts that you’ve buried the baby Jesus under all the holly, ivy, wrapping paper and tinsel. No not us.
But of course we have. And that is why we are here, isn’t it? You and I can be just as greedy for bonuses and presents as anyone. Our nerves can be just as frazzled as anyone else’s as we try to make this year perfect. Our homes can be just a filled with holiday turmoil as anyone else’s. That’s because devil and sin and world never quit assaulting and harassing you. For them the battle never ceases, not even for Christmas, especially not for Christmas.
So you’ve come to God’s house AGAIN today, to find Christmas and to see the Christ who is so often lost and hidden among us. You’ve come to repent and to readjust and to refocus on the one thing needful. And St. John is here to help you. The Word became flesh and lived for a while among us.
There it is dear friends. There is Christmas stripped of all its decorations, plain and simple. The Word of God who is God and through whom all the world was created, that Word came and took on human flesh and blood, so that he could live among us as one of us in order to save us. This divine Word became human not only to live for awhile among us but then also to die as the atoning sacrifice for our sins and not only for ours but for the sins of the whole world. This heaven-sent Word-made-flesh has risen from death with healing in his wings. The peace he brings is a peace that is beyond understanding. It is a peace between the just and holy God and you, a sinner deserving of nothing but his anger. The peace this sweet sentence gives is that the war and hostility between God and mankind is over. The Almighty has set aside his thunder and lightening. This divine Word became flesh and lived among us for a while, and he still lives among us and he always will. He still lives among us and speaks to us through his Word. He still comes to us in bread and wine and assures us that by his body and blood given and poured out for us, we are forgiven and have peace with God. And this Word is coming again to call us to live with him forever.
Dear friends, if you will get rid of all the songs, all the decorations and trimmings, if you peel it all away, this is what you have--The Word became flesh and lived for a while among us--and this is all you need. Christmas can stand on its own. It gives a joy and peace and comfort and confidence that none of the trimmings can offer. SO THIS IS CHRISTMAS! Yes, and isn’t it full of wonder?
Through the Word of Christmas the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard and keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus until he comes again in glory. Even so, Lord Jesus, come quickly! Amen.

Friday, December 15, 2006

How to amuse The Rev.'s Secretary

When you mess up one of the addresses on your Christmas cards you say, "Oh Crap. Oops, I shouldn't say that so loud."

Because there is a room full of school kids learning about fractions five feet away and the classroom door is open.

I don't think they heard me.

The Christmas Pickle

Scene: The anteroom to The Rev.'s office. I am sitting on the floor working on Christmas cards and chatting with The Rev.'s Secretary (Hi, Rev.'s Secretary!):

"Do you have a pickle in your Christmas tree?"

"Why, as a matter of fact, I do have a pickle in my Christmas tree."

"Really? We don't have one and I'm beginning to think we should."

"Well, the only reason I have one is that one of the teachers gave me one and insisted that I must have a pickle in my Christmas tree."

Today I learned there is a German tradition of hanging a Christmas ornament in the shape of a pickle in your Christmas tree. I was raised by parents who had parents who spoke German in their homes, and I know for a fact that there were never pickled vegetables of any size or shape in any Christmas tree I have every known. Either my ancestors missed the memo on having nitrate laden fruit and vegetables hung on a dead tree, or they chose to ignore it. Given that both of my grandmother's were extremely practical, frugal people, I think they chose to ignore it.

When The Rev. was finished with his morning classes, I asked him whether or not his mother hung a pickle in their tree. He could not recall, which for me was as good as "No, and I am less of a person because of it." Today we took it upon ourselves to find a pickle to hang in our Christmas tree. We tried one Christmas shop in Escondido, and besides the throngs of people buying ornaments more ridiculous than pickles to hang in their trees (think mermaids, fish, alligators, and scary angels) we came up empty handed in our search for a pickle. We would have asked for help, but we both felt a little foolish approaching the little old lady who looked extremely overwhelmed with the mobs buying disco balls for their trees and asking, "Excuse me, do you have any pickles?"

"Let's try Hallmark."

"Absolutely not. I will not hang a pickle from Hallmark in my tree."

"Why not?"

"It's like buying coffee from Starbucks."

"You are supposed to buy coffee from Starbucks."

"That's my point. It is the easy way out, and I don't want to buy my pickle from Hallmark. This is my mission, and if Hallmark has a pickle, I am not buying it."

We found a ceramic pickle at a Christmas market in the mall (made in China, but it was a pickle!), and then I found two glass ones at another shop in Escondido. These glass pickles are Polish, and my conscience felt better that at least two of our pickles have a heritage that is remotely associated with their country of origin.

The pickles now hang in our tree, and one will go to church this weekend to hang in the tree that is outside of The Rev.'s office. Our next mission is to find olives and pickled okra.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

The Good Sister

Check it out:

Besides keeping The Rev. in the lifestyle to which he has become accustomed, I have been known, on occasion, to don the hat of editor and proof a manuscript that has been written by my brother.

Out of my element

I started Christmas shopping yesterday, and I discovered that there is a place where I feel completely out of my element, besides a non-liturgical worship service that uses an electric guitar and a drum set to praise Jesus. That place is a children's clothing store, and I spent a few bewildered moments trying to get my bearings, surrounded by pint size clothes and sales women who were more than willing to teach me the difference between a 4T and little girl's small.

My intentions were initially pure, and I wanted to buy something cute and girlish for my nieces, but I found myself having to control an impulse to purchase a leopard print coat. Children's clothing is EXPENSIVE, and I want to meet the parent who is willing to shell out fifty bucks for a coat that can be worn for two minutes without having jelly dribbled on it and two months before it becomes a hand-me-down. Yesterday, I discovered I have an opinion about the way children should dress, which should be filed under "Ignorant statements made by a person who has no children." That statement will sit right next to the folder that contains my opinions about the way children should behave in church, but that is another post entirely. What I learned yesterday is that clever marketers want us to dress our kids like miniature adults, on the cusp of being able to purchase their own beer, rather than little kids who still have eight years before the onset of puberty. Of course, once my nieces open their gifts, I am sure their mothers will think, "This is obviously a purchase made by someone who has no children, and has no business having them."

I did find matching outfits for my nieces, who just so happen to live on opposite ends of the country, and they are cute outfits, pink with a smattering of glitter, something a little girl would love. I had a harder time shopping for my nephews, and after perusing Baby Gap, I decided that if I purchased a shirt that said, "World's Cutest Sailor," I would be pointed out as the culprit who made sure my nephew got beat up everyday on the playground. I did have my hand on a camo patterned hoodie, but two of my nephews live outside of San Francisco, and again, I want to make sure they don't get beat up everyday on the playground, or ostracized by some protester who is against hunting Bambi.

I bought the nephews toys, and then I worried that I was perpetuating a stereotype that encourages girls to think only in the terms of pink and clothes, while encouraging boys to be, well, boys. I had to push that aside, though, because I know when the wrapping and bows are torn off their presents on Christmas, they will love their presents. Their parents may not, but the kiddies will.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Under my skin #2

Meow and whine to go outside.

You are let outside because I don't like to hear repetitive meowing and whining.

Five minutes later I hear repetitive meowing and whining to be let inside.

I let you in because I don't like to hear repetitive meowing, whining, and scratching.

Repeat the process 23 times in an hours because I am home and obviously, I have NOTHING better to do than be your doorman.