27 November 2008

hey Marg, I'll join you around that table...

You remind me that I need to be more thankful for the family I am with this year. Dysfunction and all. Disagreements and all. They are my family. Bless them. And bless me. 

Please enjoy the kind and thoughtful words of a good friend away from her family.  

Marg, thanks for including me at your big table of thankfulness. 

Grace upon grace,

ps: Please add to her list.  I am sure it will make her extra happy and included in this day...even when across the BIG pond. 

25 November 2008

I decided...

When I hear this song, I think of my father.  This was the kind of music he loved way back in the day.  Well, he still adores it.   It puts a smile on my face.  See, this is music you can really dance to. Enjoy! I hope you tab your toes, swing your hips, and snap your fingers. 

Solange-"I Decided"
(Part 1 & 2)

24 November 2008

did I ever tell you I am an aunt?

Well, not really. But yes. I mean she calls me Aunt Air. (The "b" sound seems to be hard for kids.) Cali Noel is my cute niece. There is a long story there, but we are going to move on.  Okay, the short. She is not my brother's.  She is Missy's, my sister who is not really my sister.  I seem to have lots of these relationships.  Good thing!  I like being adopted (figuretively). And my family seems to like to adopt people, too (figuretively).  I think complex family systems make life more interesting. Maybe.  These relationships are even better when you feel estranged from your own (extended) family.

Back to Cali.  Please take time to experience her cuteness and thoughtfulness in the below picture. I saw Cali in July, and then it was three months before I got to hold her again. And what a three months. She went from barely walking to running.  She went from holding on to her momma to social butterfly. And the best, she went from incoherent rambler to perfectly eloquent. What a great conversationalist. The great thing about kids, especially toddlers, they remind you of the little things.  

They describe ordinary objects with keen detail.  They observe what you have forgotten. And guess what?  They will remind you!  They point. They share. They talk. They conversate. They require your attention. And I am willing to give it! I am willing to be reminded. I am willing to rediscover the beautiful, complex, and ordinary of daily living.  Cali helps me regain a memory that was long forgotten in the (many) days of stress, studying, ranting, and self-centeredness. 

Thanks, Cali. Thanks for being part of my family. Thanks for talking with me. Thanks for helping me celebrate life.  

I am one lucky aunt.

Joy upon joy,

22 November 2008

a better attitude

No family trip this Thanksgiving break. 
No beach. No Vegas. No Memphis. 

I head home tomorrow. I do heart Georgia. 
However, I am afraid I'm going to be taking shots
 for different reasons this year. 

I will have a good attitude about being with (extended) family.  
I do miss my Aunt Ruth. 
It will be great to sleep in and not have to plan out each day. 
I have missed the cooking part the last five years. 
I have not missed the cleaning up part.

Ready or not, here I come family. 
Better attitude and all. 

Grace upon grace...I'm going to need it. 
Georgia Bound BEAT

ps: One day I will tell you how my mom outlawed conversations about politics, money, and religion this holiday.  I hope everyone follows her rules.  

21 November 2008

Photo Friday

London, England

20 November 2008

I hope...

Today's song that will not get out of my head.  
Truthfully, I am a-okay with that!  It's that good. 

Dixie Chicks: I Hope

Sorry for the poor quality, but there were not many options.

Peace upon peace,

19 November 2008

I dedicate this to the ones I love...

If you ask me who my family is, I will probably make a list in this order: (to be revised at any moment)
The Brother, Andrew
The Nine 
(In no particular order: Amber, Megs, Marg, JM, Noe, Katie, Laura, and Court)
Chapelwood UMC
And the rest of the extended family...

The Nine are the focus of this post. (Sorry Mom.  I will dedicate a whole post to you soon. Promise.)  Another  friend's recent post inspired me to share about these wonderful people.  The Nine (or the Girls or Mondays@9 or my besties) are my best friends from college.  We all met within our first week in the magical land that is LaGrange College.  Our friendship developed during a weekly Bible study, where we barely discussed the Bible.  During the years, we lived together in overlapping forms. We have celebrated together: engagements, weddings, job promotions, adopting pets, vocations, and the list goes on.   We have mourned together: endings, deaths, changes, break-ups, and the list continues. 

Because of these experiences, each of you continue to teach me about: God, life, love, failure, success, family, and friendship. We are servant leaders: teachers, preachers, students, missionaries, doctors, and disciples.  We disagree. We are different.  Yet, we are family.  You show me the best of humanity.  Renewed energy. Creativity and imagination. Laughter. Intense dialogue. Flowing tears.  Honesty. Sarcasm. Grace. Joy. You mess up my normal existence in the best ways.  Thank God, we are friends. 

Loves, thank you.  I know it sounds silly, but you do complete me. You know me. For some reason, you love me. Away or together, we are family. Agree or disagree, we are friends. Married or single, we are family.  Conservative or liberal, we are friends.   Damn, we are lucky. 

Soon.  We will be together soon. 

Grace upon grace,
One of the Nine

17 November 2008

I thought about the army (okay, navy)...

Dear Jason,

Tomorrow you start a new career. 10+ weeks of basic. When you told me you enlisted I didn't know what the hell you were thinking. Most days, I still don't.  (I'm being honest with you, buddy.)

You know I don't support war.  We worship a God of peace and harmony.  Jesus Christ told us to turn the other cheek. The Holy Spirit allows us to live as a reconciled community.  We are brothers and sisters in Christ.  We are brothers and sisters with all God's people. 

Yet, you still leave tomorrow.  To serve, protect, and become an adult? To promote peace? To be? Whatever the reason, much thanks.  Like I said on the phone: Blessings upon blessings upon blessings. Like God intends: Grace upon grace upon grace.  Most of all (and this will never change), I love you. 

My brother, be safe. Be wise. Be patient. And in every second, be an agent of divine peace.  

What can I give you other than intercessions and supplications?  Well, I dedicate my favorite Ben Folds' song to you on this eve of your departure.  And letters. Lots and lots of letters are headed your way. 

Enjoy these entertaining words. I love you. And thanks, for being my brother and being dedicated to a cause. 

Grace upon grace, 

16 November 2008

sunday secrets

I love Postsecret. I identify with many of the secrets.  This is my favorite in the last few months.  
I say the laugh lines are worth it.  Don't you? I'm just glad I have so many people that make me happy.  I can't wait to get old.  I mean that.  Life is for living.  Don't you agree?  

Bring on the laugh lines. I can handle it. 

Grace upon grace,

15 November 2008

sustaining conversations

Last night I attended VDS' Sustainability Dinner.  All the food was local (veggies, cheese, bread, wine, and beer).  It was lovely.  Of course the food was good.  No questions there.  The beer even better. 

Because it was at my good friend Jessica's house, I stuck around to clean (just a little), conversate, and take time to just be before the rush of semester's end.  There are only two weeks of classes left before exams (a week break for Thanksgiving in the middle of the madness).  

Though the dinner was focused on sustainability (something we must talk about more in our daily interactions), the conversations after most had left were the real sustaining elements. Let's be honest, most of us were (United) Methodists.  For those two individuals who were not, I apologize for how easily the conversation turned to denominational speak.  The genuine moments of beer in one hand, probably a ginger snap in the other, a smile on my face, and a keen ear are what will sustain be over the next four weeks.  We covered the spectrum: England, prop h8te, marriage, roommates, school, flees, food, church, and even ordination.  Surely I'm forgetting a few. 

Sustaining conversations give you hope.  Rare dialogues that open you to the possibility of change.  Your inner core is stretched and challenged.  I bet you laugh. Lots.  If you allow yourself to be vulnerable, a relationship is fostered in those discussions. Whether between one other or a group, new dimensions of friendship are discovered.  Fuel gets put in the tank.  Seeds are planted.  You come out a little better.  And in the midst, you may just help others be sustained.  

So thanks to those who stuck around, made me laugh, listened to my ongoing rants, and pushed me to think beyond.  Many thanks. 

Grace upon grace,

13 November 2008

Photo Friday

I love themes-parties, sermon series, dinner nights, trips, campaigns and the list continues.  Photo Friday is going to be my one theme day.  I had to limit myself or each day would have a theme.  I want to leave room for the inspiration and guidance of the Holy Spirit.  (Yes, I said the Holy Spirit.) 

The photo featured each Friday will not have an explanation. I may offer details of where and when.  I hope most are of my own taking or at least being present in that captured moment. It is 
for you to ponder and interrupt.  I welcome comments.  Please comment!  Challenge me to think beyond what I know or simply experienced.  Offer your own caption or tagline. I want this to be an interactive experience...for all. 

Grace upon grace,

Tacachia, Bolivia
March 2007

12 November 2008

these boots were made for walking

And walking is what I did today.  Across campus. Up and down stairs.  In circles.  Pacing.  Through the rain.  Against the wind. By the breaking of the morning light. With the setting of the day's sun.  (These fancy and fun shoes accompanied me the whole time.)

My thoughts did some walking today, too.  It was one of those emotionally draining days.  Such a day that required me to come home and decompress.  Sit on the couch.  Not open my computer.  Didn't crack a book (for the first two hours).  Walking thoughts lead to anxiety and...  Well, there are lots of ands.  Stress. Worry. Creativity. Searching. Inspiration. Confusion. Vision. Clarity.  Muddiness. Did I mention anxiety?

The problem with walking thoughts, they turn into running thoughts.  Now let's be honest, I don't run.  Ask friends. I always say, "Jesus walked everywhere."  Nevertheless, I do have walking and running thoughts.  These kind of thoughts can be distracting, leaving me absent in the moment.  I think walking thoughts are necessary, but at some point, you have to keep them in check.  How can I be present for others if I let my anxiety walk me out of the moment?

I did some walking today.  My thoughts did lots of walking today.  I am sorry if I was not present for you.  At least I was wearing cute boots?

Grace upon grace,

11 November 2008

You don't know me...(whisper) at all....

Did you spot Josh Groban?  

This song will not get out of my head.  That's a good thing.  I am beginning to believe the lyrics are true (to some degree).  I kinda like the idea of not knowing someone.  Maybe not "at all."  If I know you completely, where do we go from there?  That's why relationship are beautiful. Static, non-transforming relationship lead to lackluster transactions of....emotionless emotions? complacency? the status quo?

That's why I like people.  That's why I l-o-v-e people. You complicate my life.  Once again, that's a good thing.  Thanks for messing up things, making it complex, and keeping me on my toes.  You don't know me...but we're working on it.  And I don't know you...but I'm working on it.  

Grace upon grace,

ps: Okay, okay.  Maybe you know me a little.  And maybe I know you a little.  Nevertheless, let's keep working on it. 

10 November 2008

taking a stand on the question of love

Whether you agree or disagree, it is an interesting question.  I talk lots about perfect love.  Specifically, I talk lots about perfect love of God and neighbor. When it comes to my neighbor, it is a universal love.  This is a universal love that I am taking a stand on. 

Thanks, Mr. Olbermann.  Thank you for speaking honestly on a sensitive and passionate topic.  Comments welcome. 

damn good friends

The first years at school completed their second exam in Formation today (I am so glad those days are over).  Walking around the Common Room and checking in with them, (being a pastor I say) one stopped me and we chatted for a few.  He mentioned a status I recently posted on Facebook (another means of communication in this day of age that I consider vital and necessary).  The status read, "BEAT has damn good friends."  He responded, "I hope I am one of them."  I laughed, mentioned this requires money and gifts, and gave one big smile. 

Yes Whitney, you are one of my damn good friends.  I am one lucky human!  I may not be "lucky in love" (whatever that means), but I am blessed in love.  I have friends that bring me the greatest joy, challenge me with the toughest questions, love me unconditionally (bless you), and are a main means of grace.  

His hope to be one of my damn good friends reminded me that I must tell those I consider my damn friends just that.  You are my damn good friends, and I l-o-v-e you.  Thanks for keeping me in check.  Thanks for listening to my rants.  Thanks for conferencing with me during the good and the bad, about the good and the bad, and for the good and the bad. 

Three Business Items:
  1. I got a Fortune Cookie tonight and it read: "You will soon be receiving sound spoken advice. Listen!"  I think that is an affirmation of this blog.  I'm ready.  Tell me. I'm listening. 
  2. My favorite blog of the moment: Margaret and Helen                                                                 If you love me and love this blog, please buy me this t-shirt.  I so completely think it reflects my relationship with the Nine.  I'm the big, tall, brash, outspoken one.  Bless me. 
  3. I am United Methodist.  If that is not apparent yet, I don't know what is.  This letter is one reason I am glad to be United Methodist.  The Council of Bishops sent a letter to President Elect Obama and his family, along with signed bibles.  This has been a tradition of the Methodists since George Washington.  Did you know George W. Bush is the only president in history to NOT accept this gesture of hospitality from the Methodists?  Interesting?  I would say so.
Grace upon grace,

09 November 2008

Grateful...Once Again

Every Monday (or Tuesday or it may come on Wednesday), the Nine (a long story, but my BEST friends from the good ole LaGrange) email out grateful lists.  We send five things/people/conversations/experiences we are grateful for.  In my opinion, listing those five things is much harder than expected.  In addition to this, I write letters monthly (yes, monthly) to the Nine.  This month I sent out postcards.  The postcards contained lyrics to this song I can't get out of my head.  I post it now for all. Well, mainly for them.  I hope you enjoy, too.  

It would amaze you how often we list the internet/email/blogs/facebook as something we are grateful for and blessed by.  Let me tell you, we have plenty of holy conferences through email.

Grace upon grace,

Because I finally found a name for it...

Many friends have wondered why I don't have a blog.  I always answered with, "You know, because I don't have time."  Honestly, I wanted to have a title for my blog that I loved.  Curbside Conference reflects one of the hardest and most important theological task any Christian, minister, friend, neighbor, and stranger has on a daily basis.  The Council of Bishops for the United Methodist Church suggest these guidelines for the task of holy (yes, holy) conferencing

Every person is a child of God. Always speak respectfully. One can disagree without being disagreeable.  As you patiently listen and observe the behavior of others, be open to the possibility that God can change the views of any or all parties in the discussion. Listen patiently before formulating responses. Strive to understand the experience out of which others have arrived at their views. Be careful in how you express personal offense at differing opinions. Otherwise dialogue may be inhibited. Accurately reflect the views of others when speaking. This is especially important when you disagree with that position. Avoid making generalizations about individuals and groups. Make your point with specific evidence and examples. Make use of facilitators and mediators. Remember that people are defined, ultimately, by their relationship with God – not by the flaws we discover, or think we discover, in their views and actions.

Or as the good Mr. Wesley (the founder of the Methodist Revival) understood it:
The dialogue guidelines are rooted in the concept of "holy conferencing," an early Methodist principle set forth by John Wesley, the 18th century British founder of Methodism. Bishop Dyck explained that Wesley believed that "holy conferencing" -- Christians conferring together for the sake of peace and truth seeking -- was a "means of grace," even as are Bible reading, prayer, and the sacraments.
I have to thank the wise and practical Bishop Joe Pennel for the theological phrase "Curbside Conference." I hope my reflections express the joy and challenge of peace making and truth seeking with friends, neighbors, strangers, and passersby.  Maybe this blog will keep me accountable, so I will listen actively, speak with care, experience grace, and love deeply.  Join me on the journey as I meet God's people, find guidance from the Holy Spirit, and dialogue through honest and open conversations. 

Grace upon grace...