31 March 2009

Go Heels!

30 March 2009

Welcome to the Old Ladies Club, Katie!

So, I forgot to mail the birthday card I got you. I will mail it. Just not in the next couple of days. It is one of those weeks. I was thinking, "How can I honor my dear friend Katie? Once hallmate. Once roommate. Always friend. I know! Blog tribute."

Here is your tribute:


Happy birthday, dearest.

I love you, always and forever...forever and always.
BEAT

Check Katie out here. Friend. Sister. Wife. Thrifty lady. Teacher. Librarian. 


27 March 2009

Photo Friday

Gala 2008
Nashville, TN
(Better known as Divinity School Prom)

Divinity School students have a fun sense of humor. 
Come on, laugh with us!
Plus the cake was super yummy.

Joy upon joy,
BEAT

Bonus picture of my hot date from last year:

24 March 2009

I wish I could...

I have some new favorite blogs. In particular, I heart Live It, Love it at this moment. She is my age with the same educational level, but very opposite in the way her live has unfolded. Yet, some way, her honesty reminds me of my self.  Honesty with humor and curse words and upfrontness that just can't be avoided no matter how hard you try. I am drawn to her writing/blogging style. Her "TMI Thursday" section will leave you laughing for hours...maybe even days. 

She responded to the following writing prompt (from Twenty Something Writers):
We all have something we want to say to someone. Maybe it’s someone in your life now. Or, maybe it is something you wish you said to someone who is no longer in your life. It could even be Mr./Ms. Random Person that you saw in the local coffee shop today. What do you want to say that you were never able to? You can leave the person(s) identity anonymous, if you’d like. Feel free to feature more than one person. Do it in letter form or any form you prefer. Show us that creativity!

I wish I had the gumption to do this. Since all my closest friends and family read this, even anonymous is hard. Really hard. This could easily lead to hurt feelings. I wonder if these few lines of ranting could lead to permanent damage. How would it end? Weighing that option causes me to not respond to the above prompt. 

We all have things we want to say to someone. Many someones. Many, many, many someones

But what is the goal? Transparent relationships? Openness? Loving truth?

Or does it result in me seeming better than you? Brutal honesty? Brutality? 

My words get me into trouble often. Often. My friends, yes they are still my friends, can tell you stories. Many accounts of how BEAT can't keep her trap shut. I've learned from many of these encounters. 

There are moments when truth telling must happen. When justice is being undermined. When compassion seems unimportant. When steam is coming out of your ears. Words must be used in these moments.  These words must be spoken to create reality. These words must come through the fog of the perceived to allow love to be known. 

That means that such words are not ranting.  They are for the common good of relationships, community, and the church. 

So, I have some things I've never said before. I want to write them here. But I'm not going to share them. They may be for the common good. Most likely, they are not. 

Keeping my trap shut...for once,
BEAT

Ps: Unless you are a person who uses the left lane on the interstate not for passing. It is the passing lane. Everyone say it with me, "The left lane is the passing lane."  Which means you most likely need to go above the speed limit. Above, not below. The goal is passing. People following this one rule of the road would cut down on my daily stress for sure. 

21 March 2009

Happy Birthday, Emily!






Yummy upon yummy,
BEAT

20 March 2009

Photo Friday

"Darius Goes West" 
Athens, GA
And then all over this country.





I've been following Darius' story for many years. I know a few people on the crew who journeyed with him around the country. Follow his story here. Experience the joy. Know about hope. Joy and hope that we are rarely hearing and seeing and knowing these days. Rarely. Buy the DVD!

Support Darius. Listen. Watch. See love. True care and kindness.

Hope upon hope,
BEAT

18 March 2009

Reviewing My Middler



I can't go onto my balcony because of the above. I can't even open my sliding glass doors because of the above. I want to enjoy the lovely marchness of this March. Instead, I took a nap. A suitable trade off if you know me. (And before you ask mom, I have contacted the apartment complex.)

So, I share a story instead of studying outside on my balcony. You know, because of the above.

Last week I had my Middler Review. I like saying, "Reviewing My Middler." Sounds dirty. Makes me laugh. Especially when I remember that my advisors were there. Totally giggling right now.

Over half way complete with this degree. My last degree. Forever. And ever

After writing a five page reflection about my progress inside and outside the classroom, I had an hour interview about my comments. My thoughts on certain aspects of the last year and a half prompted them to ask my opinion about improving the degree program. Never a good choice unless you really, really, REALLY want my opinion. I let'em have it. Just about a few things. Promise. Just a few things. Very few.

Then we got into a conversation about religious leadership. My current work as a religious leader. My future as a religious leader. Viki, Field Education Director extraordinaire, referenced a recent case study I submitted. She said, "BEAT, do you remember what you said to me in one of our first conversations?" (My internal monologue begins: "Lord help me. What is coming back now to bite me in the ass?") Viki continued with, "You looked me in the eye and said, 'I am brash and bold. I tell people what I think. All the time'." (Self thinking: "Yep. Biting me in the ass in 3, 2...") She finished with, "But this case study showed such growth and maturity. Your response was one of care and concern. It was not just about you."

And it was not just about me. It is never just about me. It is about the Creator, Redeemer, and Sustainer of this world. It is about all creation. All creation that has been named good by the Creator, Redeemer, and Sustainer.

It is so easy to forget the big picture when I am in classroom. It is so easy to become jaded about the future. About the church. About humanity. Then someone reminds me of my call. My growth in that call. My love of that call. It is never just about me. Yeah, I know. I still have my moments of being bold and brash and saying things that bite me in the ass. But each day is a new opportunity to live into my call of word, sacrament, and service. To love. To care. To enable humanity to know they have been called good by the God that let's grace be abundant. To prepare the table that is open to all who love the Lord and desire to love the Lord.

It is never just about me. And I am continuing to remember this. To be the religious leader that embodies such abundant grace. To be the pastor that loves all of creation because I was first loved. To be the religious leader that calls humanity to respond to such abundant grace that makes them...loved...whole.

So, I reviewed my middler. And for once, I liked what I saw.

Grace upon grace,
BEAT

ps: Update on the above-Exterminator is coming Friday to kill, kill, kill! There goes loving all of creation.

16 March 2009

100?




The 100th post.

Don't get too excited.

This is my theme song of the week.

You can count on me...until it comes to an exam.

I never pull through. Not failure. But close. Darn close.

Here's to writing papers! Wait. Those aren't my favorite either.

Enjoy the music. Sing along. 

And thanks for reading with me. And entertaining me. Comments and such. Blogs and such.

I appreciate you. I can count on you. But me, you may not be able to count on me.

Love upon love,
BEAT

15 March 2009

Old Sunday Secret


I wish I had been this wise at 17.

So true. 

I keep this secret around because it reminds me of the long range plan. Big picture and such. 

Happiness

Hope upon hope, 
BEAT

14 March 2009

Dogs, Cats, and Creation

Dear Mommy Park,

Thank you for inquiring about whether dogs, cats, and all other animals go to heaven. As I told Megs, I am less concerned with the future understanding of heaven. I think we need to be talking about heaven and hell on earth. Because let me tell you, these are realities now. Anytime someone experiences love, kindness, and forgiveness it is heaven. And anytime someone knows of despair or poverty or deep loss, it is hell. No one can change my mind on those facts. 

So, are animals experiencing heaven and hell on earth? Yes. Let's look at the increased number of puppy mills that are being shut down because of lack of food, health care, and...well, love. Then I remember pet adoption, and this is mercy and justice for animals. 

I could talk about humane ways of killing animals for food. I don't know if you want me to address this. I am not a vegetarian for these reasons, but I think it is something we need to consider. Not just how we end their lives for our nourishment, but we must be critical about what we feed them and inject them with. Eggs are not meant to be this big. Chickens are not meant to be so bulky. And cows are maturing too fast for my comfort. 

My tradition, as a Methodist, calls for me to go on toward perfection. That is a big concept with lots of baggage. Nevertheless, it call me to perfectly love God, neighbor, and creation. Creation is an addition to the normal equation. It is an addition that we must examine because we need it to sustain us...and our crazy lifestyles that we are accustomed to. So, I am going on toward perfection. However you want to understand that. But it does call me radically love God, neighbor, and creation in the most life giving ways. That includes animals. That most defiantly includes animals. And if we can't give them heaven on earth, what does the future matter? The after life? Nothing. 

I am not a fan of calling myself an overseer or a caretaker like the normal Genesis model. We are equal creations in the plan of God. And as creatures, we must respect and love one another equally. We are neighbors on this earth. Neighbors, I say. Does your dog provide you nourishment? Do you provide your dog nourishment? Body, mind, and heart. Heaven in a new way. Heaven in an important way. Heaven on earth, too. 

Every (good) argument requires evidence. So I offer these reflections from others:
1. Words from the thoughtful theologian, John Wesley on the restoration of nature:
The whole brute of creation will then, undoubtedly, be restored, not only to the vigour, strength, and swiftness which they had at their creation, but to a far higher degree of each than they ever enjoyed. They will be restored, not only to that measure of understanding which they had in paradise, but to a degree of it as much higher than that, as the understanding of an elephant is beyond that of a worm. And whatever affections they had in the garden of God, will be restored with vast increase; being exalted and refined in a manner which we ourselves are not able to comprehend. The liberty they then had will be completely restored, and they will be free in all their motions.

2. The words of honest hymns: 
All Creatures of Our God and King
Let all things their Creator bless,
and worship him in humbleness,
O praise him, Alleluia!
Praise, praise the Father, praise the Son,
and praise the Spirit, Three in One

All God’s Critters Got a Place in the Choir
Some sing low, some sing higher 
Some sing out loud on the telephone wire 
And some just clap their hands, or paws, 
or anything they got.

Listen to the bass, it's the one on the bottom
Where the bullfrog croaks and the hippopotamus
Moans and groans with a big to-do
The old cow just goes MOOOOO

The dog and the cat pick up the middle
While the honey bee hums and the cricket fiddles
The donkey brays and the pony neighs
And the old coyote howls

It's a simple song of livin' sung everywhere
By the ox and the fox and the grizzly bear
Grumpy alligator and the hawks above
Sly raccoon and the turtle dove.

3. In the Tradition of St. Francis of Assisi: 
A Litany and Blessing of All Creatures
Gracious God, you created the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them.  You love the whole world – the sunshine and the rain that refresh the weary earth, the outgoings of the morning and the evening, the changing seasons, the plants that grace the earth and the animals that inhabit it. You have given us responsibility both to love and keep the earth clean and fresh that it might rightly reflect your grandeur.  We confess that we often fail to see your purpose and are blinded by selfish pursuits.  We mar this planet by our indifference and insensitivity.  Forgive us, we pray, and help us to change our destructive habits that we may be channels of your goodness. We give thanks to you, O God, for the life and witness of all those who have nurtured the earth – for prophets who remind us of our responsibility, for those who with tenderness minister to all things living, for those who bring their healing touch to the creatures of your hand. Just as God planted a garden in Eden full of blessings, the very Garden of God grows around us here, in other tended green spaces, in farms and gardens which are the source of our sustenance, in forests and in fields.  These plants speak to us in worship and live in God’s Word and world. Release your blessing today on all who stop here and rest.  May they hear you calling deep in their hearts.  Pour out your life to all of the plants and microbes, insects, and worms, and gardeners who together with you weave a tapestry of life in this space and throughout creation. We give thanks to you, O God, for animals who live in our homes, on farms, in the wild and in havens of refuge.  Make us ever aware of our responsibility to these, your creatures, who in so many ways bless us.  Help us to be faithful in caring for them.We remember before you in the silent and deep places of our hearts those animals that have died, but have been special and dear to us.  At this time, may we also remember the animals that are lost, or somehow separated from their owners.  We pray for animals that are in captivity, are pursued, hunted, deserted, abused or exploited.  Make us sensitive to their needs, to protect and guard these creatures that they may sleep in peace and know the joy of loving care. Open our eyes to see any suffering that befalls a part of your creation, open our ears to hear their cry.  Open our hearts to their cause and our hands to their need.  Open our mouths to their defense, and above all, O God, open our lives to your ways.

O God, maker of all, we ask your blessing on every creature gathered here today. May they live peacefully in praise of you. Bless us all to love your creation, and revere its sacredness. We ask this blessing in the name of the one who was, is, and will always be, our Creator, to whom every creature belongs.  AMEN.  

On earth, as in heaven...
BEAT

13 March 2009

Photo Friday

Nashville, TN

Gosh I wish I could contribute this to my amazing photo snapping skills. But it is from Creative Commons. I recently used it for a project. More than anything, it so reflects my work in hospitality over the last eight months. 

Welcome guests,
BEAT

10 March 2009

Beauty Guide?

So, you may think I'm kidding. I'm not. This lady has created a blog giving beauty tips to female clergy. She actually wants female clergy to submit photos of their Sunday outfits...and critique them. Really. No jokes. 

I think she is a pastor herself. Very funny. But it speaks some truth about challenges I continue to face in ministry. Who knew people cared so much what shoes I wear? How I style my hair? The length of my skirt? Whether I wear lipstick? Why I should wear lipstick?

I thought I would share. A good laugh. But just remember, this is my reality. Congregants and fellow clergy examine a female pastor's clothing and grooming habits, well, all the time. I say it frequently, but I can't get away with wearing the same suite every week. I can't just change my tie and look completely different. People remember what I wear. 

Open toe or no?
BEAT

08 March 2009

Tea Time



Various images from my summer trip.

The perfect Sunday afternoon treat. 

A cup of tea please, with one cube of sugar and splash of milk. 
BEAT

07 March 2009

Cooking with BEAT

Ladies and Gents, 

All I want to do is cook. Not so much eat it. Just cook. I've been searching all day for recipes. I normally cook a few things on Sundays for lunch in the coming week. I couldn't wait until Sunday. 

Over the last twenty four hours I've cooked the following:
1. Hummus. Yummy extra garlic hummus. I made way too much. But it was very cheap because I used dried beans. 
2. Guacamole. I did eat all of it because it doesn't keep so well when made fresh.
3. Onion and mushroom quesadillas. This was dinner last night.
4. Onion, pepper, mushroom, and egg breakfast burritos. With salsa covering the top.  I actually had these for brunch. 
5. Scalloped potatoes. From scratch. I just tasted. The rest went into individual containers for the coming week. 
6. Chickpea and onion salad with pomegranate vinaigrette. This was dinner. Lots left over for the coming week. 
7. Strawberry and honey pastry. I found some leftover puff pastry in the freezer. And strawberries are so cheap. I made a warm strawberry compote with honey. 

Next on the list will be rice, broccoli, and faux-chicken casserole. Probably with some cheddar cheese. 

And if you want to know about a great sugar substitute, try out AGAVE. Really wonderful. Even Dr. Oz from Oprah says it is the best. Great in coffee, tea, and cooking. 

I will keep you updated. And trust me, I made most of these dishes for the coming week. The guacamole and strawberry pastry were the best. Plus, when I cook, I never want the food because I'm tired of looking and smelling it. Maybe this is the best diet plan!

Cook upon cook,
BEAT

06 March 2009

Photo Friday




Center, GA
March 2009

My mom served as the lovely photog. Nevertheless, I credit myself because I bought her the amazing camera. 

I was not actually in Georgia for Blizzard 09. I love these pictures. Rascal is the cutest cat ever. Even if she hates me when I come home becaue I take the attention away from her. And yes, I am responsible for the break in her tail (can't see in this picture). Long time ago. Total accident. We both went to therapy for the event. 

Spring forward, 
BEAT

05 March 2009

Road Trip

Megs is my best traveling buddy. Even when I asked if I could take out my contacts and switch to my glasses while driving, she politely agreed. No worries, I pulled off at the next exit to change them out. 

I wish I had pictures to share, but that will probably not happen. The weather was mostly rainy and cold, so nothing special to look at. Unless you count the man in uniform that shared Sunday brunch with us. Talking about hot stuff. 

Megs and I spend many moments planning our next trip. Especially on the drive or flight back. We figure we are going to be single for, well, a long time. And just so you don't worry, we are a-ok with this reality. A-ok. Some may call it independence. Others feminism at its best. Still some, something about being picky. Whatever, I am single. We are single. (Megs doesn't mind me speaking for her. Right, Megs?)

I love road trips. Tough this one did me in for a while. I did about 24 hours of driving over a five/six day period. I enjoy just talking and catching up. I even like the getting lost part. Bad words and all. Bad, bad words. It makes Megs laugh. And we are never bringing that damn GPS. 

I like the moments of silence when the conversation lingers and then trails off. Creating an easy silence. 

Then there is that moment when the silence breaks. Usually by a question. In this case, Rush Limbaugh. Before Megs could even finish the question, I let out the exaggerated sigh. Come on, do you blame me? But I listened. She did repeat the question. And then again. Repeated her concerns over the media's betrayal of his "fail" comment. She made me listen. Take note of the other side. And be more attentive to the whole story. And I didn't want to. But this what we do. Ask the hard questions. Be honest. Listen. Share openly. Dialogue. Curbside conference. Holy conferencing. (FYI: I have a bigger bone to pick with Mr. Limbaugh. Not so much about what he says but more about the enormous contract he recently signed.) 

The silence was broken. And thank God. We've got to do this more. Agree or disagree. Heated or mellow. The questions must be asked. The silence is comfortable. Easy. Safe. Unremarkable. 

The silence must be broken. At some point we have to ask the burning questions. The questions of yesterday, today, and tomorrow. The questions that change us. The world. To create and maintain relationships. 

The problem, I can't wait for another road trip. We can't wait for the next road trip. 
BEAT

I did it!

No post until Thursday. Easier than I thought. I kinda enjoy (maybe too much) unloading my thoughts on y'all. Until later, here is something to hold you over. This is the song on repeat in my head these days. (Starts around the 35 second mark.)