Friday Five: Push or Pull?

The traffic crawled for over a mile this afternoon and this was most of what I could see:

DO NOT PUSH (if you know what's good for you.)
DO NOT PUSH (if you know what’s good for you.)

It was the inspiration for this week’s Friday Five (which I’m hosting this week over at RevGals). Play along if you’d like!

I am fortunate to have some great encouragers in my life. The ones who know me the best are great at knowing when to challenge me, and when to just chill and let me figure it out myself. SO… think about the encouragers and challenges in YOUR life and tell us…

  1. After achieving a goal, do you set the bar higher, or rest on your laurels? I am someone who pushes herself, always going for that next goal.
  2. Which is better: a kick in the pants or a hug and a cuppa? If I’m struggling, I need “a hug and a cuppa.” I am far too self-critical and have (probably) already kicked myself around the block.
  3. What’s your baseline motivation? Fear? Competition? Not getting caught? 😉 Being seen as lazy. I’ll push past my limits to try and do it better. One of the things I’ve had to learn along the way is to let “good enough” be OK sometimes.
  4. When you’re facing a big challenge, do you need to talk it out, or puzzle it out yourself? It’s kind of a combination. I want to talk about it, but not so that you give me the answers.
  5. Who is in your corner – always? Who helps you achieve more than you imagined you could? (You don’t have to give names) Family. Friends who have gone the distance. Some pretty amazing co-workers. And RevGals that I’ve never met IRL but always have a word of encouragement when I’m feeling defeated.

BONUS: A picture, piece of art or music that expresses your experience of the push/pull process.

I found this in my photo files. It speaks to me of this process of making headway and then falling back into old habits or struggles. I also like the image of being in the process with someone — human or Divine.

Abandoned swingset. Photo credit: Rev. Deb Vaughn
Abandoned swingset. Photo credit: Rev. Deb Vaughn

Friday Five: Go to the head of the Class!

I’m hosting the Friday Five over at Rev Gals. Care to play along??

It’s Back-to-School time! Are you that “A+ Student for life” or the King/Queen of Detention? RevGals want to know! We are all still learning (or re-learning) some kind of lessons!Tell us about your learning edges in:

1. Reading: what’s in your “to-be-read” stack? Fiction? Church leadership? Commentaries?

Here’s a picture… Notice my Kindle is on top. It’s just an unending stack!!  

2. Writing: are you blogging? Journaling? Developing a new book proposal? Or just crafting sermons? Any excerpt you’d care to share? (We won’t grade your penmanship!)

I have been struggling with blogging, to be honest. I have stories to tell… But some of them are impacted by HIPAA privacy rules. I’m still figuring this one out.

I have been mulling over a book idea called “What NOT to say!” It’s meant for all those horrible moments when someone says that trite pablum that makes clergy blanch…

3. ‘Rithmetic: Family budget? Church budget? National debt? What are you discovering about yourself and your church/family when it comes to handling money?

I asked this question, did I!??? Or be quite honest, I’m tired of “the budget” being given as a reason for doing/not doing something. If you are a leader, you learn how to prioritize and pay for what matters. 

4. Music: favorite new hymn or worship band?

To be honest, I haven’t been listening to a lot of Christian music. It’s had a “Jesus-and-the-money changers” feel to it. But I do like the song “My Ev’rything” by Owl City. 

I’m getting new songs these days from my 20-year-old, whose Spotify playlists were fresh and fun! I’m kinda loving Hozier. He’s so raw and real. 

5. Detention: uh huh… If you were supposed to report for detention today, what would be the note on the slip?

Probably being too loud in the restaurant last night while playing the “glamour shot” game. You Google your first name + “glamour shot” and then look at the images that come up with your search terms. Completely silly.

BONUS: Recess! RevGals just want to have fun! What’s your favorite way to unwind?

Hang out in the hammock chair on my back patio with a book. 


Friday Five: Blessed Rest

I’ve already had my “vacation” this summer. While it WAS restful, this Friday Five speaks to a vacation where I am really ON vacation…

1. Tell us about a place (retreat center or other getaway spot) that offers especially good hospitality. What makes it so for you?

I don’t know one so I’ll be reading about ideas from others!

2. Is there a ritual of renewal that you seek, or that you find especially helpful, while on retreat? (naps, reading, knitting, staring out toward a different landscape…)

Walking the beach. Always renews me.   

3. Retreats/getaways often have a way of washing over us with its own gifts, no matter what we may seek from it. Tell us about a time that such a gift made a lasting impression.

I went on a retreat once where there were constant gifts and reminders of God’s love for me. They were sent by people who didn’t know me but wanted me to experience an outpouring of love. It happened all the time.  Every day. All day. Every time a new event started. It was very heart-warming. 

4. Imagine that a gift bag was waiting for you on your bed when you checked in for your time of sabbath. What would you like to find in it?

A map to local haunts or hikes, REAL recommendations of places to eat — not just a list! (and included gift cards), and a free pedicure/spa treatment. 

5.   Besides a dessert buffet featuring chocolate, what is something you would love to see a retreat/getaway offer that is typically not part of such an experience?

Ummm… You had me at “chocolate”!

Bonus: You’ve been granted a weekend off, and the means of getting away is provided. Where would you like to go?

Quiet beach, someplace with an ocean breeze and A/C, and fresh seafood. I don’t have to drive, cook, clean or be with people unless I want to be. Yes, I’m an extrovert. And I enjoy time with my extended family. But time off with my own agenda sounds wonderful. 

Friday Five: The Family Foamhenge Game

This week I’m hosting the Friday Five over at RevGalBlogPals. Play along if you’d like!

During a recent family reunion in Lexington, Virginia, I went with some members of my family to see Foamhenge. the creation of Mark Cline that “mysteriously” appeared one April Fools’ Day. It’s a life-sized styrofoam replica of the real deal. (I kid you not.) If you are in to off-the beaten-path, unique family bonding moments, this will do it.

Every family has their own traditions, quirks and follies. So for this week’s Friday Five, tell us about your family/tribe/clan for these 5 distinctive traits:

1. Favorite Game: We play a multi-handed game of Solitaire (yes that’s an oxymoron). We call it “Th-Wappa-Wappa” for onomatopoeic reasons. It’s hilarious, fast, furious and cutthroat. If you want to be a true member of the family, you learn how to play. And survive. Here’s an overhead shot of the start of one round:

2. Favorite Sports Team: Is there any doubt? THE Ohio State University!

3. Birthday tradition: The birthday person gets to set the menu (within reason) and decide what kind of birthday cake they want. There are candles. We aren’t very strict about the number over a certain age.

4.The place that you collectively call “Home” (even if none of you live there any more.) I’ve been thinking about this one a lot recently. I think I’d have to say Ohio, specifically the southeastern part where our immigrant ancestors had a homestead. If they didn’t cost $30, I’d buy one of these…)

5. Family Vacation Spot: Harbor Island, South Carolina. A lovely corner of the world.

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BONUS: Family Dessert: Everyone has it. That yummy, calorie-laden delight that frequents your table at parties or holidays. Share the recipe, or (if it’s a family secret) share a photo.

Well… this is probably the hardest. We do like our chocolate! The Old Family Recipe that I have made most often is Moorish Eggs (found here on our family cooking blog.)


PSSST!!! There’s a contest going on over at RevGalBlogPals this week! Check it out! There’s a winner every day! 🙂

FRIDAY FIVE: Blooming things

This week I’m hosting the Friday Five over at RevGalBlogPals. You’re invited to play along in the comments if you’d like. 🙂

We often encourage each other to “bloom where you’re planted.” I like the symbolism, but realized that RevGals and Pals hail from all over the world! What blooms in Maryland may be far different than the flowers in your part of the world. So, to celebrate our diversity, show us five plants that bloom around your home or neighborhood. I’m looking forward to seeing the wide variety of beauty we have among us!

Right now in my back yard, there’s …


This peony bush is from a start that was one of my grandmother’s. I love the way the blossoms open so wide and full. They attract all manner of bees, ants and hummingbirds.

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Grandma’s Peony

The Chicago Peace rose is a tea rose. It starts with a dark pink bud and the leaves turn from pink to peach and the blossom opens. This bloom is from last year… this year’s blossoms are just beginning to open!

Peace Rose
Peace Rose

We have a pergola that shades our back patio from the summer afternoon sun. The wisteria vines are slowly beginning to grow over the top and across the rafters now.

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Wisteria blooming on the pergola

More flowers from my grandmother! I’ve been dividing and moving the rhizomes as they are rapidly outgrowing (and overcrowding) their flower bed!

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Grandma’s Irises
and Clover!

I have the kind of yard that sprouts crabgrass, dandelions and clover. Obviously, our latest tenants in the warren out back are partial to clover! I love that they nibble off the stem from the plant, and then slowly chew down the stem until the flower is consumed last. (I guess it’s the rabbit’s version of slurping spaghetti?)


Friday Five: Recovery Edition

Over at RevGalBlogPals this week, I’m hosting the Friday Five! Play along if you’d like!

That was the air rushing out of our collective pool of energy. Whether you led one small service or 5 huge ones, let’s talk about recovery mode. In less than 48 hours, there’s another Sunday service, or a weekday ministry starting up again. So, tell us:

1. What’s your “chill out” foot gear? Slippers or socks? Or Birkenstocks? (Poem not intentional)
I’m a “Wicked Good” slippers kind of gal. Or I’m barefoot. Really not much in-between!

2. A holiday treat or beverage that just makes you say “AAAAAAHHHHHHH!!”
Peppermint hot chocolate. In a nice tall mug. With a lap blanket. And a purring cat.

3. What sight or sound moved you during the season? (This can be good or bad.)
Seeing the response to the labyrinth made of Christmas lights at our “Longest Night” service. First, that my family created it (in less than 2 hours!) Second, how it touched a spiritual chord with the participants. I blogged about it here…)

4. With whom did you enjoy sharing time with over the Christmas season?
My beloved, our daughters and two wonderful “Plus One” boyfriends. Not everyone was here at the same time, but it has made our break an enjoyable one. Full of activity in the kitchen and with much use of bandwidth and the comfy couches.

5. Was there someone missing from your festivities? How are you doing with that?
Work schedules and family prevented our traveling south this year. And finances prevented plane flights in our shorter window. I missed seeing my family (sibs and Mom).

BONUS: A photo of a bodaciously wonderful present, delicious food, or lovely place that was a part of your holiday.
How about these cookies? (And everyone needs more cowbell!)


Friday Five: sweet or Salty?

I’m hosting this week’s Friday Five over at Rev Gals…


Beggars Night. Harvest Party. Hallowe’en. Trunk or Treat. All Hallows Eve.

Call it what you want, there’s plenty of holiday love for sweet treats on October 31st. (Consider this your one week warm-up.)

Ain’t gonna lie… Even though there are no Trick-or-Treaters in our home, I still eye the candy aisle with undisguised lust.


What shall it be? Can I resist? Maybe you have a craving for a little something from time to time… join me for this week’s Friday Five!

1. First, Sweet or Salty? Or both? Describe that gotta-have-it treat. (It can be healthy or paleo-friendly, or decadent. We won’t judge!)
I like crunchy and salty with touches of sweet. Home made Chex Mix is da bomb. So are peanut granola bars.

2. Self-control: How do you help yourself stay strong with the temptation of All That Sugar?

I do better with self-control when I don’t have snacks after dinner. I also have a meh relationship with dark chocolate. Since that’s the main kind of chocolate around here, I’m doing OK.

3. Have you successfully cut (or decreased) sugar out of your diet? How did you do it?

Nope. Hasn’t happened for me. I’ll be reading others’ responses.

4. What’s one sweet you won’t do without. Ever.

Chocolate. Duh.

5. Just for fun: if you were a candy bar, which one would you be?

Since sometimes I feel like a nut… I guess I’m an Almond Joy.

BONUS: Share a recipe or tip that uses up the leftover sweets at your house.

We used to take the leftover candy and save it to decorate gingerbread houses. Worked really well. (I was also reminded by my progeny that I send the leftovers to college students I love. They never object.)