FRIDAY FIVE: Whatcha Hauling?

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

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My coworker looked over with amusement at my purse. It was stuffed to the brim so that I had both hands free to carry a large vase of flowers. We both began to chuckle as I kept pulling out items I needed: communion wine, computer charger, hiliter, tissues, rescue inhaler, and finally my phones (yes… I carry TWO!) It felt like I was carrying Mary Poppins’ carpetbag!

Sometimes, as pastors, chaplains, moms or just itinerant workers, our purses and backpacks do become “carry-alls.” So this made me wonder: what are you carrying around that perhaps you could unload or set aside? Please share:

1. Physical: What do you ALWAYS carry in your purse/wallet/coat pocket/backpack?

I always have tissues and my inhaler. (And my wallet and phone, of course.)

2. Whimsical: Is there a surprise inside? What’s among the unusual items?

My husband got me a “multitool” that is on my keychain It looks like a crazy kind of spork. It is a screwdriver, bottle opener, thread cutter as well as other functions.

Practical: As a chaplain, I always have some breath mints and tissues. How about you?

YUP. ALWAYS have a mini box of Altoids.

Spiritual: Share a question or lesson from your spiritual life that you’re puzzling about.

I continue to wrestle with why human begins try to kill each other to the point of genocide. It makes no sense to me. I worry about the fact that we have yet to learn that this is not the way we are meant to treat one another.

Virtual: Anything you’d like us to help you carry? Or maybe you have a picture, quote or story to lighten another’s load? 

Winter was a long time leaving but it has indeed FINALLY left! here’s a picture of our back yard this week, full of green, flowers, and SPRING! Hang in there, your season of life will change. And all shall be well.

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A FROZEN Friday Five

I hosted the Friday Five over at RevGals yesterday. My schedule was sufficiently hectic that I didn’t get around to posting my own responses. Whoops. Well, better late than never.

When it gets to the end of February, even people who LOVE winter are ready for a new season. Like this mom, sick of snow days and hearing the soundtrack of a specific movie, you might be going a little stir-crazy. With the lyrics of that movie to inspire, tell us:

1. For The First Time in Forever: Tell us about a magical first snow day – for a child, a transplanted southerner, or maybe you have a great story from the first snowfall in your area this season.

There’s something about that first snowfall. The whole neighborhood quiets, and almost seems to take a breath. Before people are out shoveling, plows clearing the roads, tires spinning, etc., there’s a mystical time where you can hear snowflakes hit the ground.

2. In Summer: Tell us what you look forward to when it’s warmer again.

Truthfully, I’m not a hot weather fan. But I am looking forward to a few hours in my hammock chair, listening to the birds and reading/dozing.

3. Reindeers are Better than people: We are in the business of loving people. But sometimes… Well, it’s a bit of a stretch to love. Do you have a tip, a mantra, or a perspective that helps?

There was a song in the early Christian contemporary music biz (I’m dating myself!) called “Loving people” and I think it was sung by BJ Thomas. It reminds me that when I want to just avoid people (or work around them) that it’s not wise. Or loving. These are the lyrics I say to myself when I feel my annoyance factor rising:

Using things and loving people, that’s the way it’s got be.
Using things and loving people, look around and you will see
that loving things and using people only leads to misery…

4. Fixer Upper: Since we are in the season of Lent, what are you doing in the area of self-improvement?

I’m choosing healthy snacks (hard to do when you spend your day in a car, driving from place to place). I’m also engaging in two artistic practices – the Photo-a-Day from RethinkChurch and a Praying in Color doodle.

5. Let. It. Go. What would Elsa do? Are you de-cluttering? Moving on? Accepting a hard reality? Finding freedom?

I’m learning how to recognize how certain issues/people push my buttons and raise my anxiety level. It’s not fun. However, in this process, I am also learning to let go of ever pleasing said people, who seem to delight in nit-picking and making me feel inadequate. As a wise woman pointed out, said person is trying to transfer their anxieties to me, thereby reducing their anxiety load. And I don’t need to load that trailer!

Bonus: Frozen, thawing out or thawed, share a picture from your winter this year!

This is our front walk and driveway on a particularly snowy, blustery night.

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Friday Five: Whining in a Winter Wonderland

I’m hosting the RevGals Friday Five! Play along if you’d like!

It’s official. If you’re in the Northern Hemisphere, you are experiencing winter. SO… tell us:

1. Winter: What do you think about it in general? Do you love it? Hate it? Or say, “meh – it’s just another season!”

I don’t mind it too much. You can always put on more clothes. You can only take off so much and be “legal”.

2. Footwear: Show us or tell us about your favorite winter shoes/boots.

I love my Merrell’s clogs. They are lined with a plush lining. They can handle anything until the snow gets over about 2 inches. Sexy? Nope. Comfy and warm? Yep!

3. Discuss: Pedicures in winter – necessity or silly?

They are part of my self-care and relaxation time. Current polish color: I am Not a Waitress.

4. Toasty toes: Whether you knit your own or buy them, tell us what socks keep your feet toasty warm!

I love my polypropylene socks that wick away the moisture and keep my toes warm. My favorite pair are a charming camo print.

5. Driving me crazy: What do you wish the drivers around you would do to make travel during the winter months a little less nutty?

Calm down. Slow down. And clean off your car. Especially the “hat” of snow on top!

BONUS: What’s the weather like out there? Share a picture so we can shiver or be jealous!

snowdayTaken Wednesday of this week as I was driving between appointments!

Friday Five: O! Christmas Tree!

3dogmom over at RevGals writes:

It’s been a week of wrangling with the Christmas tree at our house. Multiple strands of new lights were strung carefully on the tree for big impact, but here and there malfunctions and blackouts occurred. On the third day we still don’t have fully functional lights, which is problematic mostly because until that is resolved, nothing else goes on the tree.

In light of that (no pun intended) I thought The Christmas Tree might be a good launch pad for today’s FF. So…

1) Real tree, or “fake?”
For years we did the “parking lot tree” or went to a “cut-your-own” farm. Not. Worth. The Hassle.

About 10 years ago, we converted to “fake” trees. About 3 years ago I got a “pre-lit” tree. Honestly, it has been easier. Since I loathe cleaning up pine needles (because, honestly, who do you think was the person who did the clean-up?) I am happy with an artificial tree. Call me unChristian. Whatever.

2) White or colored lights?
Our pre-lit tree is covered in white lights. Outside, it’s a variety of colored lights!!
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3) When do you put up and take down your tree?
We put the tree up during Thanksgiving weekend when our daughters are home. It varies when I take it down. I like to leave it up until 12th Night.

4) Tell us about your favorite ornament (share a picture, if you can).

Oh my goodness… so many. There are hand-made ornaments from our daughters at various ages, and some beautiful etched glass made by one of my sisters.
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5) What goes on the top of your tree (again, share a photo, if possible)?
It’s an electric star that was on our family trees when I was growing up.

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Bonus: Are there traditions about decorating your tree that you’d like to share?
When the girls were born, I started collecting an ornament for them every year of their life. They each have a box of decorations now for their homes (when they start decorating them). I started doing this because the first year I got a tree in my apartment, I had NO ornaments. I made a bunch, but they were really not that pretty. Every year I try to find something that represents what we’ve done as a family. Sometimes it’s shells from the beach. Sometimes it was related to their Halloween costume (hence the dinosaur ornament and a ballerina). Together as we decorate the tree, they put on their ornaments, and then we fill up the space with the many ornaments I have left. Even when they take their personal ornaments, I will still have plenty!

It was a ballerina year!
It was a ballerina year!
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Frank Lloyd Wright ornament (left) from a trip to Falling Water. The aspen leaf (right) is from a family vacation to Colorado.

Oh – the bottom of the tree is decorated with cat-friendly ornaments. Usually we find two or three that have been “repurposed” as cat toys.

No one knows how this happened...
No one knows how this happened…

Friday Five: Festive Forgetfulness

listsThis week I’m hosting the Friday Five over at RevGalBlogPals:

The season of lists is upon us! At least, that’s the way I cope with the many events, worship services, visits and potlucks that squeeze in during this holiday season. So let’s talk about how you cope (or don’t) with celebrating minus the stress.

1. Keeping your ducks in a row: Tell us how you manage the craziness. Lists? That faithful old-fashioned pocket calendar? Smart phone reminders? Wall calendar?

I am a hybrid on this one. I have a large wall calendar in the kitchen that has all of the family appointments, dates and reminders on it. Now that our daughters are young adults, there are fewer things entered on it, but the important ones (when classes are off, family vacation, doctor and dentist appointments) still get written on this calendar. THEN I also enter them on my smart phone to give me a little reminder. Usually I do OK.

Decorating cookies one year
Decorating cookies one year

2. Must-Do Events: What is one event on your list that you look forward to every year and NEVER miss? Not church services — something else that makes the season bright. Bonus points for a picture from a previous year’s event.

Somewhere in the mad rush between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, we have a cookie baking marathon. It depends on other things exactly when we do it (for instance, studying for classes, work schedules and vacation can shift it around a bit.) We make the standard family favorites: sugar cookies, bar cookies, and all kinds of chocolate-added cookies. It’s total havoc but lots of fun.

3. Kitchen disasters of the funny kind: Lighten the mood with one of your best kitchen disasters. What ingredient did you forget to add, or what dish was left to turn to charcoal in the oven? It may not have been funny at the time, but now it always makes you chuckle!

One time I baked an apple pie and forgot the sugar. Of course I used the nice, tart Granny Smith apples because they bake up in a pie so nicely. It was inedible until we peeled back the top layer of pie crust and sprinkled sugar on top of the apples. In my defense, it was after working a 16 hour overnight shift and I was a mom-of-very-little-brain.

4. “Honey, I can’t find the __________!” Every year we turn the kitchen upside down looking for the turkey baster and the cotton  twine for roasting the bird. Do you have a similar kitchen gadget or decorating frustration? Or have you solved a perennial problem and can give us a tried-and-true tip?

I have decided THIS YEAR to bag all of the necessary turkey roasting equipment together and put them IN the large roasting pan when I store it away. Now, how to store the ornament hooks so that I can find them when we decorate the tree… I’ll get back to you.

5. “I’ll never forget…” Tell us about a sweet holiday memory that you want to always ALWAYS remember!

We have a tradition of putting up the creches (manger scene figures) early in Advent. (Yes, I have more than one.) We follow the practice of not putting out Baby Jesus until Christmas morning. Sometimes this meant a mad dash by yours truly before I went to bed to find all the Manger-Babes and put them in place. One year when the girls were fairly young, they made it downstairs ahead of us on Christmas morning, and we heard them exclaim with glee – JESUS IS HERE! JESUS IS HERE! What better way to announce the joy of Christmas!

BONUS: For those of us leading Christmas Eve services, what is on your “MUST HAVE” list for the evening?

I have forgotten these items and am always scrambling, so NOW they are entered on my phone reminder: matches, music, extension cords.

Friday Five: October Random Edition

RevKarla brings us this week’s Friday Five!

Hello gals and pals,
It’s the second Friday of the month, and you know what that is~~~Random Friday Five! Have fun, and enjoy!

1. How do you sign off in your emails, professional and personally? For example, you say “Blessings”,
“Take Care”, “Remember, the Devil is watching you” (o.k. just kidding on that one.) Let us know and why…

Wow. I didn’t really think about this. In some of my professional emails, I type “Peace”. Sometimes I just put my initials. In others I say, “ROCK ON.” Why? Truly it’s a random thing. Just like this week’s Friday Five. 🙂

2. If you were an animal TODAY, what is it and why?

I am a cat. Because I want to nap. Now.

3. If you get snarky, what triggers it? If you don’t get snarky, please, what is the secret?

Perky people make me snarky. Saccharine, chirping, people. Especially early in the morning. It’s why I have this mug:

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4. Look up from your computer/tablet/phone screen. What is the first favorite thing your eyes land on. Describe it. 

This darlin’ kitty who is snoozing…

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5. Do you have a favorite pair of socks? Tell us about them!

My lucky Buckeye socks!!

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Friday Five: “I’ve Fallen, and I Can’t Get Up” Edition

3dogmom from RevGals writes:

A friend had foot surgery recently. Shortly before her procedure she posted on Facebook that she’d never been on crutches before, and asked for tips on how to manage. That put me in mind of my own “down” times, and some of the necessary things I learned from them.

For today’s FF, share with us five things you learned about coping with such a situation. These can be practical tips from the perspective of one needing care or one giving care, or maybe some personal insights gleaned from the experience. Or, anything related, like a humorous situation that resulted.

Well, I had to think on this for a while. I have been fortunate to not (yet) have had a major illness, surgery or accident. I’ve been a friend and companion to many who have, and so I thought about what I learned from others who are in this experience. I also remembered that I did have some challenges recovering from having our children, and I’ve also been housebound recovering from a nasty case of the flu or bronchitis. Small potatoes, my friends… Small potatoes. But here’s some things I have tried to remember!

Nothing lasts forever. Not even winter.
Nothing lasts forever. Not even winter.

1. Nothing lasts forever.

Nothing. Really. Even a “terminal disease” ends in something greater than the present human existence (at least, according to my theology.) So having hope for the future, however God defines it, is my default setting. Even so…

2. It’s OK to be discouraged.

We are real human beings, with real human emotions. When we are faced with a long recuperation, or we don’t QUITE get back to the functioning level where we started, it’s a little frustrating. Wait. A lot frustrating. We must give each other permission to be discouraged. That lingering problem won’t go away overnight. Admitting or voicing our discouragement is a way to put it out there to see, analyze and decide how to move on it. That’s why I think it’s important to…

3. Find people who will listen to you, reflect with you, and help you take the next steps forward.

This is a tough job. You have to be sympathetic, but not buy into the “poor me, poor, poor me” line. When I’m the listener, I try to listen intently for what the person thinks is their way through the current mess. A realistic one, mind you. Overspending your budget and praying to win the lottery? I can’t join you in that one… But I can respond by agreeing with you that you have something to overcome, and then be sincere in my support as you take action. This is also the place where you…

4. Learn that you have to accept help sometimes!

I had severe postpartum anemia after both of our daughters were born. I was so bright white I was glaring. There was no color in my cheekbones. (I didn’t realize how pale I was until I saw pictures, years later, of my anemic self. Geez…) Fortunately, I had a husband and parents who helped enforce the “rest when the baby sleeps” rule. Meals, laundry, cleaning, errands, logistics… someone else was in charge. I gave up the car keys and the grocery shopping. I was fortunate that I had this help, and people wise enough to insist when I was determined to “do it all.”photo-108

5. When the new reality is painful, give yourself permission to grieve the old reality.

It doesn’t matter what it is… you discover you have a medical condition that requires daily pills and regimens. Grieve it. You finally understand that having children means you have agreed to set aside your plans when you have a sick child. Accept it. You realize you can’t eat certain foods ever again if you want to be healthy. Mourn it. You have a diagnosis that (frankly) sucks and scares you. Honor it as best you can, cry when you need to, and live as long as you can. (That last sentence, by the way, can take the rest of your life. That’s not a weekend project!)

FINAL THOUGHT:

The Egyptian philosopher Philo said, “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.”

It may not be visible. It may not be understandable. But in the heart of the suffering person, it is very real. You never hurt anyone by being kind. (I’m still working on that one…)