26 September 2007

Don't Mess with Texas!

Big trucks, big hats, big buildings, and lots of food. I'm still not sure how I feel about Texas. I'll tell you one thing though I did like the first visitors station that I stopped at.

They had a great memorial to WWII soldiers. I drove and drove through Texas...first Dallas/Fort Worth and I stopped for the night in Waco, TX. I didn't do much in terms of sight seeing I think at that point I was just too tired. I drove the next day through Austin where I saw a restaurant called Baby Acapulco also known as Baby A's. I really need to eat there. I have a feeling that Texas may just be able to handle my love of Mexican food, BBQ, and beer. It's also a great place if you love country music and rodeos.

So I drove through Austin and made my way to San Antonio. I got lost once but other wise found my apartment complex without too many problems. I had a nightmare in the first apartment they gave me. I don't think I can describe it but I found out that they hadn't cleaned it yet. So they set me up in another apartment that seems to be more to my liking and is clean. It's no where near as nice as my 1000 sq ft two bedroom with a balcony in Saint Cloud but it's cute and cosy for here in Texas. I have some pictures of it empty...I'll take some more once I get my furniture all set up.

A long time no blogging

I've not been blogging in some time. I want to use the excuse that I've been busy but you know what even I can find 20 minutes to spend talking to all of you, who I know just wait for my latest entry. I promise to catch up over the next few days. It will mean some blogging about the past but I know that you will forgive me.


19 September 2007

A great big shout out to Nancy!

On my three day journey from Saint Cloud, MN to San Antonio, TX I had numerous adventures. It's really hard not to have some adventures when driving alone for 1300 miles over three days. Some of my favorite stops/adventures/experiences are worthy of sharing them with all of you.

Iowa. I'll have to admit it. I really like Iowa. I know that it is braking some law because I'm from Minnesota but I really like Iowa. I made my first stop in Manly, Iowa. With a name like that I just had to stop. It wasn't very manly but it was fun to see the sign. I continued driving until I had to stop again....Woolstock, Iowa. I just needed to see it. I was laughing to myself thinking "so this is where knitters go to party."

If you take 35 down through Iowa you also drive right into Madison County, as in The Bridges of. I had stopped there last year when I took a road trip to Kansas City but I had to stop again. There is something about covered bridges that make me stand in awe. I stopped and brought some flowers to the Imes Covered Bridge which is right off of 35. It was my own way of remembering the 35W Bridge Collapse in Minneapolis. I really don't think I'll ever look at bridges the same again.

I drove right through Missouri and Kansas without much thought. Actually I remember thinking in Kansas that it doesn't look this big on a map and will I ever get out of here. I made my overnight stop in Guthrie, Oklahoma. I wanted to sight see the next day in Oklahoma City so I wanted to be close by.

I stopped at the Oklahoma City National Memorial. It is a tribute to all the lives lost in the Murray Building bombing on April 19, 1995. 168 chairs representing a perpetual memory of each of the deceased. It is a powerful memorial.

After I went to the Memorial I had to made a stop at the Oklahoma City Museum of Art. It houses the most comprehensive collection of Dale Chihuly glass in the world. So I took a few hours and wandered the museum. I'm in love with a piece called Autumn Gold Persian Wall.

This piece made me cry it was so beautiful to look at. There was something so comforting about the colors and the movement of it. I think it was what I needed after having just been at the memorial. I also loved Neodymium Spears and Jerusalem Cylinders. I loved Chihuly's work before I went to see this exhibit but I'm even more in love with it now. After that I left Oklahoma City and continued on to Texas.
I made one more stop in Oklahoma. I stopped to see Nancy at "Original Fried Pies" at Exit 51 on I-35. There were two experiences that happened during this stop. The first is that I had my very first fried pie. Nancy makes the fillings fresh and the pie crust is amazing. You can almost feel your arteries being clogged but it is a small price to pay to for the heavenly taste of one of her fried pies. I had an peach and a sugar free apple but they have pecan, cherry, pineapple, blackberry, apricot, and a few cream like lemon and chocolate.
After I had my fried pies or at least half of each because even I can't eat two whole fried pies. I stopped in to use the ladies room. OHG! I have never in my life wished I had my camera in a bathroom before. This used to be a two person bathroom with divided stalls but they have taken out the stall doors and to add to that. Someone cut a large square hole in between the stalls. They cut it in the right spot so that you can see the face of the person who is sitting next to you when you talk to them. If you use this bathroom make sure you really like the person who is using it with your or do as I did and lock the door behind you.
I still have to say that if you are ever in Oklahoma near Exit 51 you have to to stop in! But remember to be careful in the bathroom!
I drove into Texas not long after that but I think that Texas needs its own post.

02 September 2007

The First of the Lasts....

Last Sunday I began my journey into what I am calling the first of the lasts. I've been serving Peace United Church of Christ as their summer pastor for the last three months and last Sunday was my last Sunday with them. It was really bitter sweet for me. On one hand I am beyond exhausted. I work full time (about 50 hours a week) as a chaplain for the VAMC - Saint Cloud and then I spent the summer adding an extra 20 hours a week being part time pastor. I think that is the bitter part. I've had no down time all summer. The sweet is that I loved pastoring this church. It was an amazing experience for me.

So during announcements the church gave me a gift and told me how much they have enjoyed having me there. I preached my final sermon and at Peace we always end by saying "Shalom" and right after I said it the church gave me a standing ovation. I stood in the pulpit and cried but it was my first...well the first of all the lasts that I will be doing over the next 10 days.

I preached my final sermon at the VA here today and did my final Sunday service on the dementia unit. I've been walking around and lots of people have been saying goodbye and giving me hugs. I've heard dozens of "You can't go." and "I'm not letting you leave." It's harder than I thought it would be. I've only been here for a year and for me that is barely enough time to really get settled but somehow I did it. I got nice and comfy here in Saint Cloud, MN.

I have several friends here now who ask me daily to stay and why would I, why would anyone, want to move to Texas? They are going through the same process that I am and doing some grieving. My parents have become almost clingy in the last few weeks as I've been getting ready to go.

I really did think that it would be easier than this. That leaving wouldn't be so hard or sad but it is. I am excited to be going to San Antonio and looking forward to all the challenges that being there will bring, the new places and people, new ideas and ways of processing, a different landscape to paint this next part of my spiritual/physical/emotional journey on and I'll admit it I'm also looking forward to another 4 units of CPE.

As I go through this time of the lasts...I am also going through a time of firsts. It's true that a door doesn't close unless there is a window open.

25 August 2007

Where has my summer gone....

I have been so bad about posting on this. I guess that having two jobs for the summer wasn't the brightest idea but I have loved every moment. Tomorrow I preach my last sermon at Peace UCC here in Saint Cloud and then I'm down to one job only. I still need to finish my packing as in about 18 days I am moving from my very lovely home here in beautiful central Minnesota to San Antonio, Texas to begin the next phase of this ministry journey. I will have to update more as I pack and get ready to move. I have to say that I'm really tired of moving every year.

08 June 2007

Created in the Divine

Today was the first day of the Minnesota Conference UCC Annual Meeting. It is my first meeting as a member of the UCC and I have to admit that it has been an amazing introduction into the fold. I got to reconnect with people that I haven't seen since this fall and I've meet so many amazing new people. I really feel welcomed. I wasn't sure how I was going to feel because last week was the Minnesota Annual Conference of the UMC and I do miss all the people that I know and get to connect with there. I will admit they are VERY different meetings in tone and presentation...and size. We meet on the campus of The College of Saint Benedict's in Saint Joseph, MN and I took some pictures to share with all of you who out in blogging land...I hope that you will all join me this weekend as I continue my updates.

This is the campus.
Everyone is dancing in this photo...I don't think I have words that express how great the band from Peace UCC in Duluth is.
We got so into the dancing that a conga line sort of thing happened around the meeting floor. The conference minister was even dancing...too bad I didn't get a photo of that.
We served each other communion at our tables and it was really lovely. This is a photo of the communion that had been set up for the closing worship service. I had to take a photo of all of that bread.
Join me tomorrow for even more pictures from Annual Meeting and some photos from the Big Brothers Big Sisters opening event for the Golf Classic. I'll be at both parties tomorrow. And then back in the pulpit on Sunday morning. Feel free to join me on Sunday morning at Peace United Church of Christ in Saint Cloud, MN for worship. I'll be there all summer!

26 May 2007

Pastoral Idenity

Over this last year I've been participating in a year long CPE residency and it has been one of the best educational /ministry processes that I've been able to partake in to date. It has been such an enlightening process that I've decided to do another year of it. I'm at the end of my third unit and working on pastoral identity as one of my main goals. I don't always enjoy looking at issues of identity because they never seem objective or concrete to me. So I decided to dress the part of religious clergy for a while during this unit and look at how others respond to me and watch my own behaviors when I look like a clergy person. There was a photo taken so that I can see how I look and well it made me giggle. I look like a kid playing dress up. Here take a look:

Now please...don't I look like a twenty year old playing dress up? I had to go in the other night for a death that happened and this is how I was dressed. As I was at the nursing station writing the final chaplain note the doctor who came to pronounce looked at me and said, "Every time I see you I think 'This kid can't be the chaplain. She's just a teenager.' Then I remind myself that you are a young chaplain. I do have to say that the collar you are wearing gives you a bit more creditability." I wasn't sure how to take this comment or if it was positive affirmation or a slam. I now have something to think about.

22 May 2007

You May Be a Social Worker if...

1. Strangers come up to you and tell you their life story and before you realize it, you've completed a psychosocial assessment, refereed them to a support group and given them the name of a counselor to call.

2. You know the suicide crisis phone number, the food shelf and the community shelter phone numbers right off the top of your head.

3. You know where to find "free" anything (cloths, food, equipment, transportation) but you are not eligible for any of them yourself.

4. You are considered an "expert" with financial assistance for your low-income individuals but you can't keep your own checkbook balanced.

5. Staff you work with will pull you aside and consult you on their "hypothetical" problem and you can't charge them for your advice.

6. You have a file or a list posted in your office on "Stress Reducing Techniques."

7. You see a patient/client outside the work setting you immediately avoid talking to them for fear they will tel you how "really bad" they are doing and make you feel obligated to follow-up with them later.

8. After a long week of solving other people's problems, you recognize that you haven't dealt with your own at home.

9. You don't know what "sick days" are and you call your vacation time "long mental health breaks."

10. You have community resource phone numbers at your fingertips but can't remember your kids' dentist, doctor or teachers' phone numbers.

11. The clinical staff find the patient/family situation appalling and in urgent need of intervention and in your "social work" opinion, you don't really think it's all that bad (and question what the fuss is all about?!)

~This list written by: Rena Sespene-Hinz LICSW

I thought that this was a trip and found myself transposing "social worker" with "chaplain." Can we come up with a "You May Be a Chaplain if..." or "You May Be a Pastor if..."

Gimme Story

A friend of mine (Elizabeth Jarrett Andrew) is a writer...she has written books, one of which had a profound impact on my spiritual journey. She also writes a piece for the monthly church news letter and this past month what she wrote hit home in some strange way for me. I'm not sure where or how it resonates but I know that every time I read the words she has written some echo is left inside me. She wrote:

Because I've published two books with the Unitarian publisher, Skinner House, I occasionally get invited to preach at UU fellowships around the state. Humanists emerge from farmsteads and drive long distances to gather in tiny churches, often bough second-hand from Christian Scientists or other fringe congregations; they decorate the walls with religious symbols of every tradition, and light a candle at the beginning of the services to symbolize the flame of truth. I relish the chance to read Thoreau's words responsively on a Sunday morning. I admire the Unitarians terribly-after all, they (and not the more cautious Christan denominations) willingly publish my work.

And yet I must always be prepared in such circumstance to field the question, "How can you stay a Christian?" In other words, how can I, a bisexual woman with a sharp head on my shoulders, believe the Jesus-is-the-way claptrap and put up with the accompanying dogmatism of the institutionalized church? Unitarians are smart cookies; they acknowledge many paths winding toward one truth and have made a religion of this diversity. Those of us mired in a singe tradition, especially if an exclusive one, seem to them a bit primitive.

Here is my answer: I need story. Sure, Buddha's or Mohammed's story would work fine, but I've been given Jesus' story and I'm willing to stick it out. When people of faith commit to a story, we inhabit its ethos, its ethics, its characters and setting and circumstances; we accept the story's heritage, the burdens of its misuse and the glories of this unique path.

What Unitarians (and, incidentally, most fundamentalists) trip over is the seeming incompatibility of accepting many paths to one truth and believing the truth of one particular path. How, for instance, can a Christan believe Jesus is the way, truth, and life and at the same time honor the absolute integrity of Judaism? Ah, paradox!

Here's how I resolve this koan: God's a master story-teller. Great stories have arisen from the fabric of history and become faith traditions.

They are all true, and none are true. They're all perfect and flawed. Each on is worthy of a lifetime of immersion, because only from within a story can we fully appreciate its author.

Ever feel like you Horoscope is right on the money?

My horoscope today felt like it was written just for me. It said:

Just because you have a high level of integrity and are willing to do the spiritual work required by your beliefs, don't think you are better than everyone else. Be careful about self-righteousness; it will only isolate you from those you love. It's healthier to realize that everyone is on their own path and is exactly where they should be at this time.

I hate when my horoscope looks me and says, "I told you so."

21 May 2007


They actually let me graduate. I still can't believe it. I spent the plane ride back to Minnesota looking at the degree just to make sure it wouldn't disappear.

03 May 2007

We are all a little strange...

Jeff tagged me on this latest meme. It's purpose is to list six (I only get six?) weird things about me then tag six other bloggers. I guess here is my top six...

1. In order to dust my office I have to take each book off the shelf and dust each and every book before I put it back on the shelf. It takes me three or four hours just the clean my office. There are also people who will point out that I have my books in order by size...now they are in order by the library of congress system of cataloging. It took a really long time.

2. I can't mix my food and I get upset when my food touches. If I have chicken, steamed veggies, and mashed potato's on my plate I have to all of one thing before I can go on the other.

3. When I'm really tired I sometimes forget to take my socks off before I get in the shower. Oh, I sleep with socks on.

4. My college diploma, which cost a mint, used to hang in my bathroom.

5. When I was able to eat french fries I used to like to eat them with tarter sauce and I like Thai peanut sauce on my vanilla ice cream.

6. I talk to televisions. When characters in movies are doing stupid things I yell at them. There is a murder in the house and we think they might be in the basement so lets go down to basement and not turn on the lights or bring any kind of a weapon. You have to love bad movies.

P.S - I'm not going to tag anyone else to do this. If you want to play the Meme...feel free to join in.

Use of Wiccan Symbol on Veterans' Headstones is Approved

I keep meaning to blog about this...but I can't seem to find the time so I thought that I would post the article. It is from the New York Times on April 24, 2007. I was so happy with the way this lawsuit turned out.

WASHINGTON, April 23 — To settle a lawsuit, the Department of Veterans Affairs has agreed to add the Wiccan pentacle to a list of approved religious symbols that it will engrave on veterans’ headstones.
The settlement, which was reached on Friday, was announced on Monday by Americans United for the Separation of Church and State, which represented the plaintiffs in the case.
Though it has many forms, Wicca is a type of pre-Christian belief that reveres nature and its cycles. Its symbol is the pentacle, a five-pointed star, inside a circle.
Until now, the Veterans Affairs department had approved 38 symbols to indicate the faith of deceased service members on memorials. It normally takes a few months for a petition by a faith group to win the department’s approval, but the effort on behalf of the Wiccan symbol took about 10 years and a lawsuit, said Richard B. Katskee, assistant legal director for Americans United.
The group attributed the delay to religious discrimination. Many Americans do not consider Wicca a religion, or hold the mistaken belief that Wiccans are devil worshipers.
“The Wiccan families we represented were in no way asking for special treatment,” the Rev. Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United, said at a news conference Monday. “They wanted precisely the same treatment that dozens of other religions already had received from the department, an acknowledgment that their spiritual beliefs were on par with those of everyone else.”
A Veterans Affairs spokesman, Matt Burns, confirmed that the “V.A. will be adding the pentacle to its list of approved emblems of belief that will be engraved on government-provided markers.”
“The government acted to settle in the interest of the families concerned,” Mr. Burns added, “and to spare taxpayers the expense of further litigation.”
There are 1,800 Wiccans in the armed forces, according to a Pentagon survey cited in the suit, and Wiccans have their faith mentioned in official handbooks for military chaplains and noted on their dog tags.
At least 11 families will be immediately affected by the V.A.’s decision, said the Rev. Selena Fox, senior minister of Circle Sanctuary, a Wiccan church in Wisconsin.
In reviewing 30,000 pages of documents from Veterans Affairs, Americans United said, it found e-mail and memorandums referring to negative comments President Bush made about Wicca in an interview with “Good Morning America” in 1999, when he was governor of Texas. The interview had to do with a controversy at the time about Wiccan soldiers’ being allowed to worship at Fort Hood, Tex.
“I don’t think witchcraft is a religion,” Mr. Bush said at the time, according to a transcript. “I would hope the military officials would take a second look at the decision they made.”
Americans United did not assert that the White House influenced the Veterans Affairs Department. Under the settlement, Americans United had to return the documents and could not copy them, though it could make limited comments about their contents, Mr. Katskee said.
Americans United filed the lawsuit last November on behalf of several Wiccan military families. Among the plaintiffs was Roberta Stewart, whose husband, Sgt. Patrick Stewart, was killed in September 2005 in Afghanistan.
Ms. Stewart said she had tried various avenues to get the pentacle approved. Late last year, Gov. Kenny Guinn of Nevada, her home state, approved the placing of a marker with a pentacle in a Veterans Affairs cemetery in Fernley, east of Reno. But Ms. Stewart said she had continued to pursue the lawsuit because she wanted the federal government to approve the markers.
Other religious groups that have often opposed Americans United supported the effort to have the government approve the pentacle.
“I was just aghast that someone who would fight for their country and die for their country would not get the symbol he wanted on his gravestone,” said John W. Whitehead, president of the Rutherford Institute, which litigates many First Amendment cases. “It’s just overt religious discrimination.”

29 April 2007

The Way I See It...

I've been spending some quality time at my local Starbucks writing my final paper and my APC (Association of Professional Chaplains) competency essays...OK and my Level II CPE Application essay. So in the midst of all of this mad writing I actually take a moment and read what is on the back of my Starbucks cup. I gave me a giggle even if to some degree I can't agree totally with theology behind it...Ithink this is my favorite one to date!

The Way I See It #230

“Heaven is totally overrated. It seems boring. Clouds, listening to people play the harp. It should be somewhere you can’t wait to go, like a luxury hotel. Maybe blue skies and soft music were enough to keep people in line in the 17th century, but Heaven has to step it up a bit. They’re basically getting by because they only have to be better than Hell”
~ Joel Stein Columnist for the LA Times

23 April 2007

Feeling Older

So I haven't blogged in a while, at least not more than putting together a Friday Five. Which really isn't a blog it's sort of blog filler but still it is sort of fun. So...the reason I haven't really posted on my blog is sort of a two fold reason. The other resident that I worked with chose to leave the VA to pursue other ministry options so for the last month or so I've been two CPE residents rolled into one. Needless to say, I have begun working overtime for which I am not paid and taken on more and more responsibility here, also for which I am not paid but my CPE Final Evaluations make me look like I can walk on water. I think I would rather be able to turn water into wine. It seems the only thing I can't do is self care.

In the midst of all this working and finishing up my last class for seminary my body decided to let me in on a little secret. I'm no longer 22. In fact I'm pushing 30. I can't abuse my body the way I used to and I found this out last Monday when the muscles in my lower back decided to pinch a nerve and I couldn't walk. I was off site at a CPE meeting and my Supervisor had to take me to the ER. (That is another story that I will have to share. Going to the ER with three professional chaplains.) And to add insult to all this injury...I found yet another gray hair on my head. I must be getting old.

13 April 2007

Friday Five: Oh...The Chairs We Find Ourselves In

This week's Friday Five is brought to us by Cheesehead and ReverandMother who have both sat in dental chairs this past week. In remembrance and honor of these two brave women who have survived a trip to the dentist humbly I offer my play at the Friday Five.

1. Are you a regular patron of dentists' offices? Or, do you go
a) faithfully, as long as you have insurance
b) every few years or so, whether you need it or not
c) dentist? what is this "dentist" thing you speak of?

A. My answer is A. Less than a year ago I had my braces removed. While I was wearing braces I went to the Orthodontist monthly and the Dentist every four months. I got twice a year faithfully, insurance or no insurance. I have invested WAY too much in my teeth to not have them cleaned and checked regularly.

2. Whatever became of your wisdom teeth?

I had four wisdom teeth and one was removed, so now I have three. The other three are still in my head but they don't seem to want to come down at all and my dentist doesn't like to do oral surgery for no reason at all so I get to keep them until they start to bother me.

3. Favorite thing to eat that's BAAAAAD for your teeth.

Gummy Peach Rings and Sour Gummy Worms. If you don't tell my orthodontist I ate them when I was wearing braces and that is a big no-no.

4. Ever had oral surgery? Commiserate with me.

I had one wisdom tooth removed but that's it and to be honest it wasn't a bad experience at all. Now if you really want to remember pain...lets talk about braces.

5. "I'd rather have a root canal than _________________."

have to go and visit my grandmother in Vermont. I lovingly call her "The Wicked Witch of the East." I really do think that she killed my grandfather.

Bonus: Does your dentist recommend Trident?

No. With the number of fillings I have my dentist doesn't recommend any kind of gum to me at all. If I need fresh breath it's Listerine Fresh Strips for me.

30 March 2007

Friday Five: Holy, Holy Week, Batman!

This week's Friday Five is brought to us by the number 30 and the letter R, for Reverend Mother that is.

Well, the Clergy Superbowl is almost upon us, and so, I offer up this Friday Five (with apologies for the irreverent title): (Reverend Mother...there is no such thing as an irreverent title...but then again I have been called the irreverent Reverend.)

1. Will this Sunday be Palms only, Passion only, or hyphenated? Oh this Sunday is all about hyphen. It is Passion-Palm Sunday at the VA Medical Center in Saint Cloud, MN. There will be a procession with palms and a blessing of palms but we will be reading and reflecting on the Passion story. The only thing I'm really going to miss is giving palms to the kids and watching them hit each other with them. It always amuses me.

2. Maundy Thursday Footwashing: Discuss. Alas, there will be no footwashing. I actually enjoy this very much because it reminds me to be humble. It reminds me that I am here to serve God and others. I always think of footwashing as the Christian way of saying, "Namaste." It's how I say to others that I see God's presence in your life and how others say that to me. I know that some people think it's gross but it has a significant personal impact for me.

3. Share a particularly meaningful Good Friday worship experience. You mean they are not all particularly meaningful? Seriously though, one that holds a great deal of meaning for me happened when I was 22ish. I was still attending a Catholic Church in Saint Paul, this was before I became Protestant, and I has already began to discern my own call to ministry with the help of a few pastoral mentors. I was sitting in service and listening to reading and had this feeling. I'm sure that John Wesley would call it a "stirring of the heart" or something like that but I knew in that moment that going to grad school for anthropology was the wrong path and that I had to go to seminary. It made no sense, it was completely irrational but God was asking me to follow faith and I followed. I'm still following in hopes that someday I'll know where I'm going.

4. Easter Sunrise Services--choose one:a) "Resurrection tradition par excellence!"b) "Eh. As long as it's sunrise with coffee, I can live with it."c) "[Yawn] Can't Jesus stay in the tomb just five more minutes, Mom?!?" I choose D...all of the above. I enjoy Easter Sunrise Service but I have to have coffee present. I know that rising from the dead and all took a lot of energy and I should have enough to at least go and be apart of the service but lets be honest...if Jesus had Starbucks in his time he would have had a Venti Soy Two Splenda No Foam Latte before getting up too. :) OK...so on rainy and cold Easter Sunrise Services it's harder to enjoy them and to want to be apart of them but there is something about being up that early in the morning and seeing the sun come up that creates this sense of awe and wonder in me. God really is great!

5. Complete this sentence: It just isn't Easter without...Bonus: Any Easter Vigil aficionados out there? Please share. Confession. It's the raging Roman Catholic still in me. I still need to go to a service of confession before I can really enjoy Easter. I have this need to tell God all of the things that I forget to say. I know that I'm strange but I enjoy being that way.

19 March 2007

Wonderful Women

I went to a day long retreat recently called "Wonderful Women." It was hosted by Mizpah United Church of Christ and part of the reason that I went is that I'm in the process of leaving the United Methodist Church for the United Church of Christ. I wanted to get to know people and what better way then to spend a day with a bunch of active lay women like these....

So I went to this church event and something happened that I wasn't expecting. You see, I actually enjoyed myself, I learned something, I connected with other women and found out that I'm not a total freak. That there are others who think like I do and struggle with some of the same things that I struggle with. It was nice to not feel alone. To just make my day a bit better, I found that I made a few good friends who I will be very happy to see this summer at Annual Meeting. You know maybe I'll even send in that volunteer application and spend my summer over at...

02 March 2007

Friday Five...A Ministry of Creativity

Today's Friday Five is brought to us by the letter R...ReverandMother that is. She says:

During Lent here at Suburban Presbyterian Church, we are exploring the creative and liturgical arts, with classes and speakers dealing with storytelling, iconography, dance, visual art, writing, and so on. The theme is "A Beautiful Thing," inspired by the story of the woman anointing Jesus and his declaration that "She has done a beautiful thing for me." (Mark 14, NIV) We are working on the notion that everything we do can be considered a beautiful thing--a creative offering to God--whether it's gardening or scrapbooking or accounting or sorting clothes at the clothes closet or child-rearing. And so:

1. Would you call yourself "creative"? Why or why not? I would call myself creative but not "artsy." Like many people I had the third grade art teacher who told be I was hopeless at painting and drawing. I am creative in my use of words and ideas. I guess I'm verbally and intellectually creative. I am creative in how I structure and implement worship. I'm a very creative cook, sometimes too creative. Some of my cooking creations can border on frighting.

2. Share a creative or artistic pursuit you currently do that you'd like to develop further. I am currently working on using PowerPoint and other multimedia in worship formats, as well as in didactic presentations. I would love to become more adept and using PowerPoint, and other programs, in a more creative fashion. Like adding music tracks to them.

3. Share a creative or artistic pursuit you have never done but would like to try. Watercolor painting. I've never done it. I guess I felt so defeated by my third grade teacher that I never really took art. I took art history instead. I would love to learn how to paint using watercolors. The way artists can make the color very vibrant or more washed out is something that is very pleasing to my eye. I would also like to learn how to relax. The art of doing nothing. I'm very much a Martha and I guess I sort of envy Mary (not that Mary was doing nothing.)

4. Complete this sentence: "I am in awe of people who can _____________." Play the piano. I am also in awe of people who can knit and have a conversation at the same time.

5. Share about a person who has encouraged your creativity, who has "called you to your best self." (I'm pretty sure that's from the Gospel of Oprah.) Katherine. She always encourages my creative use of verbal expression but she also taught me how to put colors together in my wardrobe. She continues to encourage me to put colors together that I never thought would match but look great. She also brought out the creative expression of accessories. When in doubt find a scarf that ties it all together.

28 February 2007

And These are The Chapters of My Life...

I know I haven't posted everyday about the work I'm doing in my devotional workbook. Sometimes I just get too busy or I don't have to words to really say what I need too. Today's reflection is about the chapters or segments of my life. It asks how I might divide my life into chapters and where would they begin and end? What would I call them? I'm going to give it my best college try.

These are the chapters that I would divide my life into if I had to do it right now:

0-5: The Exploring Years - These are the years when I was so young that everything seemed huge, shiny, and new to me. They were my initial years of wonder, awe, and learning.

5-9: The Moving Years - All I can recall from these years is a lot of boxes. These were the years we moved back to New Jersey and they seem very unsettled in my memory. I'm not sure why exactly.

9-11: The Chaos Years - I remember these years a being ones of family chaos. If the moving years felt unsettled then these years felt as if I was living on my head. Things in my life and family changed faster than I could change my socks.

11-13: The Calm Years - Two years of utter and total peace. I look back on them and I smile. It was like nothing bad was going to happen in my world, ever.

13-16: The Minnesota Years - It was when I moved here and I think about those years as good years. Nothing major happened but I became more and more settled in Minnesota. I became apart of this land and these people. It was when I knew that I would one day call Minnesota home.

16-18: Depression - I had lost someone I loved very dearly and for about two years I was in some kind of funky depression. My memory sees these years in black and white with lots of rain.

18-22: Hamline High - These were the university years. I went to a college and very much reminded me of high school. There were people who came into my life then who I am very close to still. In many ways these years are like my exploring years. I learned a lot about who I am and what I believe. I made some big decisions about my future during these years.

22-24: The Gainful Employment Years - I actually worked a full time job where I went to work everyday. I took vacations to fun places and I made actual money. All in all these were boring years.

24-28: The K Years - I even labeled my journals from this time as 'The K Years.' I'm still not sure what to make of these years and I have a feeling they are not completely over yet.

The question now is where is God in the movement of these years? I know in more recent years where God is but in some of my earlier years I have a difficult time seeing God. I know that in my 'Depression' years I couldn't see or feel God's presence in my life. I wonder how God has woven in and out of my life over the last 28 years...

25 February 2007

A Prayer for Today

Lord, thank you so much for being with me today. I have not gossiped, nor have I spoken a cross word. My thoughts have been on you and I am thinking of the people in my life with love in my heart. I have not been angry, sarcastic or impatient. Now, please help me as I get out of bed this morning.


Oh, The Things I Have Done

Day 4 of my Journey into myself. Sometimes I love being introspective it feels so arrogant and conceited. So...still on the road to finding home as well as me (I spend a lot of time looking for me.) Today's question is about "What I did", the activities that most absorbed me during those years, like school, work, family, friends, sports, and "Major Life Events," being key personal events like graduation, births and deaths, moves.

I guess I'll start backwards and do some of my major life events. I mentioned before that my family likes to move or liked to move as the case maybe. Since coming to Minnesota we have been really settled. Now I'm the one who does all the moving. I loved living Warwick, my parents tell me that I never forgave them for that move and maybe they are right. My mom and I were talking the other day and she mentioned she hasn't seen me as happy as I am in a very long time. Maybe because Saint Cloud in many ways reminds me of Warwick. After a time it doesn't matter any more that you move. And for the record I think I forgave my parents when we moved to Minnesota. My family has done well here together. Other major life events for me are when my father stopped drinking, when my sister went off to rehab, graduation from high school, graduation from university, moving to Boston for seminary, and moving back from Boston this past May. My move back was the first move I did on my own. I even drove it alone. This past year has been difficult for my family. There have been several deaths in my family including my mom's younger brother. My father had a series of small strokes. I began a year long CPE program. I would say that 2006 as a whole was a key personal event.

As for things I've done, well, I'm relatively young and I haven't changed the world yet but I am working on that. I've spent a lot of time in school.

Preschool - 2 years
Elementary - 6 years (counting Kindergarten)
Middle School - 3 years
High School - 4 years
College - 4.5 years
Seminary 3.5 years

Grand total - 23 years and 105K (in debt that is)

At least I can say I've done something. I'm still not sure what it is but its something. Elementary school is hazy at best but I remember middle school. We moved in while I was in middle school. I guess elementary and early middle school was about when my house of cards came crashing down in New Jersey. The one thing I do recall from New Jersey is softball. High school sucked as only high school can. I spent high school trying to be someone I'm not, OK not that I really know who I am all the time but I spent it trying to fit in to some group that I never wanted to be apart of. If the word "poser" had been popular when I was in high school that's what I would have been. What I remember most about high school is working. Do you want fries with that? I worked from the time I was 15. I don't know what it means not to work. University is where I made my first set of really good friends, you know the ones who have seen you barely dragging your butt and they love you and stick by you anyway. When I moved to Boston my family relationships got better (1500 miles will do that), and I began taking apart my life in a very systematic way and then putting it all back together. I've done some cool things along the way but I think that the best is yet to come.

What event is the worst or the best? What made me saddest or happiest? I don't know. I may be too integrated to answer that honestly. What I can say is that every event has made me into who I am today and I may not always reconise the person I see in the mirror, I do love her and I think that she is capable of amazing things.

24 February 2007

Somewhere on the Journey but Looking for Home

Yesterday's Friday Five asked about who we would take on the journey with us. Lent really is a journey and it can be difficult one. I've struggled this year with Lent, heck I've struggled with just about everything this year. In May, I packed up my 1998 Toyota Camry and pointed my car West to return home. I left three years of my life in Boston. I left good friends and a few people that I love very deeply. I must have cried through all of NY state and still don't know if I'm home. I don't know what home feels like right now. I feel as if I'm in a sort of, Interim Life. I can't go back but I don't know what is coming in the future. I'm here in Saint Cloud, MN and I have torn apart most of life in the last three years. Now I've put much of it back together in a way that makes more sense to me but there still seems to be something lacking. So this year for Lent I took on a practice that I haven't done in many years. I'm doing a devotional workbook. To be more specific I'm doing this devotional workbook. It's a devotional workbook for lesbian and gay Christians. I went on the reconciling journey of being bisexual and Christian many many years ago but I felt drawn to this book at this time. I also feel called to share this journey with you.

I'm on day three of the workbook and this is where I'm "Mapping My Spiritual Journey" so to speak. Today's exercise is asking me to list all the places I've lived and to remember the sights, sounds, and smells I associate with them. To look at what feelings come up when I think of them.

When I was young, my families journey was about moving every 4 years at least. The only house we ever lived in that recall with fond memories was in a little town called Warwick. It was in New York State. That's Warwick below.

When I lived there, it felt like home. Mostly it smelled like farms but when you were in town it smelled like bubble gum and shoe polish. I remember going to the river, it was really a little stream, and catching tadpoles. I remember being happy. I knew, as only a child could, that God was present in my life. We moved after only living there for two years. We moved back to New Jersey. Into a pink house (it didn't stay pink for long) on Windsor Drive. I didn't, and still don't, like that house. It holds painful stories for me. I went to church and loved God but I was never able to feel God there like I could in NY. It was in that Windsor Drive house that my sister began drinking and hitting me. It was in that house that I sustained most of my scars, both physical and emotional. It was in that house that my family fell apart. It was my very own house of cards. It was in that house that I first began to question God's existence because for the first time I felt what being alone really means. How did I get from that kid who doesn't believe God exists, to who I am today?

23 February 2007

Friday Five : Companions on the Way

Today's Friday Five is brought to us by Songbird...

Dante had Virgil as a guide. Before he had younger siblings, my oldest child had an imaginary friend named Patrick. Betsy had Tacy. Laura Ingalls depended on her brindle bulldog, Jack. All of them were companions on the way.

As we take the beginning steps of our journey through Lent, who would we take as a companion? Name five people, real or imaginary, you might like to have with you as guide or guardian or simply good friend.

Nicki is going on a Journey and she is bringing (OMG! I don't know who to bring!) I've always sort of done the difficult things on my own. I don't know who I would bring with me on this journey. Okay, Let us try this again. Nicki is going on a Journey and she is bringing:

1. Rev's Becky and Michelle. I blame both them for my call. I would have never answered the phone if they hadn't been standing pointing at the phone and going, "Aren't you gonna answer that? You know it won't stop ringing until you answer it." So I answered my call and they have to come on the journey with me.

2. My mom would have to come but she won't go if my dad isn't going too. My parents annoy me but I love them dearly and I wouldn't have been able to get this far in life without their unconditional love and support. My mom would be more likely to go on this journey if it was headed for Italy.

3. Nick. Nick is my best friend and has been for more years than I like to admit at times. When we are together we are the most amusing people in the world and the littlest thing can keep us going for hours. He also has the best music collection I know of and music is an important part of any journey.

4. Patricia Hampl. Someone needs to write about the journey and I'm still not sure what a comma is for so I would need a scribe and I can't think of a better scribe than Patrica Hampl, OK maybe Kathleen Norris.

5. (Left blank intentionally) I want to leave this space free. I haven't met this person yet but I know that I will meet them, if not on this journey then on the next. Every journey I have ever gone on has brought amazing people into my life and I want to keep this open for the next person who challenges me and asks me to grow and become a better person, a better Christian.

That's my five. The next questions is what would we all wear on this journey.

21 February 2007

So it begins

Ash Wednesday. The beginning of a six week journey, 40 days, in which to pray, think, fast, and do works of love and mercy. A time of deep repentance and reflection. A time of suffering but with the hope of resurrection at the end. Lent always presents itself to me as a time of discipline.

I never liked the imposition of ashes, even as child it seemed frightening to me. From dust you came and to dust you shall return. I don't want to think about dying and yet here I am doing a CPE residency and doing a lot of ministry with dying veterans and their families. Ash Wednesday is one of the reasons I love being a Christian...the whole Lenten season is. Christians are Easter people, resurrection people. Even as we stand today at Ash Wednesday and begin a long and prayerful journey into Easter we stand with resurrection in our hearts. But what do we do during this Lenten season?

The color for Lent is purple.
Forty days of purple.
Forty days of wrestling with decisions:
How will I spend my life?
What will I give up?
What will I take on?
Forty days for the forty years
The Israelites wandered
In the wilderness:
When will I come home?
Where is my source?
Forty days of fasting,
Moses becoming a prophet:
What am I called to do? Who am I called to be?
Where will I find the strength
to do it? To be who I am?
Forty days of testing and prayer,
Jesus preparing for his ministry:
What is my purpose?
Who or what is my authority?
Forty days and forty hours
In a tomb:
What does it mean to sacrifice?
Forty days of preparation
For Easter:
In the midst of my searching,
I will be sought.
In the despair of my questioning,
I will be heard.
Resurrection waits.
~ Susan Ross (adapted)

20 February 2007

Mardi Gras

I went to a Mardi Gras Jazz Vespers last night at University Lutheran Church of the Epiphany. It's next/on Saint Cloud State University campus. I know Mardi Gras is french for, Fat Tuesday and that it refers to the practice of eating up what were considered luxury foods like pancakes and doughnuts. I mean after three years of Moonlight Pancake Suppers at Andover Newton I've learned that much. I didn't know what the Mardi Gras colors meant.

Green for faith
Gold for power
Purple for justice

Pablo Neruda used to write his poems in green ink because it's also the color of esperanza...hope.

During the service we said a litany of celebration words and I wanted to share them with all of you and I hope they stir and inspire you like they inspired me.

In the presence of God, whose word had called the earth and the stars into being,
We stand in awe!
In the presence of God, whose arms carry children,
We stand in trust!
In the presence of God, whose breath has stirred within us and caused our hearts to thirst for justice and peace,
We stand in need!
Before you, O God, giver of live, we come in faith, in celebration, in search of love and justice, mercy and wholeness,
O God, be with us and hear us.

Tomorrow we begin the dark, deep, and serious journey into Lent but for tonight celebrate. We celebrate that God is a God of life and calls us to live, to live deeply and profoundly. I would say that's cause for celebration.

19 February 2007

Things That Make Me Smile

1. Falling in love or watching someone fall in love.
2. Laughing so hard your face hurts.
3. A hot shower.
4. No lines at the supermarket.
5. A special glance.
6. Getting mail (not bills but actual real mail).
7. Taking a drive on a pretty road.
8. Hearing your favorite song on the radio.
9. Lying in bed listening to the rain outside.
10. Hot towels fresh out of the dryer.
11. Vanilla milkshakes or malts.
12. A bubble bath.
13. Giggling.
14. A good conversation.
15. Going to the Lake.
16. Finding a 20 dollar bill in your coat from last winter.
17. Laughing at yourself.
18. Holding a newborn baby.
19. Midnight phone calls that last for hours.
20. Running through sprinklers.
21. Laughing for absolutely no reason at all.
22. Having someone tell you that you're beautiful.
23. Laughing at an inside joke.
24. Friends (both old and new).
25. Accidentally overhearing someone say something nice about you.
26. Waking up and realizing you still have a few hours left to sleep.
27. Your first kiss (either the very first or with a new partner).
28. Making new friends or spending time with old ones.
29. Playing with a new puppy or kitten.
30. Having someone play with your hair.
31. Sweet dreams.
32. Hot chocolate and Hot Cider.
33. Road trips with friends.
34. Swinging on swings.
35. Making eye contact with a cute stranger.
36. Making chocolate chip cookies.
37. Having your friends send you homemade cookies.
38. Holding hands with someone you care about.
39. Running into an old friend and realizing that some things (good or bad) never change.
40. Watching the expression on someone's face as they open a much desired present from you.
41. Watching the sunrise.
42. Getting out of bed every morning and being grateful for another beautiful day.
43. Knowing that somebody misses you.
44. Getting a hug from someone you care about deeply.
45. Knowing you've done the right thing, no matter what other people think.
46. Watching the sunset.
47. Getting an email that you've been waiting for.

I've beening having a rough few days and I needed to see a list of things that make me smile and make me happy. Maybe I just needed to be reminded that I can smile for real and happiness is really a state of being not some external thing. If anyone can thing of things to add to this list....please add them in the comments page.

17 February 2007

Friday Five: Tourist Edition

So in the spirit of tourism:

1. What is one place you make sure to take out-of-town guests when they visit? Alexandria, MN. The motto of Alexandra is "Easy to get to. Hard to leave." and I find that to be so true. It is also the home of my favorite local vineyard.

2. When visiting another city or town, do you try to cram as much in as possible, or take it slow and easy? I take it slow and easy. Why rush things because if I really like I can always come back and well I rush all the time on vacation I like to be just bit more mellow.

3. When traveling, where are we most likely to find you: strolling through a museum, checking out the local shopping, or _________________? Where am I traveling too and how long am I there for? I love wandering around museums but I also like shopping in local boutiques. You might just find me in some little hole-in-the-wall restaurant savoring the local fare.

4. Do you like organized tours and/or carefully planned itineraries, or would you rather strike out and just see what happens? My more "J", type A, sensibility loves the ordered and planned itineraries but I have moments of just seeing what happens and where things take me. I don't like organized tours...I organize my own tours when I travel but I always need a plan.

5. After an extended trip, what do you find yourself craving most about home? Family and the sunsets over upper Midwest lakes. I'm not a native of Minnesota but somehow this land and these people have become my own and if I'm gone for too long from it I become someone I don't always like.

09 February 2007

Friday Five...American Idol Style

Now I've never watched American Idol in my life but I felt compelled to have a bit of fun today.

1) If I could sing like anyone, it would be: Julie Andrews (when she was young).

2) I would love to sing the song: "Bless the Broken Road".

3) It would be really cool to sing at: The Artists Quarters in Saint Paul, MN.

4) If I could sing a dream duet it would be with: Bette Midler.

5) If I could sing on a TV or radio show, it would be: I'd want to go back in time and sing on The Doris Day Show or the Joan Rivers Show. I love Joan Rivers!

02 February 2007

The ACPE Community will miss you....

The Reverend Joan Hemenway, former president of the ACPE, died the evening of January 31st. Her partner, Jennifer Allcock, was with her a few hours before her death, and reports that Joan died peacefully. Her service will be held in New Haven on February 24th at 2 p.m.

Joan did so much for the CPE community. Her work with regards to Supervisory education will remain with us for a long time to come. May you be at peace now Joan.

"If I Should Die"

By: Joan Hemenway

“If it is now time, O God, let my spirit join with yours. My body is tired, and I know you have promised eternal rest. If I feel doubt and uncertainty, fill me with your love. If I fear entering the unknown, help me to trust in your goodness. I pray for my family and friends that they may not so much mourn my absence as celebrate the memory of my presence and rejoice in my living. If I am to enter a new time and a new journey, I ask for peace, O God, and a deepening sense of your mighty grasp on me.”

31 January 2007

All You Need Is Love...and a Visa Card

Love. That's the word that keeps coming up again and again for me lately. This past Sunday it was 1 Corinthians 13 and the love passage. The one that will NOT be read at my wedding. That is if I ever have a wedding. Then everyone at the VA...OK a few of the veterans...have been talking nonstop about V-Day coming up. Talking about buying roses for their wives and going to a fancy dinner. In bible study today we talked about Jesus asking us to love our neighbor. Then I open my news paper this evening and I read, "Love doesn't make the world go round. Love is what makes the ride worthwhile."

Now I love the idea of love but I'm not so sure about it's praticical applications. It seems to have a short shelf life. It seems sort of flaky to me. I have this theory that people equate love with passion and those are not similar ideas in my book. Passion is something that can fade and die but love, well it never ends. Modern ideas of love seem too commercial for me. I don't want roses or candy. I want someone to listen when I talk and who is willing to wash the dishes with me and fold the laundry. Love...love is someone remembering to bring you a cold ice tea on a hot day.

So tell me all of you who (all three of you) who read this...what is your idea of love and am I just jaded at the young age of 28.

23 January 2007

I just had too...

My Peculiar Aristocratic Title is:
Reverend Countess Responsible Grace the Weird of London by the Bow
Get your Peculiar Aristocratic Title

It sounded like such fun and I've always wanted to be a royal!

21 January 2007

The iPod Meme

The Idea: Totally 'borrowed' from GirlGoneGreat
The Rules: Go to your music player of choice and put it on shuffle. Say the following questions aloud, and press play. Use the song title as the answer to the question. NO CHEATING.

How does the world see you? - "Boston" by Brenda Weiler

Will I have a happy life? - "Cry, Cry, Cry" by Joaquin Phoenix

What do my friends really think of me? - "Come On Eileen" by Dexy's Midnight Run

How can I make myself happy? - "In My Room" by The Beach Boys

What should I do with my life? - "We Shall Be Free" by Garth Brooks

Will I ever have children? - "Only the Wind" by Billy Dean

What is some good advice for me? - "California Dreaming" by Mamas and the Papas

How will I be remembered? - "Divorce Song" by Liz Phair

What is my signature dancing song? - "Santa Fe" - Rent (Broadway Cast)

What do I think my current theme song is? - "Desperado" by The Eagles

What does everyone else think my current theme song is? - "Teach me Tonight" by Dinah Washington

What song will play at my funeral? - "Take a Look" - Liz Phair

What type of men/women do you like?
Men: "Mojo Pin" by Jeff Buckley
Women: "Down to One" by Melissa Etheridge

What is my day going to be like? - "I'm Thru With Love" by Diana Krall

20 January 2007

Freedom of Christianity?

I was working on a Spiritual Assessment at work several days ago and talking to a veteran. I asked this veteran one of the questions on the VA Spiritual Assessment form which was about things that cause you to not feel peaceful. This veteran said that the current state of the world makes him not feel peaceful. Well, AMEN to that. I don't even watch the news anymore because I would rather not know. If it is really important someone will tell me. Anyway, this veteran talked for sometime about the current war. He talked about how the soldiers fighting joined the army, they were not drafted, they willingly went into the Army. Now sure many went so that they could go to college but they still joined. What this veteran ultimately said is "You joined that Army, quit your bitching about being at war."

A lot of the veterans I work with were drafted during WWII, Korea, or Vietnam. They had no choice. They went into the Army because they had not because they wanted to or they needed money for school. WWII veterans especially don't complain about the service they gave. They did what they had to do. It's no wonder that that particular generation is called "The Greatest Generation."

OK, so the veteran I was doing a Spiritual Assessment with kept going and talked about people in Iraq didn't want to be Christian and we shouldn't be there anymore because at least in the United States we have "Freedom of Christianity."

Now, really how true is that statement. We can be any kinda Christian we want in the United States as long as its Christian. I know that what he should have said was "Freedom of Religion" but to a great extent that isn't true. Yes, we have many other religious beliefs but lets look at the religious beliefs of the people who run and own this country, mostly Catholics and Protestants. How do you feel when you hear that term? Does it make you ticked off like it made me? Stop and think about it for a moment and then drop me a line and let me know how you feel.

17 January 2007

A little calm controlled chaos

Today was one of the quarterly memorial services at the VA and I was a bit wound up because I was giving the sermon for this service. I didn't sleep last night and well...lets just say there are times when I'm an anxious eater...but at least I know that eat when I'm anxious. The service went beautifully. Everyone did a wonderful job in the roles that they took on. I could critique my sermon until I'm blue in the face except...I left the front of the church happy with what I did. I didn't feel as if I could have done anything more or anything better. This is what the sanctuary looked like for the memorial service.

16 January 2007

Saint Cloud VAMC Chapel

Twice in one day...but I can't sleep and I feel inspired to post a picture of the Saint Cloud VA Medical Center chapel. It was all decked out for Christmas. I am going to give the memorial service sermon on Wednesday and all I can think about is standing infront of all those people. Maybe that's why I can't sleep.

15 January 2007

There really are Twelve Step programs for everyone

I was sent an email a few days ago from a friend who knows that one day I wish to have children and they will inevitably be preacher's kids. So in preparation for that historic day I was given a copy of "Twelve Steps for Preacher's Kids." I'm not so sure I want to have children now...or maybe I need to become an accountant first.

1. We admitted we were powerless to choose our parents, so we made their lives unmanageable.

2. Came to Believe that The Force within ourselves (a Power under ourselves) could restore us to normalcy.

3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over the the care of God, as we understood God, and not as our parents understood God.

4. Made a searching and fearless inventory of loopholes in our parents' rules.

5. Admitted to God, ourselves, and to all other human beings within earshot the exact nature of our parents' wrongdoings.

6. Were entirely ready to have God remove all their defects of perfectionism.

7. Humbly asked God to remove our parents and bring us new ones.

8. Made a list of all children our parents scorned but we secretly envied, and then became willing to associate with them all.

9. Made direct contact with all such children wherever possible, especially those who needed our "ministry."

10. Continued to take personal inventory and when we were right we promptly admitted it.

11. Sought through Zen meditation to improve our conscious contact with Yoda, as we understood Yoda, praying only for knowledge of the Force within us, and the power to use The Force.

12. Having had a reality check as a result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to other preacher's kids and to practice these principles in all our activities.